SIBU: Here is good news for collectors of “banana money”. If you have a good quality $10 note with a combination of alphabets and numerical digits such as MA169748, you can sell it now for between RM300 and RM500, according to the president of Sarawak Philatelic and Numismatic Society John Goh Cheong Huat.

If you have a good quality $500 note with the alphabets and numerical digits, the money is now worth RM5,000 while a $1,000 note with the alphabets and numerical digits has a price tag of RM13,000.

However, if the note has alphabets of MA (Malaya) and no numerical digit, then its sale value is just between RM2 and RM3.

Yes, not all the banana notes are valuable – only those in good condition with combination of alphabets and numerical digits.

“Banana money” is the wartime currency introduced by the Imperial Japanese forces when they occupied Malaya and Sarawak during the Second World War. It was known as banana money due to the motif of banana tree on the notes.

“Collectors who had approached me were surprised when told that their banana money had little value. One person from Kuching came to me with a bag full of 10,000 to 20,000 pieces of the money. He was shocked when I told that they were worth less than RM100,” Goh told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

Asked why there were banana money without the numerical digits, Goh said it was due to the “over-printing” of the currency.

“In the first two years of the Occupation, the Japanese controlled the printing and circulation of the money,

“However, towards of the end of their occupation of Malaya, there was no control on the printing of the currency. That is why a lot of people had bags of it,” he said.

Goh added that according to history, the Japanese had to over print more banana money to fund its administrative expenses.

The initial circulation of the currency was just $120 mln but by mid 1945, the Japanese had printed $4,000 mln which was 30 times more.

Goh added he had several pieces of the original banana money given to him five years ago by his counterpart in Singapore, Wong Han Seng, the president of Asia Philatelic and Numismatic Society.