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.