On Sept 29 2013, a 1969 50 sen Malaysian coin fetched close to RM3,000 in an auction by Museum Negara. Upon reading this news, I was very excited and started to go through my piggy bank of coins, confident that I have one in my collection. Every time I hear about an old coin or old bank note being sold at a price higher than its face value, I would do this.
Well, I didn’t have any 50 sen coin from 1969, unfortunately, but I wanted to find out from an expert why that particular coin fetched such a good price. Just in case I come across one at a later time, you see.
My quest for knowledge on coins brought me to this place by the name of U.S. Agency. This shop is located along Jalan Sultan Idris Shah in Ipoh, opposite D’ Eastern Hotel, which I pass by regularly but my interest was never piqued until now. Anyway, I ventured into the building, which at first glance, seemed to be an antique shop. But it’s definitely more than what it looks like from the outside.
The proprietor, Ipoh-born Mr. Govindasamy, who has been dealing in stamps and coins for some thirty years, and operating his business from this premises in the past twenty, was very accommodating and patiently answered all my questions about stamps and coins. Govin, as he is popularly known, is one of the few dealers of Malaysian stamps and coins in the country, concentrating on coins and notes from the days of Straits Settlements, Malaya, Japanese Occupation and Malaysia.
Started this hobby in his teenage years, this serious hobbyist has seen his passion take him to more than thirty countries over the years, either as an exhibitor, or even to organise exhibitions on old stamps, coins and dollar notes.
Govin also takes the trouble to visit schools to talk about stamp collecting, as he believes that youngsters do not have a good hobby these days. Currently, only Sam Tet and Yuk Choy secondary schools in Ipoh have stamp clubs.
Besides being an educational hobby, where there is a story behind every stamp or coin, collecting these also make a good investment as their value appreciate over time, provided they are kept in mint condition.
Serious collectors, for example, would invest in German-made chemical stamp albums in order to preserve the stamps, and handled with pincers. while coins are held by the rim, so as not to spoil them with the perspiration on our fingers. Govin told me that mint condition stamps would carry a better value than used ones, and of course, the value drops as the condition deteriorates.
As an expert, Govin also evaluates stamps and coins, though he doesn’t simply place a value on them, but refers to the latest catalogues released by the Philatelic Society of Malaysia and the Malaysia Numismatic Society. According to them, nowadays, Malaysians are getting more professional and they do look for stamps and coins that are in perfect condition. Best of all, they are willing to pay a good price for them.
Another service that Govin offers is to help collectors complete their collection if they have a missing piece or two in a stamp or coin set.
With this knowledge at hand, I am going to start hunting for that elusive Straits Settlements 50 cents coin with Queen Victoria on its face from 1889. The catalogue states that only 32,000 pieces were minted, and a UNC Grade coin with a “defect” can fetch up to RM50,000!
Come to think of it, looking for a defective coin from 1889 is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Perhaps, a 1971 10 cents coin is more realistic. It can fetch RM400 currently, the same market value for a RM1 bank note with a serial number of all 1s.
Add: 115, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm (Mon – Fri)
Add: Lower Ground Floor, Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya.
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm (Sat & Sun)
Tel: 012-5017775 (Mr. Govin)
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