Successful auction in Hong Kong
In these difficult times coin shows and auctions are often
postponed or cancelled. Some coin auctions are successfully
conducted behind closed doors.
In 1978, when I started with coin and banknote auctions
in Oslo, Norway, there were three options to bid. Mail bids, telephone bids
and personally attending the auction. Today professional auction companies
have the three mentioned options, but in addition they have Internet
Absentee or Proxy Bidding, Email, Fax and iBid Live bidding.
My favourite is iBid Live Bidding where you can sit in
the comfort of your home, office or any other place and see what is
happening in the auction room. To put in your bid, you press on the bidding
sign or add the amount of your bid. One can also use mobile devices such
smart phones or tablets.
Today ‘Live Bidding’ in person is difficult because of
the coronavirus pandemic. The auction companies have to follow directives
given by local mandates at the time of the auction and for many it is
difficult or impossible to travel.
Attending auctions in person is very effective, not
only for the bidding, but handing in your consignments, meeting colleagues
and collectors with the same collection interests and getting valuable
information from other professionals.
Even though many auction companies today have the
coins, medals and banknotes graded by a third party grading company, traders
find it of great importance to see the actual object. Many coin enthusiasts
are eagerly looking forward to being able to attend auctions in person
Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio conducted an auction sale
in Hong Kong on 4 -7 May 2020. The company is well established in Asia for
the past 10 years and have a very good reputation. They have professional
bidding options and listed almost 6000 objects for the sale in two gigantic
catalogues, one for coins and medals and the other for banknotes.
Nirat Lertchitvikul, Director of Asian Operation, a
Thai citizen, has worked with Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio in Hong Kong since
the day the company established in Asia. He said that even though the world
was suffering an economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, the coin
and banknote market is still thriving, even if auctions had to be conducted
behind closed doors.
In the four-day sale, Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio sales
amounted to US$13,265,604 (THB about 423,438,000). The sale of coins and
medals amounted to US$12,287,832 and the banknotes sales were US$977,772.
This is the second largest coin and banknote auction conducted in Asia. In
August 2011 Stack’s Bowers sold coins and banknotes for more than
The most expensive coin in the sale was a Chinese
Silver Dollar Pattern Year 18 (1929) produced by the Rome Mint. This
magnificent and extremely rare pattern was estimated at US$90,000 to
US$120,000 and sold for US$252,000.
Several banknotes were sold for record prices. The most
expensive was a China-Empire, Ta-Ching Government Bank, 10 Dollar, No Date
(1910). Estimation was US$20,000 to US$25,000 and sold for US$60,000.
A China, Kweichow Auto Dollar, Year 17 (1928) in high
grade sold for US$120,000. The estimation was US$50,000 to US$70,000. The
coin was produced to commemorate the completion of the Kweichow (Guizhou)
Provincial Highway and reportedly features Governor Zhou Xicheng’s personal
automobile. It is said that the automobile was imported from the United
States and arrived before the Highway was completed. On arrival to China it
was dissembled, carried on foot over the mountains to Kweichow, and
reassembled so Zhou was able to drive it around. Today the interest of
collecting coins depicting cars is popular. The most reasonable Auto Dollar
in the auction was sold for US$16,800.
A very popular Thai Medal was the most expensive of the
Thai materials. The estimation was US$7,000 to US$10,000, and the buyer had
to pay US$38,400, more than 1.2 million baht. The Haw Campaign Silver Medal
was produced in CS 1246 (1884) during the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Rama
The 2 Baht Silver Crown, ND (1863) produced during the
reign of King Mongkut, Rama IV, is not very rare, but very popular. Not only
because of the nice design, but also because for years it was the only crown
sized Thai coin and therefore collected internationally. In the sale there
were several pieces, the most expensive was graded by NGC to be MS65 and
sold for US$14,400. This was lower than expected because of the high grade,
but as the coin had carbonized dots on the obverse, not remarked by the
grading company, it was sold for the reserve price. These carbonized dots
can get bigger in the future. The spots could have been caused by planchet
imperfections prior to striking the coin or improper storage. These spots
are very difficult or impossible to remove.
In May last year Stack’s Bowers sold a 2 Baht ND
(1863), also graded by NGC and to be MS64, a lower grade than the one sold
this year. The coin in the lower grade sold for US$16,800 last year. This
coin has a very nice natural patina, which is appreciated by many
collectors. The famous American collector Virgil Brand was known to have
collected coins with natural patina only.
In the sale this month the most reasonable 2 Baht ND
(1863) was sold for US$2,100 graded by NGC as UNC Details – Stained.
Director of Asian Operations Stack’s Bowers, Nirat
Lertchitvikul, was impressed that twelve of the Chinese coins in the auction
were sold for more than US$100,000.
One of the currency notes, which stands
out from the other series, is the 1-Baht note, which was announced June 3,
1946. The note was produced by Thomas de da Rue & Company Limited, London (TdlR)
and ordered by St. Luke’s Printing Works (Bank of England) on behalf of the
During that period the Japanese
Imperial Army controlled the economy in Siam which also included the
circulation of banknotes. So, in 1945 the Allied Forces set a plan in motion
to print new 1-Baht notes which would look very different to the ones in
use. They would then circulate these new banknotes in those areas that they
seized back from the Japanese as a symbol of liberation.
This plan was kept secret from the
Siamese Government, as they did not want their invasion strategy leaked to
On August 20, 1945, the War Office
planned to produce 7 different denominations.
25 Satang - 10 million pcs
50 Satang -12 million pcs
1 Baht - 100 million pcs
5 Baht - 60 million pcs
10 Baht - 30 million pcs
20 Baht - 15 million pcs
100 Baht - 1 million pcs
The face value for all the planned
notes printed amounted to Baht 1,108,500,000. - (Over 1 Billion Baht).
These quoted numbers are validated by
of a letter dated January 16, 1946 written by St. Luke’s Printing Works to
Thomas de da Rue & Company Limited.
Though photographic gravure for all the
denominations (except for 50 satang) were produced and approved by the
British War Office, but as far as I know the original artwork was produced
for the 1 Baht and 100 Baht note only.
On August 10, 1945 St. Luke’s Printing
Works (Bank of England) gave instructions to Thomas de da Rue & Company
Limited, London (TdlR) to print 10 million 1-Baht notes.
The other denominations were never
printed. Thus the 1-Baht note is the only note that was actually printed.
On January 24, 1946 TdlR presented a
quotation for the printing of 1, 5, 10, 20 & 100 baht notes, but apparently
because the war had ended, there was no more need for the Invasion Notes, so
the plan was put on hold.
After the war, the Siamese Government
was in urgent need of banknotes, but TdlR was unable to print any notes for
Siam at that time. Sadly, during the war, their building in London, where
the printing press was located, was heavily damaged by aerial bombardment,
incapacitating their production capabilities immensely. Another reason was,
they had a prior commitment to fulfil a very large order from China.
The Siamese Government learned that
there were already 10 million 1-Baht Invasion Notes printed. They
requested the British War Office to give them the notes, which were put into
circulation on June 3, 1946.
But before the notes were put into
circulation, a small change was made. The words, ‘Thai Government’
were superimposed over the words ‘Issued in Siam’. Below that,
the words ‘This note is legal tender in accordance with the law’
Third Party Grading, NGC and PCGS
American Numismatic Association Coin Grading (ANACS),
was established in 1972 and started grading coins in 1979. In
1986 Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) started and a year
later in 1987, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) was
Today PCGS and NGC are the market
leaders in coin grading. Both companies also grade banknotes and medals. And
what do they do?
Actually, it was a revolution in coin
collecting. Experts graded the coin and it is encapsulated in a clear
plastic holder known as a “slab” with a label identifying the coin and the
grade of the coin. Some coins cannot be graded because of damages like
hairlines, environmental damage, artificial toning and edge damages to
mention only a few.
In the early days I must admit that I
hated graded coins. Whenever I bought a graded coin, I would take it out of
the slab immediately. Taking a coin out of the slab is not easy. One has to
put the plastic holder into a cloth and hammer gently on the edge to crack
it. It is important to be very careful so the plastic holder does not damage
The reason why I did not like slabbed
coins is that sometimes I disagreed with the grading and wrong
identification. This was the case in the early days when the grading
companies started grading not only US coins but also foreign coins.
Later, when I attended coin shows in
Hong Kong and China, I saw it was almost impossible to sell ungraded coins,
also called “raw” coins. The reason was that the market was floating with
fakes and copies produced in China, not only Chinese coins were faked, also
The grading companies are giving a
financial guarantee that the grade is correct and that the coin is genuine.
If it is later found out and proved that the grade is not correct or a coin
is a fake, the buyer is paid the true value of the genuine coin by the third
With third grading it is also saves a
lot of discussions between the seller and buyer about the grade. With “raw”
coins there are often long discussions about the grade, the seller often
thinks the grade is better and the buyer is of the opinion that the coin
grades less. The price difference is significant. A better grade coin in
cost much more than a lower grade coin.
Coins are graded from 1 to 70 with 70
being the highest. In catalogues, coins are now often graded with numbers,
which were formerly graded as Good, Fine, Very Fine, Extremely Fine and
Uncirculated. As an example of prices, the Standard Catalogue of World Coins
1701-1800, 7th Edition, states that a Flowing Hair Dollar graded VF40 is
valued at US$300,000 while the MS60 grade is valued at US$1,000,000.
Another example is the Norway 2 kroner
1907 Independence, graded MS64. (pictured) In the Standard Catalogue of
World Coins 2019 it is valued in MS63 at US$295. In VF20 it is valued at
US$50. The pictured coin is graded MS64, so it can be sold for quite a lot
more than the one in the catalogue graded at the best MS63.
A very popular Thai coin is the Tamlung,
4 baht, with no date, struck in 1864 to commemorate King Mongkut, Rama IV’s
60th Birthday. Inside the frame on the reverse it has the inscription Krung
Siam, Kingdom of Siam. Outside the frame the inscription is Cheng Ming,
which is the name of the King in Chinese, and Tung Pao, which means lawful
money. In the Standard Catalogue of Coins 1801-1900, 8th Edition it is
valued in MS60 up to US$24,000.
The pictured coin is graded to be AU55
so the value according to the catalogue is worth less.
The pictured one Baht 1876-1900 is
graded to be MS66. In the Standard Catalogue of Coins 1801-1900, 8th
Edition, the coin is graded from F12 to MS60. In MS60 it is valued at
US$250. Why it is not valued in the higher grades like the MS66 is because
it very rarely turns up in this grade. Probably the auction price of a one
Baht in MS66 would sell for between US$2,000 to US$3,000.
The Thailand 1 Baht 1876-1900 was also
struck in PROOF meaning that it was struck with polished dies. Those were
presentation pieces and in PF60 grade it is valued at US$6,000. Probably the
pictured coin graded in PF65 could be sold for more.
The pictured Great Britain Gothic Crown
graded PF60 has a catalogue value of US$6,000. As the pictured coin is
graded in PF58 it is worth less.
The pictured Netherlands, Utrecht gold
Ducat 1724, is from the ship Akerendam that sank off Runde Island on the
coast of Norway in 1725. The shipwreck was found by divers in 1972 and 6,505
pieces of the Ducat was salvaged. Prior to the wreck of the Akerndam only
one Ducat 1724 was known to exist, so I assume the owner must have been
disappointed when several thousands more were available in the market. This
pictured coin is graded in MS65. This is one of the best of the rescued
coins and is only graded in the catalogue in MS60 at US$850, so I assume a
MS65 would be sold for quite a lot more.
PCGS also put two or three coins in one
slab, the ones with two coins are called duo-holders. Pictured is the Thai
gold 200 Baht and silver 2000 Baht 1997 UNICEF. Only 1290 pieces of the gold
coin and 2123 pieces of the silver coin were minted. Both coins are graded
to be PR70, the highest grade, and I assume the value is around US$1,200.
Some dealers and collectors like
grading while others do not. The ones who do not like it argue that one
should be able to have “contact” with the coin and think that coin
collecting is too commercialized. They have the enjoyment of doing the
investigation themselves as a part of the hobby. They also argue that graded
coins take up much more space.
The ones who like the grading are
sometimes the ones with less knowledge and look at coin collecting as an
investment. They do not want to spend the time discussing the grade with the
seller and like to have the financial guarantee from the third-party grader
of the quality and that the coin is genuine. From my experience graded coins
are often sold for at higher prices than raw coins.
So, what happens in the market after
the coins are graded? It seems like everyone wants to have coins top graded
from AU55 to MS70. They do command very high prices at auctions unless they
are very rare, while the ones in less quality are often not sold even when
they are nice coins.
Sometimes it is better to sell the
coins, which are not in the top grades raw, as someone might be of the
opinion that it is actually better than when graded by the auctioneer and
will be graded higher by the third-party grader.
The first Thai banknotes
(Copyright Bank of England)
History records that the first paper banknotes
were issued during the Chinese Tang and Song dynasties in the 7th century
In 1661, Sweden was the first European
country to issue banknotes. The Bank of England was established in 1694, and
issued banknotes in 1695.
Jorgen Thor Mohlen, a wealthy merchant
in Bergen, Norway, received permission from King Christian V of Denmark and
Norway to issue the very first bank notes in Norway in 1695.
The notes were printed on one big piece
of paper and about one third of the right side was ripped off. This part
stayed with the issuer to prevent forgeries and could be matched when the
notes were to be redeemed. This project was not a success as people who
owned these notes used them to pay tax. Having collected a lot of tax, the
King presented the notes to Thor Mohlen to get silver in exchange.
Unfortunately, during that period Thor
Mohlen incurred heavy losses on colonial trade and the Great Fire of 1702
and could not pay. He was declared bankrupt.
Foreign banks operating in Thailand
produced the first banknotes issued in Thailand. These were Hongkong &
Shanghai Banking Corporation, the Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China
and the Banque de l’Indochine.
In 1891 Thai banknotes were printed by
Giesecke & Devrient Co. in Berlin, Germany.
Unfortunately, the notes were not put
in circulation. Navarat Laekhakula, author, economist and an expert on the
history of Thai currency, explained in his book “Bia, Baht, Coin, Banknotes”
that in 1893 (RE112), “a conflict arose between Thailand and France. The
French government dispatched gunboats to confront Thai armed forces, causing
Thailand to cede the territories on the left bank of the Mae Khong River (in
Laos) to France. Thailand was also required to pay compensation of three
million Francs in coin. The situation put a halt to the adoption of treasure
notes.” The notes printed in Germany were destroyed. Only a small number
were kept as samples and these are very popular and valuable among
On September 7, 1902 the first Thai
banknotes, First Series, were put into circulation. The notes were produced
by Thomas de la Rue & Company, Limited, London, and had the denominations of
5-, 10-, 20- 100- and 1,000 Baht. The other circulating denominations were
For years the Bank of England had only
printed one-sided banknotes. The last one-sided note was issued in 1957 and
ceased to be legal tender in 1961. As the Thai notes were to be printed in
England it was suggested to the Royal Thai Treasury department to have the
First Series printed on one side only.
The prefixes used for the First Series
of Thai Banknotes were: 5 Baht-prefix A, 10 Baht-prefix B, 20 Baht-prefix C,
100 Baht-prefix D and 1000 Baht-prefix E in front of the serial number. This
is the very first printed 10 Baht note with prefix B1 and the serial number
00001. Many collectors do appreciate the first printed banknotes and the
last printed banknotes. Banknotes with a solid number are also very popular.
In Thailand, the number 999999 is prized and in high demand.
Before a run of notes was to be
printed, a specimen note had to be approved by the Royal Thai Treasury
Department in Bangkok. In the early years this process was very time
consuming, so the Minister (Ambassador) at the Thai Legation in London was
assigned to the task H.E. the Minister could only approve notes already
circulating, so new designs had to be sent to Bangkok for approval. On
February 7, 1911, this 1,000 Baht note was signed as approved by H.E. Phya
Akaraj Waradhara. The last banknote First Series was dated in 1923. The
first notes in the Second Series, printed on both sides, was announced
February 18, 1925.
Eur-Seree Collecting Auction 55
Eur-Seree will be conducting their
55th auction at the Narai Hotel in Bangkok on April 4 and 5, 2020. 2880
Lots are to be sold in the auction.
A variety of collector’s objects
are to be sold, including, documents, books, photographs, watches,
stamps, coins medals and banknotes to mention but just a few.
About 20 dealers will be exhibiting
their collections during the viewing and the auction. So if you have no
luck in buying your favourite choice at the sale, you might find
something interesting from the exhibiting dealers.
The catalogue can be seen on
The auction catalogue can be bought
for 1500 Baht inside Thailand or sent oversees by airmail for US$ 35.
For more information please contact
There are many collections of Royal
Photographs and when signed are even more popular and are in high
demand. For example a signed photograph of Rama VI is offered. The
signature “Maha Vajiravudh 1907” is prominent on the front and
the words “The King of Siam given to the Dean of Gloucester” is
inscribed on the back. The starting price is 175,000 Baht.
For collectors of autographs there
is good chance to get signed Royal documents. In Lot 52 there is a
document signed by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Thai about land
mortgage. It is a nice document and the starting price is only 8,000
A gold Pod Duang, bullet
coin, 1 Baht, from the period 1851-68 is offered with a starting price
of 300,000 Baht. It is in an Almost Uncirculated condition and
both marks are very clear. The very same coin was sold in the Eur-Seree
auction in 2009 for the same as the starting price in this auction.
Should be a very good buy.
Silver Pod Duang, bullet
coins, can be bought for less than 1,000 Baht. In Lot 1466 there are 13
pieces of 1 Baht coins and the starting price is 7,000 Baht. The coins
are from the reign of King Rama III, 1824-51. The weight of one coin is
around 15 grams. If one is interested in bullet coins it is worth
spending some time to study the catalogue.
In recent years the interest for
copper coins in high grades has increased. Prior to this, most of the
collectors were concentrating on the silver coins. But many realized
that it was actually harder to find a copper coin in good condition.
The reason being, in the reign of
King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, it was the copper coins that were being
circulated the most.
In this sale there is also a 2
Att, Seo, from RS109 (1890) graded by the Professional Coin
Grading Service (PCGS) to be MS63RB, which is the same as
Uncirculated. If it can be bought for the starting price of 10,000
Baht, it is a very good buy.
In 1907 King Chulalongkorn, Rama V,
paid a visit to Norway. The King visited Oslo and went all the way up to
North Cape. In Oslo His Majesty stayed at the palace with King Haakon,
Queen Maud and Crown Prince Olav.
In 1997 a commemorative medal was
produced to mark the 90th anniversary
of the visit. The obverse depicts the portrait of King Chulalongkorn and
King Haakon and the reverse shows King Chulalongkorn standing with his
entourage around the large rock at North Cape on which he had engraved
his name to commemorate his visit.
Today the rock can be seen at the
Thai Museum at North Cape. The medal was produced in collaboration
between the Royal Thai Mint and the Royal Norwegian Mint. At the
Eur-Seree auction, one large 42 mm silver medal is offered with a
starting price of 7,000 Baht.
The banknote with the highest
starting price of 600,000 Baht is a 1,000 Baht note produced by Thomas
de la Rue & Company Limited, London. The note arrived in Thailand in
1952, but for various reasons was never put in circulation. The
speculated reason is, probably that some thought a bank note with such a
high denomination would lead to inflation. Out of the 500,000 notes
printed about 100 were kept as samples. The rest were destroyed by
A very popular series of coins is
the 2000 Millennium “Year of Dragon” coins. A 5 ounce 200 Baht
coin produced by The Singapore Mint is also featured in the sale. On the
obverse is the portrait of the HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej and on the
reverse is a colourful design with dragons. The starting price is 70,000
4 Baht 1864 commemorative coin and Tamlung bullet coin
The 4 Baht 1864 commemorative coin.
The 4 Baht Tamlung, Pod Fuang or
bullet coin with Mongkut and Chakra.
Up to the year 2000, the 4 baht 1864 with a
diameter of 45 mm was the largest flat coin produced for
In 2000 A.D. the slightly larger
Millennium coins were produced by the Singapore Mint for Thailand. They were
the 65 mm Silver 200 Baht and the 55 mm Gold 2,500 Baht coins.
The 4 Baht 1864 coin was struck in gold
and silver to commemorate the 60th Birthday
of King Mongkut, Rama IV. The coins were used for presentation purposes and
the King also permitted them to be used for decorations.
On the obverse of the 4 Baht coin there
is the Crown with rays flanked with umbrellas with three branches in the
background, and bordered by 32 stars, each star representing one Fuang (1/8
The reverse has the inscription,
Krung Siam enclosed within a frame and the Chinese legend Cheng Ming
Tung Pao outside the frame. “Cheng Ming” is the name of King Rama
IV in Chinese and “Tung Pao” means “lawful money”. There are two
types; one with the double-lined frame and dots around the rim, and the
other with a single-lined frame without dots.
The descriptions of the obverse and
reverse are from the book “Coinage of the Rattanakosin era 1782-1982 AD”.
The gold 4 Baht coin is very rare and
during the last 30 years only a few transactions have taken place. One
collector had two pieces in his collection bought during the last 30 years.
He later sold both sets, one by private treaty and one in an auction sale.
The 4 baht coin turns up in auctions
from time to time. The price is varied, based on the quality. The prices I
have seen have been from 300,000 Baht to 500,000 Baht. For a 4 Baht coin in
perfect condition the price might be considerably higher. Because of the
size and weight, a little more than 60 grams, this coin is considered a
If one would like a Thai 4 Baht coin in
their collection, the alternative would be to buy a 4 Baht Tamlung, Pod
Fuang or bullet coin also issued during the reign of King Mongkut, Rama
4. This very nice coin is from 1851 and originally struck for the coronation
of Rama IV. The price of this bullet coin is from 50,000 Baht to 150,000
Baht depending on the quality.
Silver and Gold 1997
UNICEF commemorative coins
UNICEF 2000 Baht Gold commemorative coin.
UNICEF 200 Baht Silver commemorative coin.
The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations
agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to
children around the world. It was established in 1946 as the United
Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) by the U.N.
General Assembly to provide immediate hunger relief and healthcare to
children and mothers in countries devastated by World War II. In 1950,
UNICEF’s mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children
and women in developing countries, and in 1953 it became a permanent
part of the United Nations System.
In 1989, the UN General Assembly passed
the “Convention on the Rights of Children” (UNCRC) which is a human rights
treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and
cultural rights of children. The Convention defines a child as any human
being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained
earlier under national legislation.
On the 50th anniversary of UNICEF in
1997, many countries minted commemorative coins to mark the auspicious
Thailand aimed to mint the Silver 200
Baht and the Gold 2000 Baht coins. But due to a lack of capacity to mint the
coins here, the Royal Thai Mint commissioned the Royal Norwegian Mint to
produce the coins on their behalf.
The original plan was to produce two
types and denominations of the coins. The first was for 10,000 gold coins
with a portrait of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX on the obverse.
The reverse would depict an image of a studious girl from a bygone Siamese
The second type was for 25,000 silver
coins. The obverse would depict a portrait of the late king Bhumibol
Adulyadej, Rama IX and the reverse would show children playing a traditional
Thai game called “Mark Keb”.
Unfortunately, in 1997 the Asian
financial crises gripped East Asia and South East Asia. Thailand was no
exception. In May of 1997 the Thai Baht was hit by massive speculative
attacks. In January 1998, the Thai Baht which had an exchange value of 25 to
the US Dollar tumbled alarmingly down to 56 Baht to the US Dollar.
The economic situation was rather
gloomy, which also sent the coin market into doldrums. Because these special
UNICEF coins were produced only on order, only 2123 pieces of the 200 Baht
Silver Coins and 1290 pieces of the 2000 Baht Gold coins were produced and
This was one of the lowest numbers of
Thai coins ever sold.
But the numismatic world is unique, and
as fate may have it, those who bought the UNICEF coins back in 1998 can
cherish in the fact that their investment is now worth 3-5 times more than
what they paid for them.