Key Information

inSight
Speeches
Speeches by Speaker
Norman T.L. Chan
Peter Pang
Eddie Yue
Arthur Yuen
Raymond Li
Edmond Lau
Esmond Lee
Meena Datwani
Vincent W.S. Lee
James Lau
Joseph Yam
Y K Choi
William Ryback
David Carse
Tony Latter
Andrew Sheng
Hans Genberg
Simon Topping
Michael Taylor
The Honourable Donald Tsang
Chen Yuan
Dai Xianglong
Don Brash
Jaime Caruana
Andrew Crockett
Mario Draghi
David Eldon
Stanley Fischer
Timothy F. Geithner
Stephen Grenville
Kenneth G. Lay
William McDonough
Ernest Patrikis
Glenn Stevens
Jean-Claude Trichet
Tarisa Watanagase
Zeti Akhtar Aziz
Press Releases
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
Press Releases by Category
Bogus Voice Message Phone Calls
Banking in Hong Kong
Fraudulent Websites, E-mails and Telephone System, and other fraud cases
Granting of Banking Licences
Exchange Fund
Table of Multiples of Notes and Payments for Allotted Amount under non-competitive tender
Table of Multiples of Notes and Payments of Application Amount under non-competitive tender
Tender of Exchange Fund Bills and Notes
Tender Results of Exchange Fund Bills and Notes
Tentative Issuance Schedule for Exchange Fund Bills and Notes
Appointments and Departures
HKMA Pay Review
HKMA Publications
Speeches
The Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation
Hong Kong Note Printing Limited
Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research
Exchange Fund Investment Limited
Others
Hong Kong Financial Infrastructure
International Relations
Investment Products Related to Lehman Brothers
Monetary Policy
Notes and Coins
Renminbi business
Credit Card Lending Survey
Monetary Statistics
Residential Mortgage Survey
Year 2000
Others
Guidelines and Circulars
Guidelines
Circulars
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
421.9001

Speeches

Century-old Treasures

by Joseph Yam, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority

(Speech at the “Hong Kong Currency” Special Stamp Issuing Ceremony)

2 September 2004

Mr Chiang, Ladies & Gentlemen,

I am very delighted to join Mr Chiang today in officiating at the launch of a special set of 'Hong Kong Currency' stamps. This is a particularly memorable occasion as it is the first time that Hong Kong showcases some of its select currency designs in a set of stamps.

Let me share with you some interesting facts about stamps and currency. Did you know that Hong Kong issued its first set of stamps as early as in 1862? That was even one year before our first legal tender coin, the 'one mil', was issued and minted! And did you know what types of currencies were used in Hong Kong for its daily business before 1863? The answer is a wide array of coins, including the Chinese silver ingots and bronze cash coins, British shillings and gold pounds, Spanish silver dollars, Mexican dollars and Indian rupees. In 1863 the Hong Kong Government commissioned the Royal Mint in England to produce the 'one mil' coin. This coin followed the hollow-centred design of traditional Chinese bronze coins, highlighting the cosmological concept of a dome-like firmament covering the square earth.

And did you know what you could buy with a one mil coin at that time? With the denominations of coins ranging from one dollar down to one mil, which is a thousandth of a dollar, one mil would be roughly sufficient to buy a bowl of congee and a deep-fried dough. It is not known whether there is any link between the one mil coin and the Chinese expression of 'not worth a mil' when referring to something absolutely insignificant. However nowadays the one mil coin has become a highly treasured collectible worth hundreds of thousands of times more than it originally did. It is thus most befitting that it is chosen as one of the major designs in the set of stamps that the Hongkong Post is issuing today. Some of our media friends may recall that this coin also featured in the front cover of the March 2003 issue of the HKMA Quarterly Bulletin.

Another coin that will feature in the stamp set is Hong Kong's first 20-cent silver coin. Minted in 1866, it was also the first coin produced by the Hong Kong Mint. And not many people would know that the mint was actually located at Cleveland Street in Causeway Bay. When you go there now, you can still find a red plaque marking the mint's former location. Unfortunately the mint only operated for two years after its start-up in 1866, and was later rebuilt as a sugar factory.

The third coin I'd like to introduce to you is the first currency note issued by the Hong Kong Government - the one dollar note which was put into circulation in 1935. Based on the purchasing power at that time, a one dollar note would buy 30 catties of rice! Judging from the fact that most people could earn only a few dollars each month, this note was really a big sum.

The last coin design in the stamp set was the 1997 Commemorative Gold Coin issued by the HKMA on behalf of the Government to mark the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on 1 July 1997. This legal tender coin has a face value of HK$1,000. It bears the standard Bauhinia design on the obverse side and a special commemorative design of the Hong Kong skyline on the reverse side, highlighting our status as an international financial centre. Another philatelic product to be introduced in line with the stamp set is a Stamp Sheetlet featuring the Bauhinia coins, the design of which I, luckily, was able to get involved in.

I hope these interesting titbits about the coinage of Hong Kong may help increase your interest in our currency as well as the special set of stamps to be issued today. Thank you.

Last revision date: 1 August 2011
ABOUT THE HKMA
The HKMA
Tender Invitations
Careers@HKMA
Legislative Council Issues
Links
The HKMA Information Centre
KEY FUNCTIONS
Monetary Stability
Banking Stability
International Financial Centre
Exchange Fund
PUBLICATIONS & RESEARCH
Annual Report
Half-Yearly Monetary & Financial Stability Report
Quarterly Bulletin
HKMA Background Briefs
Reference Materials
Research
MARKET DATA & STATISTICS
CMU Bond Price Bulletin
Economic & Financial Data for Hong Kong
Monthly Statistical Bulletin
Monetary Statistics
KEY INFORMATION
Press Releases
Speeches
Guidelines & Circulars
Forthcoming Events
inSight
OTHER INFORMATION
Account Opening
Consumer Corner
Consumer Education Programme
Complaints about Banks
Complaints about SVF Licensees
Internet Banking
Fraudulent Bank Websites, Phishing E-mails and Similar Scams
Be Careful of Bogus Phone Calls and SMS Messages
Authenticate the Callers and Bank Hotline Numbers
Register of AIs & LROs
Register of Securities Staff of AIs
Register of SVF Licensees
Investment Products Related to Lehman Brothers
Photo Gallery