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Sex and Scum Banknotes: Seychelles Rupees

Although in banknote collecting circles the infamous Seychelles 50 Rupee banknote (p17), which was issued from 1968 to 1973, is well known, this peculiar and well known banknote, which features some distinctive palm fronds spelling the word "SEX" behind the queens head, has a lot of controversy surrounding it.


The Famous Seychelles SEX Banknote: 50 Rupees from 1968-1973

Very little is known about how this sort of printing "anomaly" happened. Even some senior members of the IBNS (Internation Bank Note Society) cannot agree. In one article on the web the writing is described as an unintentional error whereas another article describes the BWC (Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co., the company responsible for printing these banknotes) banknote engraver as a rogue.

In regards to this allegation, it can be said that the artists who were commissioned to prepare drawings for the whole series, Wendy Day Veevers-Carter and Mary Harwood, were definitely not the culprits as their drawings and designs, which are available for viewing in the IBNS journal (volume 34 no 1) clearly shows a palm tree that in no way spells "SEX", or any other word for that matter. The same article it is explained that the engraver, a man by the name of Brian Fox of BWC* probably altered the original drawings or at least approved the changes to what ended up being the printed version of these famous banknotes of Seychelles. What is not know, and will probably never be known for sure, is whether the changes were an unintentional paper money printing anomaly, of whether the hidden word "SEX" was included on purpose.

Exactly when this hidden word was initially discovered by the wider community is known, as nothing was done to alter the design or retract the banknotes from circulation between their issue dates of 1968-1973**.

One anomaly within a series of paper money is scarce, but may be acceptable. However, a second and much less know anomaly from the same series must at least raise an eyebrow. The notes in this series, with denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 rupees, also had a hidden word inextricably located on the 10 rupee banknote (p15).

Under the flipper of the turtle at the lower left of the banknote, the coral is arranged to spell the word "SCUM". The how, why, and when of this is a bigger mystery than the mystery of the 50 Rupee note. It is very hard to conceive, though not impossible, that two coincidences of this nature occur with words that are not particularly complimentary in the same series of notes, from the same printer, and at the same time. It would probably be timely to ask what motive there was to do such a thing to these notes. One plausible idea put forward was that this was done to somehow aid Seychelles in their bid for independence which was started around 1964 and was finally achieved in 1976. It seems the whole thing may have been an intentional insult to the crown, under who's administration the Seychelles were. This is purely the opinion of a few, and no such links have ever been established.


The Famous Seychelles SCUM Banknote: 10 Rupees from 1968-1973

However, there is no doubt that BWC, in producing this series of Seychelles banknotes with their "anomalies", has brought about one of the most highly sought after series of British Commonwealth paper money. Anomalies aside, for their age the designs of these banknotes are truly some of the best in the Queen Elizabeth II series, and a must for collectors of the same.

The Seychelles 10 Rupee note had only two issues in the years 1968 and 1974, whereas the 50 Rupee banknote from Seychelles was issued every year from 1968-1973 with the exception of 1971.

* BWC were taken over by De La Rue sometime after this event so research into this is very limited; the secrecy with which banknote printers must operate is also a contributing factor in the lack of a resolution to this story.

** In a similar incident, where Canadian banknotes included an effigy of the devil in the hairdo of Queen Elizabeth II (devil's hair notes), the banknotes were re-printed with a correction, and the originals were slowly withdrawn from circulation, though many are still available for collectors.

More Information About cats25
By cats25 on 2014-11-03

Malaya Paper Money Issues: 1940-1941

The Board of Commissioners of Currency of Malaya printed an issue of paper money in 1940 with denominations of 1 , 5 and 10 dollars; the colours of these banknotes were green, blue, and purple, respectively. All of these banknotes were printed in the United Kingdom and then transported to Penang in what was then Malaya but is now Malaysia.

The 10 dollar notes arrived without mishap which cannot be said for the 1 or 5 dollar notes. Their fate was far different.


Malaya $10 from 1940: Original Issue Malaya $1 from 1940: Original Issue Malaya $5 from 1940: Original Issue

Of the 27 million 1 dollar and 5.6 million 5 dollar notes planned for circulation some 500,000 1 dollar and 100,000 5 dollar notes were lost when the cargo ship the the SS Eumanes was sunk. In November of 1940 the cargo ship SS Automedon encountered the German raider Atlantis and came under fire, the first shells hitting the bridge of the SS Automedon killing its captain and all of its officers. On board were 700,000 1 dollar notes and 500,000 5 dollar notes. The manifest also included crated aircraft, motor vehicles, spare parts, alcohol, cigarettes and several food products including frozen produce. The biggest find, however, were the top secret maps and codes and above all a bag marked "highly confidential", with multiple punctures so that it could sink in case of a devastating attack. Within were documents pin-pointing positions of all allied troops in the Asia area, including additional details outlining exactly what would happen from a British point of view should Japan enter the war on the axis side. Details of Australian and New Zealand force deployment and future plans were also present. Located and removed from the ship by a boarding party from the Atlantis, the information was then sent to the German Embassy in Japan and later the Japanese were given copies, while the originals were hand carried to Berlin for verification. The axis powers were very wary of the information at first, puzzled that such important documents were being carried on a virtually defenseless ship. Berlin verified the documents as genuine and later Japan would act upon the information. This information was instrumental in the Japanese planning its assault on the Malay peninsula and subsequently the relevant ease with which they were able to take Singapore.

It is not known if any of the notes were taken at the time of boarding the Automedon, which was sent to the bottom by scuttling charges laid by the Germans when they determined the ship was too badly damaged to tow. When news of this incident reached the British, they almost immediately they halted the release of the 1 and 5 dollar banknotes, releasing only the 10 dollar note in mid 1941. New paper money with different colours were then produced. The 1 and 5 dollar notes swapped colours the 1 dollar was now blue, the 5 dollar green, and the 10 dollar was changed to red. However, a brown version also exists. The popular conclusion is that the brown 10 was removed from circulation at the time of Pearl Harbour. As of 2012 there is only 1 known example of this note to exist so its existence is bound to remain a mystery. It is very possible the Japanese were able to seize all of the brown 10 dollar notes when Penang was taken in 1942. The banknotes with denominations of 1, 5 and 10 (the red version) dated the 1st of July, 1941, did not actually circulate until 1945. The purple 10 dollar note was still redeemable until 1948.


Malaya $1 from 1941: Second Revised Issue Malaya $5 from 1941: Second Revised Issue Malaya $10 from 1941: Second Revised Issue

Today the 1940 1 and 5 dollar Malayan banknotes are extremely rare and command five figure sums, whether as specimens or as potentially circulation notes. The 5 dollar banknote is by far the rarest. The purple 10 dollar note is also somewhat scarce but possible to collect. The brown 10 dollar (unlisted in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money) has not been offered for sale in recent times. The notes dated 1941 are relatively common and collectable, the 5 dollar bill surprisingly being the scarcest of the three and commanding a higher price, relative to its counter parts in a similar condition.

More Information About cats25
By cats25 on 2014-10-27

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