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Total commemorative banknotes issued is under 1,500 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.

Opinion: Many collectors of commemorative banknotes would have come across with those Somaliland sets overprinted with gold and silver texts with the following wordings - 5th Anniversary of Independence 18 May 1996 [Sanad Gurade 5ee Gobanimadda 18 May 1996]. I believe these are "home made" (or fake) and not authorised by the central bank. My argument is simple. No central bank would have issued an overprint commemorative banknote that the texts are so large that it would cover the two signatures on the note as well as part of the serial numbers. Even if these are genuine notes, then these could be issued as souvenir sheets and not as legal tender. As I said before, this is my opinion. If you have paid top dollars for these, please think about my argument. There is always a sucker around the corner, including me of course!

All comments are most welcome but it has to be subjects related to banknotes or banknotes collection. If not, it will not be approved. Thanks

04 November 2022

...Fiji - $0.88 ND2022 恭喜發財 Legal Tender Lucky Money Numismatic Banknote "May Prosperity Be Yours"

Republic of Fiji
Reserve Bank of Fiji
(Established 1983)
Currency - Dollar (FJD)
Talk about an odd face value of banknotes! This is one odd banknote with a face value of $0.88 cents, and was released on 08.08.2022 by the central bank as a numismatic product. Yes, you read it right. It is indeed a numismatic banknote, and it is clearly stated on the front of the banknote. This is the first time, as a collector, in so many years that I have seen a legal tender note printed with the word 'Numismatic' on it. It should be noted that this is not a commemorative banknote, but issued as lucky money targeting the Asian market collectors, mainly in China, and to some extent, the rest of the world with large Chinese communities, like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and certain parts of the world too. In case, you wonder, the Chinese population in Fiji is only about 8000 people, or about 1% of the population. This is a legal tender banknote in Fiji, but you will unlikely see any of these circulating in the country at face value due to obvious reasons (read below).

It is not sure why the central bank ventured into this project, nor how/why the face value of 88 cents was decided. I am aware that the value 88 (Double-Eight) is a symbolic, and auspicious number to the Chinese community. According to a source, the Governor of the bank explained the decision for this project was a business one, and purely for financial gain. The issuing of this note is to foster better relationships between the two nations - the people in China and Fiji. As this is a special issue, and sold as a numismatic product at a premium of F$28.00 per note. I am sure, this note would be also popular to the Chinese people living in Fiji too. In addition to this, other numismatic items, such as uncut sheets are also available for sale too, like the 2-in-1, 3-in-1, 8-in-1, and 16-in-1. 
The design for this note is completely new on both sides. This note is undated, and was released on 08.08.2022 (Double-Eight). Whilst the face value is insignificant, this legal tender banknote is printed with all the security features that one would expect from a Fijian banknote. This note is predominantly printed in red, with golden background colours. These are the two most favorable and auspicious colours in the Chinese community. Even though this is a nominal value legal tender banknote, the dimensions of this note are larger than the current Fiji $100 in circulation, measuring 157mm x 77mm (official dimensions 156mm x 76mm), against the current $100 note of 156mm x 67mm.
The letter prefixes range printed are AA-AH, BA-BH, CA-CH, DA-DH; EA-EH and FJ. I understand that AA prefixes are initially held back by the Chinese vendor, for what reason(s), I do not know. The AB Prefixes were the initial notes distributed to dealers or secondary suppliers. It is also my understanding that the FJ prefix is only printed for the market in Fiji, and according to my source, only 10,000 pieces were made available, all starting with the serial number of FJ888xxxxx. Except for the FJ prefix, all notes are distributed from China. A total quantity of 3.6 million notes are printed, and I believe these include those uncut sheets. As a numismatic or novelty banknote, this is quite a large quantity, in my opinion, given that these notes are not meant for circulation, and sold at a high premium to face value ratio (1:31.82 times). I hope I am wrong on this but time will tell if this joint-venture with the Reserve Bank of Fiji and its partner in China was a success story or not.  

Eighty-Eight Cents
Large hibiscus flower, Coat of Arms

Front - The main feature on the front is a large hibiscus flower in a nice red colour. The colour red symbolises as happiness and good fortune. It should be noted that the hibiscus flower is not the National flower of Fiji (The Tagimoucia), and China does not have a national flower at the moment either. It is not sure why the hibiscus flower is chosen on the front as the unofficial flower of China is the Peony flower. To the Chinese, the peonies symbolise prosperity and happiness. The hibiscus is a tropical shrub, and is the national flower of Malaysia, South Korea, Solomon Islands, and Niue. The Haitians have also adopted this unofficially as their national flower too. On the top left-hand corner are the two large digits of 88, representing the face value of the note, and this is repeated on the bottom right corner too. In the center just below the word Fiji, it has the following text printed :- 
This Numismatic Note is Legal Tender in Fiji for
This note is also printed with an Optically Variable Ink (OVI) security, which is embossed as the shape of a hibiscus flower, and the colour of the flower changes when the note is tilted. The Fiji Coat of Arms is printed on the top right corner of the note. 

God of Wealth holding a scroll, large Chinese ancient coin
Governor - Faizul Ariff Ali (tenure since 11.09.2017)
Watermark - Hibiscus and value 88
Printer - De La Rue (not printed)
Dimensions - 157mm x 77mm
Eighty-Eight Cents (FJ Prefix)
Large hibiscus flower, Coat of Arms

Eight-Eight Cents (Prefix FJ)
God of Wealth holding a scroll, large Chinese ancient coin
Back - On the back is the main image of the smiling God of Wealth (禄) or Tsai Shen Ye or Cai-shen Ye (财神爷), holding a scroll with the following text written on it - 恭喜發財 (wishing you prosperity and wealth/Gōngxǐ fācái). In his right arm is a jade Ruyi. The Ruyi is a talisman symbolising power, and good fortune in Chinese folklore. The God of Wealth is worshiped in the Chinese folk religion, and mostly to those Taoism believers. Below the God of Wealth are piles of Chinese ancient coins, and to his left is a large image of a Chinese coin with the writing of 招財進寳 which mean (or similar) - wishing you success and riches with abundance of precious treasures. A large Chinese Money tree is also printed to the left of the God of Wealth, with coins dropping down. On the Money Tree, the design also incorporated the currency symbols of $, €, £, and ¥ (presumably Chinese Yuan). No doubt this is a modern Money Tree as the ancient one may not have so many international currency symbols. In the bottom right corner, the following test in English are also printed on the note; -

Good luck & good fortune
May prosperity be yours

The logo for the central bank is also printed on the back, just like all other circulating Fijian banknotes.
God of Wealth holding a scroll, large Chinese ancient coin
Eight-Eight Cents (Prefix AA)
Large hibiscus flower, Coat of Arms

God of Wealth holding a scroll, large Chinese ancient coin
At a quick glance, this note looks like one of those many Chinese home made fantasy notes printed for sales. As the selling price for this note is F$28, it would be insane to find anyone in Fiji trying to spend it at face value. No doubt that as this is a legal tender banknotes, many collectors around the world would be happy to add this to their collections, including me.

In traditional Chinese folklore, especially for those Taoism believers, the God of Wealth usually appears between the God of Prosperity (福/Fu), and the God of Longevity (寿/Shou). In a Chinese household, if you find one is displaying in a home, in many cases you will find all three 福禄寿 (Fu-Lu-Shou) standing side by side in this order from right to left. It is always auspicious to have these three Gods together, rather than just to have one by itself. The Fu Lu Shou to the Chinese is known as 三星 (Three Stars), and is also sometime known as the Chinese Three Wise Men. My opinion on this note is that it has missed this opportunity to incorporate the other two Gods into the design. However, there is always the opportunity to issue two more notes for the two other Gods, but nothing can beat all three in one note.

Over the past 40-50 years or so, few banknotes have been issued by Central Banks or Governments that the face value was not considered as usual in a traditional sense, like the values of 1, 5, 10, 20, and so on. The oddest ones were those issued by Burma with denominations of 15, 35, 45, and 75 kyats all issued in the mid 80s, when General Ne Win (b.1911-2002) was in power. Rumors had it that these were his lucky numbers. Well, if you call these as lucky numbers, two years after this series was issued, he was forced to resign on 23.07.1988 due to the popular uprising by the locals against his regime. I wonder if he had employed a fortune teller for these Burmese banknotes? Other values of notes (face value) that are considered as unusual are $3, $7, $40, 60 & 600 ringgit, and 75000 rupiah, just to name a few. These were mostly issued as commemorative banknotes, where the values represent the theme of the celebrations.
Read about the media reports regarding this note here and here.

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