Coins From The Peninsula Colony: 1 Cent (British Malaya, 1945)-Article

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

This square-shaped coin represents the 2nd denomination coin of the British Malayan Dollar (1939). Unlike many British territories, British Malaya used decimalized Dollars rather than Pound. In 1939, the Malayan Dollar replaced the previous Straits Dollar, at par (1:1).

The exchange rate was pegged at 1 British Pound per 2.4 Malayan Dollars. Or alternatively 1 Malayan Dollar for 2 Shillings and 4 Pence. Circulation of the Malayan Dollar was briefly broken, during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya ( 1942–1945). In which, the Japanese introduced their own Invasion Notes, formally known as the Japanese Government-Issued Dollar. These military scrip were informally known in Malaysian as "duit pisang", "Banana Money".

Beginning with the British forces landed at Penang, on 3 September 1945. The Malayan Dollar was gradually re-established by the Controller of Finance and Accounts of the Army Pay Corps. On 1 April 1946, civil authority was re-established Board of Commissioners of Currency Malaya. The Malayan Dollar remained in circulation, until 1953. In which, it was seceded by the Malaya and British Borneo Dollar. Incorporating both the Malayan Dollar and Sarawak Dollar, at par. These notes remain in circulation, until the ending of the common currency arrangement, in 1967.


The observe prominently features a crowned bust of King George VI (1895-1952), in leftward profile. It's text is simple and straight forward, it reads "George VI" (left), "King" (top), and "Emperor" (right). The bronze surface has turned into a vibrant reddish-orange, due to aging. The causal observer can mistake its surface as being made of copper.


The reverse's center boldly lists the coin's "1 CENT" value. The number "1" features a raised edge, it's interior is filled with horizontal ridges. Moving outward is a pair of beaded rings, separating the coin's secondary text. The text is arranged in a circle and reads "COMMISSIONERS OF CURRENCY MALAYA*1945".

The black mark at the reverse's lower left is some minor surface corrosion. This can be remedied with gentle scrubbing. As the corrosion has not caused any pitting, along the affected surface. Luckily bronze is resistant to corrosion, unlike lesser quality material, such as steel and zinc.

Size Comparison

A British Malaya 1 Cent coin with US Penny for comparison.

Additional Notes

  • When the British evacuated Penang in December 1941. Large stockpiles of Malayan Dollars were abandoned, at the Penang treasury.

  • The Japanese Army successfully captured 600,000 One Dollar and 100,000 Five Dollar notes.

  • In Singapore, 4,200,000 One Dollar and 1,000,000 Five Dollar notes were destroyed, by British military to prevent their capture.

  • On 31 August 1948, all notes printed prior to 1 July 1941 were de-monetized.

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