Joelyn's Museum Escapades

Museum Escapades: Singapore Coins & Notes Museum

Museum Escapades

Perspective Shot

During the second week or so of last month, the Adventure Crew went to make a plaster coin mold at the Singapore Coins and Notes Museum as part of their 1st Anniversary activities. While I did the post on the workshop itself, I never got to explain the entire tour on its own.

This Museum Escapades will bring you through the tour of the place to see the progress of what we use today, to so to speak, buy stuff.


We started with the practice of bartering, which was where merchants traded stuff to buy other things. Commodities like salt, sugar, rice, conch shells (I was always confused about their value because well, you can’t eat them, you can’t feed them to your livestock, you can’t exactly wear them on a daily basis, so I would actually love to learn about the value of conch shells in those days, serious.) and other stuff.

Things they bartered back in the day.

Then the Chinese merchants came to Singapore and started trading with gold. But because the gold was too small, they flattened the gold pieces to make them more visible and less likely to be lost. So you could say that the first coins were created like so.

The exhibits were positioned in such a way that you would go through a walkway that depicted the history of money in Singapore and its affiliations then (The British Colony) as time progressed. So it was quite interesting to see the different faces on British money, who were the members of royalty and stuff.

I think the rest of the group who were with me were quite amused by the existence of half cent notes as well.

Them cent notes.

A bit of background on cent notes: They emerged during the world wars when coins were recalled and exchanged with notes to contribute in making weapons. The coins only started coming back slowly after the wars were over.

There were also exhibits of the old series of Singaporean notes, going from the Birds to the Flowers to the Ship series to the present Portrait note collections. It was quite exciting to have some of us go, “Oh, my mum has that!”

Moving on, we went to the section where things like cashcards, commemorative coins and medallions were on display.

The rare 25 buck note.
My zodiac sign on a cashcard of some sort. Limited Edition.

For those who do not recall or know, there was a locally made animation movie known as “Zodiac” depicting the myth of the 12 zodiac animals and the race they ran to determine their position. I was born in the year of the Dragon, so there’s one.

Commemorative Coins
Coloured Medallion.

Here, we also learnt the difference between a commemorative coins and medallions. Apparently you could spend a commemorative coin (but who would want to?) but medallions are kind of like collectors’ items that signify special occasions.

There was this commemorative coin that caught my eye though:

So do you actually spend the pieces individually?

Moving on, we went to the lower level of the museum, where aspects of coin making and other uses of coins were presented. However, before we went down the elevator, this huge Yap Stone was in the way. Strange that it’s called Yap Stone because it’s used to symbolise wealth and its Chinese character is the same as mine. I’m not wealthy?!

The Yap Stone.

The next level featured money and their other uses apart from expenditure, together with a video on what happens to coins and its journey to Singapore Mint.Pretty interesting though I thought it would have been better if it was towards the start of the tour.

Seem familiar? Coin riddled sword used for casting out spirits.
I know this one looks familiar. Gold coin on a calculator to bring in the fortune.
Corsages for servants in Malay weddings back in the day. You identified them from the money notes.

Plus we kinda got the opportunity to actually feel a real silver/ cupronickel/ gold bar. Okay, it was protected because a few thousand hands going over it will render it smaller as the years passed. But dang those bars were heavy.

Them bars =)
SoulSilver & HeartGold… kwa kwa kwa!!! Hahahaha.

It could be said that the Singapore Coins and Notes Museum is one of Singapore’s hidden corners. I mean seriously, you really have to look for it, it’s in one of the upper levels opposite the Chinatown Heritage Centre. However, it’s actually quite an interesting theme, a museum of money, so to speak.

I came with the AdCrew for the coin making workshop, which was a really cool experience even though it was pretty much just the coin mold but the tour on its own was informative, interesting, and possibly invoking (well the conch shell did. HAH), talk about alliteration. BLAH.

But if you asked if we would spend half a day there? Maybe not. Probably a couple of hours at best due to its size. However, still an interesting place to check out. Click here to find out more about them.

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