Chinese New Year Banknotes

A new tradition has begun in Macao where two of its banks issue notes commemorating the Chinese New Year.

With the Chinese New Year beginning back on January 28, it is an opportune time to highlight a few relevant banknotes that you should add to your collection.

For many centuries, the Chinese people have celebrated the New Year in much the same way as the rest of the world; with festivities, fireworks, and dinner with family. However, numerous traditions of the Chinese New Year are distinctive to its culture: dragon dances, the giving of money in red envelopes, and the decorating of doorways with calligraphic scrolls, known as fai chun. A new tradition has begun in Macao, an autonomous territory within mainland China, in which two of its banks issue notes commemorating the Chinese New Year.

Macau, Pick# 85, 2012 10 Patacas, "Year of the Dragon Commemorative", front
Graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Macau, Pick# 85, 2012 10 Patacas, "Year of the Dragon Commemorative", back
Graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

In 2012, the sign of the Zodiac was that of a dragon, and so the first Chinese New Year commemorative banknote featured the mythical creature, along with an image of the zodiac calendar. The back of the note depicts either the Banco Nacional Ultramarino or Bank of China buildings, while both backs also included the A-Ma temple, the oldest temple in Macau, constructed in 1488. This first foray into New Year notes proved popular for both banks, as the initial 10 million notes issued proved inadequate to meet demand. In response, the number of notes issued was doubled, with all notes purchased within three days of the note’s release. In addition, notes featuring solid #8 serial numbers sold for large sums on the secondary market.1 The highest graded note seen by PMG thus far is 68 EPQ, with eight notes at this grade.

Macau, Pick# 86, 2013 10 Patacas "Year of the Snake Commemorative", front
Graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Macau, Pick# 86, 2013 10 Patacas "Year of the Snake Commemorative", back
Graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

The following year was the Year of the Snake. Both notes issued were identical in color and design to the dragon note, with the exception of the animal featured on both sides. A lotus blossom was added for the first time, as it is Macau’s national flower. Each subsequent banknote to date has continued this trend. In response to the previous year’s demand, both banks limited customers to reserve up to 30 notes per bank. However, Banco Nacional Ultramarino’s servers crashed due to heavy traffic, echoing the demand for the dragon note.2 The highest graded note seen by PMG thus far is the maximum, 70 EPQ, with two notes at this grade.

Macau, Pick# 87, 2014 10 Patacas "Year of the Horse Commemorative", front
Graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Macau, Pick# 87, 2014 10 Patacas "Year of the Horse Commemorative", back
Graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

The Year of the Horse occurred in 2014. The notes for this year, along with the 2015's Year of the Goat notes, were issued simultaneously by both banks, likely to curb counterfeiters jumping the gun and printing fake notes for the following year.3 The highest graded note seen by PMG thus far is 69 EPQ, with four notes at this grade.

Macau, Pick# 88, 2015 10 Patacas "Year of the Goat Commemorative", front
Graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Macau, Pick# 88, 2015 10 Patacas "Year of the Goat Commemorative", back
Graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

In 2015, the Chinese celebrated the Year of the Goat (although some contend that the zodiac symbol is that of a ram or a sheep).4 The artist appears to think the sign is a goat, given their inclusion of a beard on the illustrated animal. The highest graded note seen by PMG thus far is 68 EPQ, with two notes at this grade.

Macau, Pick# UNL10YMafdi, 2016 10 Patacas "Year of the Monkey", front
Graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Macau, Pick# UNL10YMafdi, 2016 10 Patacas "Year of the Monkey", back
Graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

2016 was the Year of the Monkey, and like 2014 with the Horse and Goat notes, the Monkey and 2017 Rooster notes were issued simultaneously. The highest graded note seen by PMG thus far is 69 EPQ, with eight notes at this grade.

Macau, Pick# UNL10YRbfdi, 2016 10 Patacas "Year of the Rooster", front
Graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

Macau, Pick# UNL10YRbfdi, 2016 10 Patacas "Year of the Rooster", back
Graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click image to enlarge.

The current year, as of January 28, 2017, is the Year of the Rooster. The highest graded note seen by PMG thus far is 69 EPQ, with nine notes at this grade.

In conclusion, the Chinese New Year banknotes are an easy way to start collecting by note sets. If history is any indication, you have time to begin your collection, as the 2018 and 2019 notes are likely to be released together starting next year.

Sources:

1. http://web.archive.org/web/20130813102024/http:/macaubusinessdaily.com/Business/Year-Snake-note-rush-starts
2. http://web.archive.org/web/20130813102024/http:/macaubusinessdaily.com/Business/Year-Snake-note-rush-starts
3. http://www.gcs.gov.mo/showNews.php?DataUcn=79124&PageLang=E
4. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-01-31/entertainment/0301310448_1


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