656+ pieces collected and counting

there are approximately 1,466+/- pieces of Commemorative banknotes issued, excluding those repeats

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Total commemorative banknotes issued is under 900 pieces. If you have achieved any figures close to this, then you are doing extremely well, as many of the older commemorative notes are hard to find even in poor conditions.

13 January 2018

Armenia - 500 Dram 2017 Commemorative "Noah’s Ark" Hybrid Note

The Republic of Armenia
Noah's Ark Commemorative

A commemorative note of 500 Dram released on 22.11.2017. This note commemorates Noah's Ark and is issued in a folder format. The banknote has been printed on Hybrid material - a high quality composite substrate based on a cotton paper, which is covered with thin polyester layers on both sides. The note also has a transparent window.

Front: Images of Reliquary with a fragment of Noah’s Ark and Monastery of Etchmiadzin (Mother of See Holy Etchmiadzin in Vagharshapat), Mount Ararat on the background. A free flying dove holding an olive branch in it's beak, signifying that dry land had was sighted. Both the watermark and the transparent window has the image of Noah's Ark.
Dated 2017
 Back: Images of Noah and his family with domestic and wild animals around them, with an eagle flying above them. The eagle is the national bird of Armenia. The back ground is Mount Ararat.
Security Features: Watermark, Security Thread, Transparent Window, Intaglio Printing, Microtext and Microimages, UV Feature, Kinegram and Optically Variable Ink.

Signatures: Central Bank of Armenia, Bank Chairman (Բանկի նախագահը) – Arthur Javadyan; and the Minister of Finance (Ֆինանսների նախարար) of Armenia – Vardan Aramyan.
Serial Prefix: ՆՏ (NT). NT stands for "Noyan Tapan" (Noah's Ark in Armenian)
Issued Date: 22.11.2017
Quantity: 300,000 pieces issued in an informative folder
Size: 140mm x 76mm
Imprinter: Giesecke & Devrient GmbH
Issue Price: 1,700 Dram each
Initial Restriction: 2 sets per person at the bank

As this is a numismatic product issued with a premium, it is unlikely the banknotes will been seen in general circulation. 
Front Cover
My personal opinion: -
I am not here to promote the Noah's Ark story. I have nothing against the story and whether you believe this or not is entirely up to you. As a collector, I am happy to see this commemorative issued.

06 January 2018

Poland - 20 Zloty 2017 Commemorative 300th Year of the Coronation of the Mother of God's Image in Jasna Gova

This is a 20 Zloty Commemorative note issued on 21.08.2017 celebrating the 300th Year of the Coronation of the Mother of God's Image in Jasna Gova. The note is printed with the date of 10 May 2017. This celebration was approved by the Polish government on 28.01.2017 as a jubilee year for the celebration for the first canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna. The Black Madonna is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary located at the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, about 2+ hours drive south-west of Warsaw. With more than 94% of the Poland population are Catholic, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa has a significant meaning to the Poles.

The note is signed by:
NBP President - Professor Adam Glapinski (since 2016)
Chief Treasurer - Mrs. Barbara Jaroszek
Printed by: Polish Security Printing Company SA (PWPW S.A.)
Quantity Issued; 55,000 set
Issue price; 60 Zloty each
Note designer: Justyna Kopecka

Twenty Zloty
Dated 2017
Information Sheet
Information Sheet

01 January 2018

South Korea - 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games Commemorative

The Bank of Korea

This is the first commemorative banknote ever issued by The Bank of Korea. This is also the first time the Bank of Korea has issued a banknote with the denomination of 2000 Won (number 2), as the bank traditionally issued banknotes in the value of 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000, 50000 Won etc.

This 2000 Won (이천원) commemorative note was supposed to release on 17.11.2017 but delayed until 11.12.2017. This note celebrates the 2018 PyeongChang XXIII Winter Olympic Games (from 09.02.2018 to 25.02.2018). The hosting right was awarded to PyeongChang on 06.07.2011 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Durban, South Africa. PyeongChang won the rights by beating two other candidates, namely Munich (Germany) and Annecy (France). This is the third time PyeongChang (평창군) bidded for the Winter games, having previously lost to Vancouver (Canada 2010) and Sochi (Russia 2014). After South Korea, China will host the next Winter Olympic games in Beijing in 2022. It should also be noted that this is the second Olympic Games to be held in South Korea. The first was the Summer games in Seoul in 1988.

This is the second legal tender Winter Olympics banknote ever issued and the fifth banknote issued to celebrate the Olympic games (both Winter and Summer).

The note is predominately printed in black and white. I suppose this is appropriate given that it's all about the Winter games, snow and cold!

Watermark: PyeongChang Olympic Stadium;
Letter Prefix/Suffix: AA 0000000 A & AA 0000000 B;

Security features include: Windowed Security Thread, Hologram (snowflake image), Watermark, Intaglio printing, Intaglio Latent Image, Tactile Marks for Vision-Impaired, Novel Numbering, Colour-Shifting Ink for the 2000 Won value & Micro Lettering.
Manufacturer: Korea Minting Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp.

Like all South Korea banknotes previously issued in the past, the note bears the bank governor's (총재) seal on the front of the note and the seal reads as 한국은행총재 (Governor of the Bank of Korea).  

The note is measured 140mm x 75mm. A total of 2.8 million pieces have been printed and issued in 3 formats - single, 2-in-1 uncut and 24-in-1 uncut sheets. All notes were issued in a simple folder and all were sold with a premium above the face value: -

Single 2000 Won note (920,000 sets in folder) = 8,000 Won
2 uncut sheet (210,000 sets in folder) = 15,000 Won
24 uncut sheet (40,000 sets in tube) = 168,000 Won

The purchase order for this issue was opened between 11.09.2017 to 29.09.2017 and was made available at Kookmin Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, Nonghyup Bank, Suhyup Bank, Shinhan Bank, Wooribank, Korea Post, Kyongnam Bank, Daegu Bank, Busan Bank and Poongsan-Hwadong

Given that the notes are sold with a premium, it is very unlikely that you will ever see this note in general circulation. It has also been reported that the PyeongChang Organizing Committee bought the banknotes in bulk and resold them to domestic and overseas collectors.

This is the 6th Olympic Games banknote issued to celebrate the games (both Winter and Summer) since 2008 (2008 - China, Hong Kong Bank of China, Macau Bank of China; 2014 - Russia; and 2016 - Fiji). Despite so many coins have been issued, it is surprising to see so few banknotes have been issued to commemorate the Olympic Games.

Two Thousand Won
Dated 2018, Prefix AA-A, Seven sports of speed skating (short track speed skating is a strong event for the South Koreans), ice hockey, curling, biathlon, ski jumping, luge and bob sleigh. The main feature is speed skating, with mountainous view of Gangwon Province in the background. PyeongChang is one of the 11 counties situated in the Gangwon province and it's approximately 180 km east of Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
 Two Thousand Won
Dated 2018
Reverse - painting of a "Tiger Under A Pine Tree," by Kim Hong-do, a renowned artist from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), who went by the pen name "Danwon". Tiger is the mascot of the PyeongChang games and this could be the reason they have selected this painting for the design.
2000 Won, 2-in-1 Uncut Sheet
Dated 2018, 2-in-1 Uncut

It was reported that the entire issue was sold out shortly after it was opened for pre-order.

Whilst many South Korean citizens and collectors around the world would be happy to see such a commemorative note issued to celebrate this special occasion, many locals were not that happy when the central bank first released the design of this banknote.

Below are some of the negative remarks reported by a local newspaper about the final design;
*Childish and substandard design;
*More like a North Korean banknote;
*Like a high school winner project;
*Why was the image of the tiger included?;
*Poor and embarrassing;

As a collector, I can tell you that no matter how you have designed a banknote, you can never satisfied everyone. I have seen a lot of those so called annual award winning design of banknotes around the world and I can tell you that opinion is very subjective and I would not have selected those winning notes either. Whilst this South Korean Olympic note may not be perfect, I do not believe it deserved those negative responses. However I do agreed that the reverse side of the note can do a little bit better. In case you are not aware of this, the Tiger is the Mascot of the game. Perhaps they should have made the tiger image smaller with a less scary one. Why picked such an angry and threatened/defensive tiger image for the design? Is this not a friendly games anymore? The games main venue should be added to the back of the note, after all, this note is all about the Winter games.

I personally have no issue with this note. At least the note is not crowed with security features or many other unnecessary designs or images. It is good to see that this note was not printed on Polymer or Hybrid materials. It is not necessary to prolong the life span of this note as it will never get circulated like those normal banknotes issued. Provided you store this note in a dry and cool environment, it will last forever. 

23 December 2017

Brunei - 50 Ringgit 2017 Coronation Golden Jubilee

On 5th of October 2017, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah celebrated his Accession to the Throne Golden Jubilee. His Majesty became the 29th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam on 05.10.1967, when he was 21 years old, following the surprised abdication of his father, the late Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Waddien (1914-1986). The Sultan's coronation was then held on 01.08.1968 and was crowed by his father at the Royal Ceremonial Hall (or Lapua) in Bandar Seri Begawan (then known as Brunei Town).

Fast forward 25 years, in 1992 the Sultan celebrated his Silver Jubilee by releasing a B$25 Commemorative paper banknote (P21). Until today, this is still the one and only odd 25 Dollars denomination ever issued in Brunei since 1967.

To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Authoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) issued the following numismatic products:

- B$50 with special "HB50"* prefix (acrylic holder) at B$200 (4,000 sets);
- B$25 (P21) and B$50 "prefix F/1" Folder at B$160 (3,000 sets);
- Single B$50 "prefix F/1" Circulation Note Folder at B$55 (50,000 sets);
- 3-in-1 uncut Sheet B$50 "prefix F/2" (acrylic holder) at B$400 (1,000 sets);
- 8-in-1 uncut sheet B$50 "prefix F/2" (in tube) at B$1,000 (500 sets)
- 40-in-1 uncut sheet B$50 (in tube) at B$3,800 (150 sets);
- B$500 Gold coin at B$3,500 (200 sets);
- B$50 Silver coin at B$400 (200 sets); and
- 5 coins 5th series special collection set at B$20 (3,000 sets)

* HB = Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

It should be noted that only 4,000 sets were issued with the special prefix of "HB". The rest are printed with prefix "F/1 and F/2". All the above were made available via online pre-order which was opened between 04.10.2017 to 25.10.2017. The items were opened to everyone, however priorities were given to the locals first in the country with any left overs to be sold to the rest of the world. Any item that was oversubscribed went through a balloting system to decide the lucky winners.

I have no confirmation as to how many pieces were printed for this commemorative serious. So far I have sighted single note with F/1 prefix and F/2 prefix for those uncut sheets. The circulating coins and banknote were released to the public for circulation on 09.10.2017.

The design of the new B$50 features three generations of royal family. On the front, it features the late Sultan crowning his son in 1967 and on the back, the current Sultan and his eldest son, crown prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah ibni Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'ízzaddin Waddaulah, greeting their subjects. The note is predominately printed in stunning yellow colour, which is also the royal colour of Brunei. The design for this note should win an award, in my opinion.

Fifty Ringgit from 1 note folder
Dated 2017 - single in folder
Fifty Ringgit Special Prefix
Dated 2017 - Special Prefix HB50
Twenty Five Dollar (Paper) from 2 notes folder
Dated 1992, P21, #204
Fifty Ringgit from 2 notes folder
Dated 2017, #204
Fifty Ringgit 3-in-one Uncut Sheet
Dated 2017
Footnote: A small quantity of the above were also sold in Singapore, where both nation's currencies are interchangeable at par value. Some of these items were sold at a higher price that those offered in Brunei. Whilst the above numismatic products issued were considered as low, it is not sure if those sold in Singapore were made prior to the sale in Brunei or because they were actually left overs. Given that only the coins were oversubscribed, I personally believed the notes were the remainders from the offers in Brunei. Needless to say, banknotes are not as popular as those coins sold.