Highlights of the 2015 Singapore International Coin Fair

Singapore Coin Fair 2015
For the numismatist and collector residing in the South East Asian region, the annual Singapore International Coin Fair (SICF) is not just another show to attend, it's PILGRIMAGE ! Held at the prestigious Sands Expo & Convention Center for the past several years, this is by far the biggest numismatic event in this region. In the 2014 event, there were more than 10,000 visitors.

This year however, the attendance was noticeably lower, primarily because of the passing of Singapore's founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew earlier in that same week; on 23 March. So the event was understandably subdued as the nation mourned the passing of one of the greatest leader the world has ever seen. A man who took Singapore from a third world country to a developed nation in just one generation, a feat that has never been done before and will probably never be equaled. Singapore is where it is today because of Mr. Lee. Rest in peace Mr. Lee !

Fig 1. Remembering Mr. Lee Kuan Yew 
For the uninitiated, the show has always been free of charge, which is a good thing. It has been held in Hall A Level 1 for the past few years. The show is big, with close too 100 booths, big and small selling and promoting numismatics items and accessories - silver coins, banknotes, coins, coin capsules, sleeves, coin capsules, grading services and even banknote cleaning solutions! Panda America is the anchor tenant; mints from Austria and Singapore take up larger booths. Grading companies like PCGS, NGC, PNG and ICG were also present. Almost all the big auction houses from Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong are there - Mavin, Monetarium, Eusree, Stack's Bowers and Spink. Unfortunately there were no auction houses from Malaysia! 

For the past few years, I have always made a day trip to Singapore i.e. I fly from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in the morning and get home that same evening. But this time around, I thought I'd stay for a few days and get to know the place better. 

Singapore Coin Fair 2015
Fig. 2 SICF 2015 Entrance

Marina Bay Sands Expo Center  - Hall A Entrance
Fig. 3 Hall A Entrance

Fig 4. Registration Counter (as at 8:30am Friday)

Fig 5 : Floor Layout with close to 100 booths, big and small.

Fig 6. Early morning set up. Note the high ceiling of the hall, makes the place feel grand.

Fig. 7 Getting ready for the first day of show

Fig 8 : Meeting area
There are many dealers on the floor, most of them occupying 6 feet by 3 feet tables. About 70% of the dealers are from Singapore and Malaysia. There are a few interesting dealers from the United States and Europe.

Fig 9. Coin dealer from the USA, Adam Biagi.
Adam has been quite well known in this region for the past 2 years - he is the guy who brought in many excellent and rare pieces of Malaya KGVI and QE2 coins to the local market. Adam used to be a submariner in the US Navy and he was posted in Singapore at one stage of his career, which explains his familiarity with this region.

Larry on the other hand is a world banknote seller who travel to shows all over the world. In fact I can't recall any show that he does not go to! This is one seasoned globe trotter with loads of good stuff.

Fig 10. Banknote dealer, Larry, also from the USA.

These are two very interesting gentlemen from Switzerland, meet Dr. Jonas and Petr Kovaljov. Yes, the younger one is Dr. Jonas, and guess what, he has a PhD in numismatics! These guys are unique in the sea of dealers in the show. Why? They deal in ancient coins. Check out their stuff - the ancient coins are something else all together. I have always been curious about ancient European coins and this is the very first time I have held a coin that is more than 2,000 years old in my hand! I don't think there are any older coins at the floor. The strike and the art is so 3D and they make modern coins look 2D, flat and bland. Take a look :

Dr. Jonas, Petr Kovaljov from Kunker, Switzerland
Fig 11. Meet Dr. Jonas and Petr Kovaljov of Kunker, from Switzerland
2000 year old coins is SICF 2015
Fig 12. Ancient coins from Europe

Fig 13. Obverse of a Greek coin from 400BC, Totally 3D, absolutely beautiful isn't it? It's really heavy! 

Fig 14. The reverse - the iconic Athens Owl. This is a real art piece and this is worth US$15,000 by the way. 
The best part of the show for a numismatist and collector is the bargain hunting !! Where else can you find 100 dealers in 1 place. So I did my share of treasure hunting and picked up some very nice pieces. Here's one of the many pieces I picked up :

France 5000 Francs 1947, p103, About Uncirculated.
Fig 15.  France 5000 Francs 1947, p103, About Uncirculated. A
Always wanted to own this & very difficult to find in this condition.

The show is also a good place to meet old friends and fellow collectors. I bumped into Japanese Invasion Money (JIM) collector, author and expert Mr. Wong Hon Sum, fellow numismatist Mr. Dickson Niew and Singaporean collector Mr. Lawrence Chew at the show.

Fig 18. Saturday crowd, late morning.

Fig 19. Saturday afternoon

Fig 20. Saturday afternoon.

Fig 21. Even the East India Company now produces silver, gold coins and publish numismatic books! 

Fig 22. Lots of interesting Malaysian stuff but they come with a rather hefty price tag.
This rather unique piece is going for SGD14,500. 

Fig 23. Many collectors express shock when informed that this stack of first series 5 Ringgit is priced at SGD30,000.

It was an interesting 3 days at the show and although I have attended the show for the past several years, there is always something new to learn and new people to meet. Overall it has been a good one for me and I look forward to SICF 2016!


  1. Interesting article with good information.
    l am looking forward to meet you too in the next Singapore International Coin Fair in2016.

  2. Thank Dickson. I look forward to the next one. There were rumors that there is not going to be a 2016 event but I now hear that it is confirmed that there will be a SICF 2016.