Suitable to Starter, Standard Chartered's HK 10 Dollars Carp Banknote

For novice collectors, I recommend collecting the HKD 10 banknote featuring the carp design from the 1980s. This banknote was only issued in two years, 1980 and 1981, and it is relatively easy to assemble a set of both notes.


Standard Chartered Bank of Hong Kong is one of the authorized note-issuing banks in Hong Kong. In 1970, they redesigned the HKD 10 banknote with a green color scheme. In 1979, the design underwent further changes, incorporating traditional Chinese mythical creatures. These creatures are featured on the banknotes of various denominations issued by Standard Chartered Bank. The 1980-1981 HKD 10 banknotes feature a carp design.

The 1980 edition of the large carp HKD 10 banknote measures 83 mm x 151 mm, making it larger than the currently circulating HKD 10 banknotes. Besides the prominent carp design on the right side, facing left, the majority of the note is inscribed in English, indicating its legal tender value. The issuance date and signatures are located in the lower center. There is a horizontal stripe in the central background of the banknote, which some people believe conceals a secret code, while others consider it a decorative element.

The background of the banknote is filled with Standard Chartered Bank's logo, intricately incorporated within the gradient color scheme. The top left and bottom right corners of the banknote feature the number "10" in contrasting colors, with the top left background in a lighter shade and the bottom right background in a darker shade. On the left side of the banknote, there is a blank space where, under certain lighting conditions, a watermark of a Roman soldier can be seen from top to bottom.

The reverse side of this HKD 10 banknote is relatively simple, divided into three areas. The right side features a hidden watermark, while the left side depicts the building of Standard Chartered Bank. In the center, there is the Royal Coat of Arms, which consists of a shield divided into four sections. The small section in the top right corner features an upright lion, representing Scotland. The three horizontal lions in the top left and bottom right sections represent England, while the harp in the bottom left represents Ireland. Surrounding the shield is the motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense," meaning "Shame on him who evil thinks." At the bottom center of the banknote, there is the French phrase "Dieu et mon droit," which translates to "God and my right." Interestingly, apart from Chinese and English, French is also included on the banknote, adding to its charm.



The banknotes from the two years have different quantities, with the 1980 edition being scarcer and consequently more valuable. The estimated paper tracks

For 1980 : A – Y and AA – AG,
or 1981 : AH – DQ.

Judging by the number of tracks, it is estimated that the 1981 edition had approximately double the issuance volume compared to 1980.

Despite the relatively lower quantity of the 1980 edition, it is still quite abundant, making this banknote affordable. As of September 2023, when I checked the prices of unfolded 1981 editions in online markets, they were around HKD 50-80. The unfolded 1980 editions are slightly more expensive, at around HKD 90-120. If collectors are willing to purchase folded or circulated carp banknotes, the prices are even more affordable, ranging from a few Hong Kong dollars, depending on the condition. Due to its lower entry cost, this banknote is particularly suitable for novice collectors.

If the banknotes are professionally graded and receive high scores, they can be sold for several hundred Hong Kong dollars. Additionally, certain factors can increase their value, such as the AA prefix or the addition of Z or ZZ supplementary editions. Supplementary editions are created when a flawed banknote is discovered during the printing process, resulting in the withdrawal of the faulty note and the issuance of a Z or ZZ replacement edition.

The A and AA prefix banknotes are undoubtedly from the 1980 edition, as the 1981 edition's first prefix is AH. Both the A and AA prefixes can command a higher premium.

Both the 1980 and 1981 editions of the carp banknote have Z prefixes. It is estimated that around 430,000 Z-prefix banknotes were issued in 1980, while the 1981 Z-prefix had approximately 560,000 banknotes. The ZZ-prefix banknotes are all from the 1981 edition and are estimated to have an issuance volume of over 740,000. Compared to the standard prefixes, the Z-prefix is scarcer, resulting in a higher market price.

The carp design continued to appear on Standard Chartered's subsequent small-sized HKD 10 banknotes. Even after the 1980-1981 editions, the carp motif was used on the HKD 10 banknotes issued from 1982 to 1992, but with different designs and sizes. These later editions are also collectible but may not have the same scarcity and value as the initial carp banknotes.

When starting a collection, it's important to consider factors such as availability, affordability, and personal interest. The 1980-1981 HKD 10 carp banknotes offer a suitable starting point for collectors due to their unique design, historical significance, and relatively accessible prices. As with any collectible, it's advisable to research and consult with experts or experienced collectors to ensure the authenticity and value of the banknotes you acquire.


Written by Mr. Scater Choi (2023 Committee member of "香港錢幣研究會(1964)")

Sep 2023