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Update by Thanaphon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
 

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 A.D.

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 collectors.

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 coins.

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 www.eurseree.com

The auction catalogue can be bought for 1500 Baht inside Thailand or sent oversees by airmail for US$ 35.

For more information please contact [email protected]

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 Baht.


 

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 incineration.


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 Baht.


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 Thailand.

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 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.

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 broad thaler.

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 occasion.

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 era.

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 sold.

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.




HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

The first Thai banknotes

Eur-Seree Collecting Auction 55

4 Baht 1864 commemorative coin and Tamlung bullet coin

Silver and Gold 1997 UNICEF commemorative coins