Gold Coins of Thailand

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As of today, Thailand is known for its exotic culture, unique cuisine, and scintillating night-life. But behind all the mystique and allure, Thailand is also a place rich in history and mysticism. However, if material things are more one’s league than intangible thoughts and old legends, Thailand is also a source of rare historical artifacts that can be the crowning glory to any collection while doubling as an investment item. These historical artifacts may range from antiques, to natural riches, and of gold coins. With the global economy in a constant state of fluctuation, everybody seems to be turning to precious metal investment to hopefully have a firm hold on their finances in a secure and eternally-reliable manner, regardless of any potential economic crashes that may come. While the majority of Asia (China, Japan) has responded to the growing rise of bullion investors and collectors by releasing high-quality gold bullion in a similar (if not often superior) make to the gold bullion of the west, several Asiatic countries, among them Thailand, have kept a relatively low profile with regards to their own gold coins, as not many examples of it are found in the international gold bullion market.

Investment-wise, Thailand lacks any gold coins of the reputation enough to be made into great investment pieces. Numismatically however, Thailand has some of the most beautiful gold coins that span much of its history as a kingdom. While it isn’t at all difficult or impossible to obtain Thai-gold coins, selling them outside of Thailand is a whole other matter entirely. In a country where the black market is easily accessible and rumours of fraudulent items run amok, it can be difficult to purchase authentic gold coins of superior purity.[1]

For those who know where to look and don’t mind telling others however, Thailand is a hotbed for excellent examples of gold bullion coins, both historical and whimsical. Thailand’s gold coins are considered an artisan craft, and unlike the artisan gold coins of the West that are made from machines, the majority of Thai-gold coins are still created using traditional methods, making them more costly than say, a gold bar of similar purity but twice the weight.

Official Thailand gold coins began being minted sometime in the middle to late 1800s, with examples that possess very fine qualities of workmanship and aesthetics. All gold coins of Thailand, though they differ in size and weight, follow a standard purity of 96.5% gold (equivalent to 23-carats). Unlike other gold-alloy bullions, examples that come from Thailand use silver in lieu of copper to act as a hardening agent. Measured in baht (both a unit of weight and of currency), a gold coin weighing 1 baht is equal to 15.244 grams of 23-carat gold, with an asking price of whatever is the current gold price at present. Unlike in the West, where gold prices fluctuate wildly, Thai-gold does not fluctuate very often and gold prices are regulated by the Thai Gold Traders Association.[2] One of the most common gold coins one can find in Thailand is fanciful gold coins possessing no face value or legal tender. These are either worn as jewelry or simply collected as pieces of art. Due to the still somewhat traditional methods of making gold coins as opposed to bars, ingots, and plain rounds, coins are treated as something akin to jewelry and can fetch higher prices than the standard price of bars or ingots. Another coin that is worth trying to get one’s hands on is the historical gold coins of Thailand. Issued in 1860 by King Rama IV, and later re-issued in 1894 by his successor, King Rama V, these gold coins portray the superior and unique traditional metal-crafting of Thailand.[3] Originally given as gifts to visiting dignitaries and to members and friends of the royal family, authentic examples of these coins are scare and very valuable, although modern imitations sold by goldsmiths and local gold artisans are also available. Earlier examples of gold coins dated to the early 1860s – 1870s are also available, albeit somewhat more scarce.[4] If one intends to invest in Thai-gold, it is advised that they spend more time trying to procure the older imperial-issue gold coins in lieu of the modern artisan ones, or otherwise focus on procuring official commemorative gold coinage, as these features will invariably affect its salability outside of Thailand, if such a move is ever in order.

The production of early modern Thai-gold coins began sometime in the early 1960s. Among the most well noted are the commemorative gold coins specifically minted to honour the 36th birthday of their queen. Another, more modern type of Thai-gold coin is the 4, 000 baht gold coin issued sometime in circa 1981 – 1982. Some examples of these gold coins, though scarce, are available through select numismatic catalogues and are worth having (if for the sake of collection only). Made of .900 fine gold, these feature a more atypical aesthetic found in many modern coins.[5] Of interest to collectors are the UNICEF gold coins minted in Thailand in the same year as the mintage of their own bullion coin. Made from the same gold purity, these coins (bearing a similar face value) come in both proofs, bullion uncirculated, and circulated versions.[6] Rarer somewhat than the former Thai-gold coin, many numismatists with an interest in historical or commemorative coins would pay a goodly sum to obtain examples.

Today, the status of gold as an investment in Thailand is almost similar to the rest of the world’s view regarding the precious metal, however, the area of gold coins to be used as investment material proves to be very obscure in a society where gold coins are co-equated with artisan craft. Nevertheless, for interested collectors, obtaining a number of historical, early modern, and artisan Thai gold coins can still be rewarding.

Gold Coins of Thailand - References:


Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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