Collection Inspiration: Tigers

Posted on 1/18/2022

As the Year of the Tiger begins, we take a look at the big cats on currency from around the world.

Paper money collectors often focus on a particular nation or even a particular series. This column is designed to offer ideas for building a collection of notes from around the world based on a common element. In preparation for the Year of the Tiger, which begins on February 1, we look at the elegant felines displayed on several nations’ banknotes.

The Mongolia 2022 Year of the Tiger 100 Togrog commemorative note celebrates this year’s zodiac animal. According to one version of the story, the Jade Emperor decreed the years of the calendar would be determined by the results of a great race. While crossing a river near the finish line, the powerful tiger fought through the strong currents, becoming third in the celestial rotation.

Mongolia 2022 Year of the Tiger 100 Togrog graded PMG 70 Gem Unc★
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The largest of the subspecies, the Amur (formerly Siberian) tiger once made its home in the mountainous regions of Korea. So important was the tiger, the animal was woven into the legend about the establishment of the first Korean kingdom. Still beloved by the nation, the tiger is the national animal of South Korea and became the mascot of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which were celebrated by this 2018 2,000 Won note.

South Korea 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games 2,000 Won graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
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Bengal tigers are the most well-known and the most numerous of the subspecies. Mainly found in India, this tiger has populations in Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Today, the subspecies are endangered due to poaching and habitat loss. A portrait of the fierce-looking cat is prominent on the front of the Portuguese India 1924 (ND 1929) 1 Rupia banknote.

Portuguese India, Banco Nacional Ultramarino 1924 (ND 1929) 1 Rupia graded PMG 58 Choice About Unc EPQ
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Malayan tigers inhabit the central and southern regions of the Malay Peninsula (home to Singapore and three other British colonies that made up the Straits Settlements). These tigers are also known as the southern Indochinese tiger, a name that distinguishes these tigers from their northern cousins. The Malayan tiger is critically endangered. In 2021, the Cabinet of Malaysia announced the proposal of nine strategies to protect this magnificent cat well into the future.

Straits Settlements / British Administration 1935 1 Dollar graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated EPQ
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Once present throughout Southeast Asia, the Indochinese tiger currently has populations mainly in Myanmar (formally Burma), Thailand and Laos, with only a handful of tigers in other nations in the region. These tigers have darker coloring with narrow stripes, and they are smaller than Bengal and Siberian tigers.

Burma, Currency Board ND(1947) 100 Rupees graded PMG 35 Choice Very Fine EPQ
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The primary threat to Indochinese tigers is illegal wildlife trading. These cats have been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008. Once thriving in Vietnam, the population has drastically declined, and this subspecies is considered functionally extinct. The back of this Vietnam ND (1972) 500 Dong banknote features a stalking tiger in its natural habitat.

Vietnam - South, National Bank ND(1972) 500 Dong graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
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Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the subspecies, and they are the only surviving subspecies living in the Sunda Islands, home to much of the nation of Indonesia. Critically endangered, there were an estimated 600 to 800 individuals recorded in 2017. Habitat loss, fewer prey and illegal trade have contributed to the declining tiger population.

Indonesia, Bank Indonesia ND (1957) 500 Rupiah graded PMG 58 Choice About Unc
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The back of the Uzbekistan 1997 200 Sum note features a representation of an extinct predator in that region: the Caspian tiger. Extinct since the 1970s, these cats used to inhabit central and northern Asia. The Siberian tiger is genetically closest to the Caspian and, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), efforts to reintroduce those tigers to the region are in the works.

Uzbekistan, Central Bank 1997 200 Sum graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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Since all tigers are endangered, countries that once had a healthy population of tigers are increasing their efforts to save these majestic felines. The Bengal tigers that live in Nepal are split into three isolated areas in the country. Nepal’s current tiger population is estimated around 250 individuals.

Nepal, Central Bank ND (2000) 500 Rupees graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Unc EPQ
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Amid the decline of the tiger population, India’s solution was to launch a conservation program named Project Tiger. Currently, there are eight conservation units throughout India dedicated to preserving the various populations. Thanks to their efforts, tigers have increased to about 3,000 individuals.

India, Reserve Bank ND (1996) 10 Rupees graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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If you are an animal lover, check out other Collection Inspiration columns, including ones on oxenprimates and lions to create your own zoo. Be sure to follow PMG on Facebook, PMG on Instagram and PMG on Twitter to view a collection of notes that feature animals in our PMG zoo.


World Wide Fund for Nature. Return of the Tiger: What Will it Take to Bring Them Back to Kazakhstan?

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