A post from Shady Characters

Back in business

$100 HKD - is that an emoticon?
A Bank of China note for one hundred Hong Kong dollars. Is that some sort of double-decker emoticon at bottom right?

Thank you for bearing with me for the past few weeks! My wife and I got back from our honeymoon last weekend, and normal service can resume now that the jet lag has more or less dissipated.

The picture above, in case you’re wondering, was taken in a Hong Kong restaurant when I realised that a HK$100 note with which we were about to pay bore what looked almost like a double-decker emoticon at the bottom left. I snapped a photograph with my phone, we paid for our meal, and I thought no more about it until now. A quick check of Wikipedia this afternoon took me to this site, which shows both the front and back of this series of note, and the mystery was solved. What looks like :·)·) — a sort of bearded smiley — is, in fact, the number “100”, with half of each digit displayed on the front of the note and the other half on the back. Holding it up to the light would have cleared things up right away.

Thanks again for your patience, and stay tuned for Miscellany № 32 later today!

2 comments on “Back in business

  1. Comment posted by Jerry Zar on

    The lower right corner of the Hong Kong 100-dollar note is indeed interesting. So is the lower left corner. At the lower left are seven dots below what appears to be a serial number: AU802411. Those seven dots are the Braille signs for 100. (They are actually the letters a, j, j, which a Braille reader would readily understand to be 1, 0, 0 because a is the 1st letter of the alphabet and j is the 10th and is used to represent zero.)

    Of course, in order for a blind person to read these symbols, they would have to be raised dots on the paper. I wonder how many other countries’ currencies have information on them in Braille.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Jerry — how odd! Thank you for pointing that out.

      Wikipedia claims that Canadian banknotes carry embossed Braille signs for their denominations, and this China Briefing article suggest that Hong Kong banknotes do the same, although I don’t recall whether the banknotes we handled were embossed or not. It looks like Hong Kong notes of different denominations are also differentiated by their size, as is done here in the UK.

      Thanks for the comment!

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