Fine art means real money

Local | Bernard Charnwut Chan 28 Aug 2019

You are probably carrying around in a pocket some small but very high-quality pictures representing Hong Kong life. They are, of course, banknotes produced by our three note-issuing banks, Bank of China Hong Kong, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Although each bank hires talented graphic artists to create designs, the banknotes have common themes.

If you look at some of the older notes in your wallet you may find the bills feature iconic landscapes and coastline, local festivals and even wildlife like turtles.

The latest series, released last year, features dim sum and tea house culture on the HK$20 bills, local butterflies on the HK$50s, Cantonese opera on the HK$100s and the natural wonders of the Geopark on the HK$500s. Perhaps fittingly, the HK$1,000 notes show Hong Kong's role as a financial center.

Look closely and you will see some small and barely noticeable features that are identical regardless of the issuing bank. These are security features to prevent counterfeiting, like metallic strips, small shimmering patterns and see-through fluorescent designs. You might need to tilt the notes or hold them to the light to see them. All bills also have embossed numbers to help the blind.

Next week, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will be moving on the official launch of a new series of HK$100 bills. Since these will feature the theme of Cantonese opera the ceremony will take place at the West Kowloon Cultural District Xiqu Center. Keep an eye out for them in the coming months.

Bernard Charnwut Chan is chairman of The Jockey Club CPS Advisory Committee

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