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 so.
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 860,000.
Another world 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 language.
In the auction was a Fifth Series 100 Baht Banknote with the series number 88888 with the portrait of King Ananda, Rama VIII, 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.
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 www.eurseree.com