Singapore’s commemorative coins excite collectors

This week, a new commemorative coin will be unveiled to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding prime minister. The LKY100 coin will feature a portrait, making it the first coin to do so.

“Mr. Lee played a significant role in nation-building as Singapore’s founding prime minister. The LKY100 commemorative coin is meant to serve as a reminder of Mr. Lee’s values and vision, and to inspire the younger generation of Singaporeans to continue the work of our founding leaders in nation-building,” stated a Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) spokesperson.

This coin is the latest release in a long line of commemorative releases that combine the story of Singapore paving its path in the world.

The Chinese Almanac coins are probably the most popular special coins issued in the country, celebrating the arrival of the Chinese New Year season annually in the last 40 years. 

The banknotes issued in the country over the years usually herald what’s happening during the time of its print. However, commemorative coins are issued to celebrate specific moments in history.

“Commemorative notes and coins are typically issued by MAS to mark significant national events and achievements,” the central bank spokesperson stated.

“For example, MAS issued the Hawker Culture in Singapore commemorative coins in 2021 to celebrate the inscription of hawker culture in Singapore into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

“The Singapore Bicentennial commemorative note in 2019 was to commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial, and the SG50 commemorative notes and coins in 2015 were to mark Singapore’s 50 years of nation-building.”

Some of the most popular coins issued in the past include the S$150 coin issued in 1969 which commemorated the 150th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore. This 916 or 22-carat gold coin was the first one issued by Singapore. A total of 198,000 of these coins were issued, with a sale price of S$151.50. 

In 1973, silver coins were released to celebrate Singapore’s hosting of the 7th SEAP Games, now known as SEA Games, and the opening of the National Stadium.

A commemorative coin was also issued to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Singapore’s independence in 1975. Additionally, another coin was minted in 1977 for the 10th anniversary of ASEAN.

Major infrastructure projects and landmarks also appear on coins in the next few years. For instance, a coin was issued in 1981 for the official opening of the Changi Airport, one of the best sources of pride for locals. 

More coins were minted to celebrate the Benjamin Sheares Bridge in 1982, the MRT system in 1989, the new Parliament House in 1999, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in 2002, and the 10th anniversary of China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park in 2004.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines was honoured on its 50th anniversary in 1997, and Changi Airport was once again featured in a coin in 2008 during the opening of Terminal 3. 

In the mid-1980s, public housing was featured on the 1-cent coin of Singapore’s First Series of circulating coins.

The first Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix was also commemorated into a commemorative coin in 2008. 

Meanwhile, a commemorative coin was issued in 2012 to celebrate the arrival of the giant panda’s Kai Kai and Jia Jia in the Singapore Zoo. 

In 2016, the inscription of the Singapore Botanic Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was also celebrated through a S$5 silver-proof colour coin.

Five years later, coins were also minted to celebrate UNESCO’s recognition of hawker culture as a part of humanity’s cultural heritage.

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Coin Image Source: MAS

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