Siamese Coup d’état, Abdication and Banknotes
King Prajadhiphipok, Rama VII, was the son of
King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, and the Brother of King Vajiravudh,
Rama VI. Rama VII reigned from November 25, 1925 until March 2,
During the reign of Rama VII the Siamese revolution
or Siamese coup d’état took place on June 24, 1932. The country ended almost
800 years of absolute monarchy and was transformed into a constitutional
Rama VII signed a temporary charter on June 27, 1932
beginning with “the highest power in the land belongs to all the people”. He
later signed and proclaimed the permanent constitution on December 10, 1933.
Rama VII left Thailand for Europe on December 12,
1933 for an eye treatment. During the next few years, Rama VII, the first
Constitutional Monarch tried his best to exert a constructive influence on
the process of political transition. But when negotiations failed, he
abdicated the throne. He sent his letter of abdication from England on March
2, 1935 where he was recuperating from his eye operation.
In Rama VII’s abdication letter he wrote, “…I am
whole heartedly willing to relinquish the powers vested in me from the times
past to the general populace. However, I will not relinquish them to any one
person or group so that it may be used absolutely without listening to the
real voices of the people.”
When Second Series of Thai Banknotes was to be
designed the printer Thomas de la Rue & Company Limited London (TdlR)
suggested to have a portrait incorporated on the banknotes. This would make
it more difficult to produce counterfeits. TdlR did in 1924 produce
hand-executed designs for the 5-, 10- and 20 Baht with an image portraying
King Vajiravudh, Rama VI. The King did not give his permission; instead he
wanted to have an image of the Royal Ploughing Ceremony on the back of the
Rama VII was the first Thai King to give Royal
permission for an image of his portrait to be printed on a banknote. The
designs from 1924 were presented where the portrait of Rama VI was replaced
with the portrait of Rama VII. But the King did not accept the design
because he wanted an enface portrait.
The change was done by photogravure and accepted by
His Majesty and printed for circulation. This specimen 20 Baht banknote
Third Series, Type I, is initialled as approved by Royal Ministry of
After the coup d’état the name of the Royal Ministry
of Finance was changed to Ministry of Finance. In 1934 the printer TdlR was
instructed to change the title of the Minister of Royal Finance to Minister
of Finance since he was the one authorised to sign the banknote. The change
was done on the plates for the 5-, 20- and never issued 100 Baht, and prints
of the main front plates were sent to the Ministry of Finance to be
initialled as approved.
On April 2, 1935 the Siamese Minister to the United
Kingdom H.E. Phya Subarn Sompati instructed TdlR to “…ante-date all
Currency Notes in course of being printed prior to March 2, 1935.” The
Ministry of Finance sent these instructions to H.E. Phya Subarn Sompati by
telegraph. The reason was obvious. It would not be proper to have dates on
the banknotes with King Rama VII’s portrait on them after the King’s
As an example all 20 Baht banknotes with prefix P/3
to P/10 dated from January 20, 1935 until February 25, 1935 are all printed
after April 26, 1935. The 1 Baht banknotes with prefix B/1 to B/100 dated
from November 21, 1934 to February 28, 1935 are all printed after April
1935.To fill the order of 10 million banknotes TdlR had to date the notes
utilising every day from November 21, 1934 until February 28, 1935. The
majority of the notes were dated prior to when the orders were given. It
would be really fascinating having a collection complete with all the notes
with prefix B/1 till B/100, all antedated.
In a letter dated April 27, 1935 TdlR received new
instructions from The Minister to the United Kingdom on behalf of the
Ministry of Finance; “Portrait of the ex-King in circle was to be replaced
by reproduction of Ananda Samakom Throne Hall (as per photograph enclosed);
the rest of the design unchanged.”
On May 2, 1935 TdlR confirmed to the Siamese Minister
in the United Kingdom that they were preparing impressions incorporating the
Throne Hall instead of the ex King’s portrait. TdlR in the letter pointed
out that in their opinion “both from an aesthetic point of view and from the
point of view of security against forgery, the suggested picture is not
altogether suitable”. TdlR asked if it was possible to use the head of some
famous personage in Siamese history.
The next day TdlR sent two impressions, one of the 1
baht value and one of the 100 Baht value, on which the portrait had been
replaced by a view of the Throne Hall. To produce these TdlR had cut out the
portrait on a specimen 1 Baht note with prefix A/100 dated 20th
November 1934 and the specimen never issued 100 Baht with prefix E/100 dated
February 11, 1933.
New instructions were given TdlR on October 16, 1935.
The Throne Hall was to be replaced by a portrait of the present King. A
photograph would be sent to TdlR directly from Lausanne by His Majesty’s
Personal Secretary. TdlR received the photograph of King Ananda Mahidol,
Rama VIII on December 31, 1935 and on January 2, 1936 an order for 500,000
Five Baht and 1,000,000 Ten Baht banknotes with the new portrait were
placed. Photogravure of the 5 baht and 10 baht was produced dated January 9,
The engraving of the original portrait die would take
6 to 8 weeks. A further 6 weeks would be required to incorporate the
engraving in the 10 Baht die and manufacture the new printing plates. It
would therefore take 5 months before a shipment of banknotes with the new
portrait could be despatched.
On January 18, 1936, the Ministry of Finance asked
TdlR to try their utmost to ship the 10 Baht banknotes with the new portrait
within 4 months. The 10 Baht was initialled as approved by the Siamese
Minister to the United Kingdom H.E. Phya Rajawangsan on April 7, 1936 and
announced on August 13, 1936. The 1- and 5 Baht was also announced in 1936,
while the 20 Baht was first announced on December 15, 1937. These four
denominations were initialled as approved by the Siamese Minister to the
United Kingdom H.E. Phya Rajawangsan.
King Prajadhipok, Rama VII, Museum opened on November 12, 2001. Part of my
banknote collection was exhibited and I had the great honour to explain
about the banknotes to Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana. The
Princess noted that some of the banknotes were dated prior to March 2, 1935
as her brother King Ananda, Rama VIII, was recognised as King by the
National Assembly in March of 1935.
She told me
they must have been quite sure her mother Princess
Srinagarindra would agree
that her son would be the next Thai monarch. I explained that, actually
artwork and specimen banknotes are given a random date, sometimes the date
of the former issue. This photogravure which was never issued was produced
for the Fourth Series with the portrait of Rama VIII. It does have the
prefix P/10 and the date 25th February 1935 which is the last
prefix and date of the issued 20 Baht Third Series with the portrait of Rama
Auction conducted with open doors
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many
auctions around the world have been conducted behind closed doors. The
Bangkok based Eur-Seree auction house had planned their auction, sale #55,
for April 4 and 5. The CEO of Eur-Seree, Vitoon Eurtivong, hoped to have his
many clients present in the auction room as they are used to. He therefore
decided to delay the auction till the authorities gave the permission to do
The auction took place on June 20
and 21 at the Novotel Bangkok in their 700 square meters Benjasiri Ballroom.
Temperatures of all attendees were taken and most of the participants were
seated at 180 cm long tables allowing two people at each table. Snacks and
food were served in individual plates or boxes.
Since the auction catalogue had been
sent out several months ago the collectors had plenty of time to study the
catalogue. This reflected on the prices and several records were set.
A gold one Baht bullet coin, Pod
Duang, sold in 2009 for Baht 300,000 was offered with a starting price of
Baht 300,000. This time the coin was sold for Baht 560,000. It seems like
the interest for collecting bullet coins is increasing. Bullet coins were
used in Thailand for more than 600 years and are an important part of Thai
history. The last bullet coins were produced in 1886, except for a few
commemorative issues. They could be exchanged for flat coins until 1908.
Gold coins had a huge price jump in
the sale. A Government Gold Bond 1,000 Baht 1951 with the weight of 173.879
grams and purity 0.995 had a starting price of Baht 640,000. The coin was
sold for Baht 900,000. The gold value is about Baht 300,000 so the buyer is
not basing the price of the gold value. The gold bond coins were struck in
50-, 100- and 1000 Baht values to repay gold bond loans launched in 1943/44.
Gold bars with the value of 10,000 Baht were also produced. Only one is
known to be privately owned, which in 2015 was sold in the Eur-Seree auction
for Baht 5,400,000.
A 5000 Baht 1974 gold proof coin
struck for the “World Wildlife Preservations Series” sold for a new record
of Baht 320,000. The starting price was Baht 240,000. The coin was graded by
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) to be PF69UC and it is only struck in
623 pieces. A similar graded coin was sold in 2017 for Baht 220,000. The
obverse of this popular coin has the portrait of King Bhumibol, Rama IX, and
on the reverse is the White Eyed River-Martin. In Thailand, with royal
permission, it is named after Princess Sirindhorn. The bird was believed to
be extinct, but rediscovered on February 10, 1968 in Nakon Sawan Province.
A world record was set for a gold
6000 Baht struck in 1982 for Queen Sirikit’s 50th Birthday. Only
99 pieces were struck. It was graded by Professional Coin Grading Service,
PCGS, to be PR69DC. The minimum price was Baht 400,000 and it sold for Baht
Another word record was set for a
rare gold coin struck in 1983 with the low mintage of 253. The 6000 Baht
coin commemorates the “700th Anniversary of the Thai Alphabet.”
In 2017 it was graded by PCGS as PR69DC and sold for Baht 150,000. This time
in a similar grade it sold for three times more, Baht 450,000.
Third part grading has had large
influence on the pricing of coins, medals and banknotes. Some like Third
Party Grading, others do not like it and find that the grading sometimes is
not accurate. From my experience graded coins do sell for higher prices than
raw, ungraded material. In this auction several high-grade silver ¼ Baht
coins with no date, struck from 1976-1900, were sold. They are part of a
popular series from the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V.
In grade MS65 the coin was sold for
Baht 15,000, graded in MS63 it was sold for Baht 6,800 and in MS62 it sold
for Baht 6,000. Sometimes the owner of a coin is not happy with the grading
and takes it out of the slab. The slab is the hard-plastic holder the
third-party grading companies insert the coin into after it is graded. The
owner again sends the coin in for grading hoping it will be graded higher.
This is a gamble, most of the time the coin is graded as before or sometimes
lower and one might be lucky to get a higher grade. To have coins graded,
the companies charge a fee depending on several circumstances like value.
Many collectors collect banknotes
with lucky numbers. In Thailand banknotes with the number 9 are very
popular, the reason can be that nine pronounced in Thai “gao” can mean,
“moving forward”. In China and Japan, the number 8 is very popular, probably
because number eight is the symbol of infinity and good fortune in their
In the auction was a Fifth Series
100 Baht Banknote with the series number 88888 with the portrait of King
Ananda, Rama VII, to the right. The starting price was Baht 250,000 and the
buyer after fascinating bidding ended up paying Baht 800,000 for the
banknote, which were printed in Japan for Thailand during WWII. The
catalogue price for this banknote in uncirculated condition like the one
sold but not a lucky number is Baht 160,000.
A Tenth Series 100 Baht banknote
announced in 1968 with the serial number 999999 had a starting price of Baht
50,000, and was sold for Baht 90,000. The Tenth Series was the last
banknotes Thomas de la Rue & Company Limited London officially produced for
Thailand. 493 million of these beautiful designed banknotes were printed for
circulation. To the right is the portrait King Bhumibol, Rama IX. In nice
condition these banknotes are sold for about Baht 2,000 without the lucky
number or the specimen notes.
A silver coin dated 1987 struck for
the 25th Anniversary of the World Wildlife Fund should have the
face value of 200 Baht. In the auction there was one error or pattern coin
showing the face value of 2500 Baht. The regular coin minted in 22,500
pieces sells for about Baht 5,000 but the error or pattern sold for Baht
600,000. Another of this error or pattern 2500 Baht coin was sold in 2016
for Baht 300,000.
Volapattavechoti, (left) Vice President of Thai medals Association with
Vitoon Eurtivong CEO of Eur-Seree.
Vitoon Eurtivong, the CEO of
Eur-Seree auctions, was happy with the results of the auction. The total
value for Arts, Antiques, Books, Documents, Stamps, Coins, Medals and
Banknotes which changed hands during the 2-day event amounted to Baht 63
million. There were 440 bidders, 360 of them were seasoned bidders and out
of the 80 new registered bidders, 35 of them bought something. Many were
bidding by telephone during the two-day auction sale, more than the double
number experienced from previous auctions. Many did not attend in person
this time because of the present situation, so there was a huge number of
absentees, more than twice the normal number.
It is interesting to notice that
with the pandemic and the economic situation in Thailand and worldwide seems
to have not affected the collecting markets as expected. This is not only
experienced in Thailand, but in several auctions worldwide having taken
place behind closed doors.
Vitoon expressed that after talking
to several of the bidders the “Stay Home Policy” had given more time for
enthusiastic collectors to study their collections and find out what is
missing and what to invest further. Some medium and low value items in the
latest auction sale were affected by the economic difficulties, but it did
not seem to have any effect on high end buyers’ hobby. Vitoon also added
that the Thai collecting circle looks very healthy right now.
Eur-Seree plans their 56th auction
at the Narai Hotel in Bangkok on August 29 and 30, 2020. At this auction
Live Bidding will be possible. The complete 55th auction and
prices realised can be found on
HKINF World Coins Signature Auction
The Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair
was supposed to take place from 13-15 July but had to be
cancelled to keep in line with the government’s latest COVID-19
disease prevention measure. The fair is now scheduled to take
place on 11-13 December 2020.
Heritage Auctions is in Hong Kong
preparing to conduct their auction on 11-13 July 2020. If all goes well
regarding relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions, they hope to conduct a
floor-auction. If that is not possible, they will conduct an online auction.
In the meantime, pre-bidding via
Internet will begin on 17 June onwards until the actual auction day where
the Live Internet bidding will also take place.
Some very interesting Thai coins
from the Dr. Norman Jacobs Collection will be auctioned. At the time of
printing, only a preview was available on www.ha.com. No estimates are
published so far, but I have put some estimates to the value of the coins.
They could sell for more, which would make the consigners happy, or they
could sell for less, making the buyers even happier.
Dr. Norman Jacobs’ was an active
collector and researcher until he passed away in 2004. His collection
includes coins from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. In 2008, a part of Dr.
Norman Jacobs’ collection was sold by Baldwin and Ma Tak Wo in Hong Kong for
US$3,371,800. Since 2011 his Japanese and Korean coins were sold by Heritage
in Long Beach, USA, for US$6.8 million. In the upcoming Hong Kong sale there
will be 31 Thai rarities from Dr. Norman Jacobs’s collection up for sale.
More information and estimations can
be found on www.ha.com/3084
This ‘2 Keeping’ CS1197
(1835) is from the reign of Rama III. According to Ronachai Krisaladaolarn’s
book “The Evolution of Thai Money” tokens were struck in two different
designs, lotus flower and elephant. The Heaton Company in Birmingham struck
the tokens. A theory is that Robert Hunter, an important British trader in
Siam, ordered the tokens.
They were produced for trade with
Singapore as a replacement for the bullet coins. King Nangklao, Rama III,
rejected the tokens, of which 500 pieces were each struck. The one with the
elephant is the most popular and it is offered in the auction. It is graded
by NGC to be PR64. The buyer must probably spend some THB 300,000 to acquire
this token considered by many to be the first flat Thai coin.
The production of bullet coins, ‘pot
duang’ was very time-consuming. So to be able to have coins in
circulation as soon as possible, the Siamese government countermarked the
Mexican 8 Reales with the Mongkut (crown) and the Chakra
(wheel) and were used as legal tender from 1858-1860.
At the auction there is only one
piece dated 1856 graded by NGC to be VF35. These interesting coins are not
often seen for sale, so it would not surprise me if the new owner must pay
more than THB 200,000 for it even though the grade is not the very best.
Queen Victoria presented King
Mongkut, Rama IV, with a hand-driven minting machine. A One Baht coin was
one of the coins produced in 1857-58 on this machine and referred to as
Bannakarn, Royal Gift. The dies were produced in England and during the
voyage became rusty. The imperfections can be distantly seen on the coins
struck in Bangkok with these dies.
2,400 pieces of the One Baht
Bannakarn coin were produced and circulated together with the One baht
1860, which were struck in large numbers on the steam-powered minting
machine ordered from England. The difference between these two coins was
undetected and stayed in circulation together throughout.
When the coins were taken out of
circulation, the Bannakarn coins amongst them were also destroyed.
Hence they are considered a rare coin and not easily found. The One Baht
Bannakarn, Royal Gift, is graded by NGC to be AU55 and will probably
sell for THB 150,000-200,000.
For King Mongkut, Rama IV’s 60th
Birthday, a 4 Baht coin was struck in 1864, both in gold and silver. It is
an impressive coin weighing 60.77 grams.
On the obverse of the 4 Baht coin,
there is the Crown with rays flanked with umbrellas and three branches in
the background, and bordered by 32 stars, each star representing one
Fuang (1/8 Baht).
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.
These coins were used for
presentation purposes, and the King also permitted them to be used for
decorations. The coin in the sale is in silver and graded by NGC to be AU55.
The coin is not considered to be extremely rare but very popular and could
sell for THB 600,000-800,000.
For King Chulalongkorn, Rama V,
several patterns were produced. In the sale, a 2 Baht in nickel graded by
NGC to be in MS63 is being offered. This is a very good grade, but patterns
are normally seen in good condition as they were not intended for
circulation. The larger patterns are more rare and popular and the buyer
will probably be willing to pay about THB 500-700,000 for this pattern.
Royal portrait coins of King
Chulalongkorn, Rama V are very popular. On the reverse is the Siamese Coat
of Arms. A 2 Baht, ½ Tamlung, silver pattern in proof condition are
being offered for sale. The 1-, ¼- and ⅛ Baht in proof are also rare but can
be seen offered in the market from time to time.
For the three denominations in nice
condition, one is expected to pay about THB 500,000-600,000. The two Baht
coin, which was not put in circulation, was also produced in off metal
strikes such as copper and white metal. The one in silver offered in the
auction is extremely rare and popular. It is graded by NGC to be PR62 and
will probably be the most expensive Thai coin in this sale. The price can
reach THB 2.5-3 million.
When King Chulalongkorn, Rama V,
visited Paris during his second European journey, he paid a visit to the
Paris Mint. The King modelled for the chief engraver of the Paris Mint
Henri-August Patey and a 1 Baht coin was produced for circulation.
The 1 Baht coins dated RS 127 (1908)
were never put in circulation because they arrived in Thailand after the
King had passed away and were distributed at his cremation ceremony. The
Essai Patterns of this popular coin were produced for the ¼-, ½ - and 1
Baht. All three denominations for the Essai are offered in the sale. The ½
Baht offered are dated 128 (1909) and is the rarest denomination of these
The one offered in the sale is by
NGC graded to be MS64. One of these ½ Baht coins was reportedly sold in
Singapore at a Taisei auction in 1997 for US$23,000. Another of this rare
coin was sold privately some time back. Probably the price in the Heritage
auction will be more than THB 2 million.
Successful Spink auction in Hong Kong
Spink & Son was founded in the UK in 1666 and
today have companies in USA, Switzerland, China, Singapore and
Japan. The China Company was established in Hong Kong in 2011.
Spink is well known in South East Asia having been conducting
joint auctions with other well-known companies from the 1980s.
The latest Spink coin and banknotes
auction in Hong Kong took place on May 10 and 11. The auction took place
because of the pandemic.
This did not actually reflect
negatively on the prices. The total sales were HK$18,550,320, or more than
THB 75 million. The banknotes sold for a total value of HK$13,179,180 and
coins were sold for a total of HK$5,371,149.
The most expensive banknote was a Hong
Kong, Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, 10 Dollar denomination
dated 1st January
1905. The note sold for HK$696,000 even it was only graded by Paper Money
Guaranty, PMG, to be 20, which is Very Fine. Only three of these banknotes
are known to exist. Last time it was sold was 20 years ago, so for this note
collectors cannot be picky. The printer of the note was W.W. Sprague & Co.
In recent years interest for specimen
banknotes have got the attention of many collectors. It can be assumed that
some of the banknote printers have sold from their archives, so material
never seen before has become available. At the Spink sale a specimen 500
dollar ultra rare Hong Kong, Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China
dated 1.3.1912 sold for HK$600,000 even with 6-hole punch cancelations. The
note was printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd., England and graded by PMG to be
40, Extremely Fine.
From the Republic of China, a One
Dollar Specimen coin 1921 struck in gold with the portrait of President Xu
Shi Chang sold for HK$600,000. On the reverse of this Commemorate Coin is
the Huai Ren Hall. The coin was struck for the inauguration of President Xu
in the Tenth Year of the Republic of China.
Another One Dollar Specimen coin from
1924 struck in gold was sold for HK$624,000. On the obverse is the portrait
of President Duan Qi Rui. The inscription on the reverse reads “He Ping” in
Chinese, meaning Peace.
Banknotes from Peoples Republic of
China are popular. A 5000 Yuan 1951 issue showing a traditional Mongolian
Yurt. I understand it is a portable, round tent covered with skins and used
as dwellings by nomadic groups in the steppes of Central Asia. The banknote
was graded by PMG to be 30, Very Fine, and sold for HK$300,000.
Kelvin Cheung, Global Head of
Banknotes, Spink China, expressed that the COVID-19 has not affected the
local Banknote market. The Chinese and Hong Kong coins have even gone up
more in value. Since the auction was behind closed doors and viewing was
restricted, Spink China uploaded short video clips of important items so
prospective bidders could view them in different angles under natural light.
Spink China is conducting an e-auction
on the 12th of July, and plans a floor auction on 18th and 19th of August
2020 in conjunction with the Hong Kong Coin Show held from 21st to 23rd of
The Eur-Seree Collecting Co in Bangkok
planned their Sale #55 to be conducted April 4 and 5, and the catalogue was
printed. The dates were postponed to April 25 and 26 because of the
pandemic. Depending on Government restrictions Vitoon Eurtivong, CEO of
Eur-Seree, hopes to conduct the sale at the end of June or beginning of
Some years ago, Eur-Seree had as many
as 1,000 floor bidders in the room for a sale. Normally 400 to 500 hundred
collectors and dealers turn up for the popular sales. Vitoon Eurtivong plans
for the coming sale to have some 20 of his staff operating telephones for
prospective bidders not being able to attend. In the future the company will
also be conducting live auctions.
Vitoon Eurtivong is of the opinion that
in Thailand the buyers prefer to be at the auctions for inspection and
bidding. At the sales other dealers are invited to exhibit what they have
for sale so the ones attending do have a chance to buy something at fixed
prices. Of great importance also at the auction is meeting other collectors
and dealers to exchange information and have a social gathering.
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.