The First Post GST Banknote & Coin Auction by MNP Auctioneers

MNP Auctioneers 14 Jun 2015 Catalog
Fig 1 : Catalog Cover Page
This has been an eventful year when it comes to banknote and coin auctions in Malaysia. We've had several high profile public auctions from Trigometric and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in the earlier part of the year but that was BEFORE the "Goods & Services Tax" or GST came into effect on 1 April 2015. MNP Auctioneers auction series 2/2015 will be the FIRST public auction of collectibles after the GST and collectors, dealers and market watchers are all waiting to see what is going to happen.

The results of public auctions is considered a barometer of sorts of the strength of the local market and a reasonably good indicator of what's hot and what's not.  The good news is that GST is imposed ONLY on the buyer premium, not the hammer price of the lot. So if you add 6% on top of the 15% buyers' premium, the effective rate is 15.9%. Not too bad actually and I do not think this will cause a hold back on the part of the bidders.

For MNP Auctioneers, this will be their first public auction held in Kuala Lumpur. They were contracted by Bank Negara Malaysia to run the Central Bank's auctions, so that would be considered BNM's auction rather than MNP's own. Their first for 2015 was held in Penang on 11 January 2015, with 50 lots of coins and 60 lots of banknotes. Base on the realized prices from MNP, 53 items were sold out of 110. Of that 53, 18 lots were coins and 35 lots were banknotes, that's a hit ratio of 36% and 58.3% respectively, overall hit ratio was 48%. We're waiting to see how the one in Kuala Lumpur will go. If the total number of collectors in the capital city of Malaysia is anything to go by, we can expect a bigger turn out at this event.

MNP Auctioneers 14 Jun 2015 - Istana Hotel
Fig. 2  Registration counters all ready at 9:30am
There is an online version of the auction catalog here. The venue of the auction is at the Istana Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, located right in the center of the city's "Golden Triangle". The hotel has been around for some 20+ years now but the place is well maintained. Upon my arrival at 9:30am, I was greeted with pretty well organized registration counters and staff are all ready serve the guests. There was no queue at all, registration took less than 5 minutes. A quick check of the auction room reveal that there are 120 seats in place facing a large stage with the auctioneer's podium on the left side.

Fig 3. Auction Room that seats 120.

The crowd was just beginning to trickle in after 10:00am. Most of the usual suspects arrived at about 10:15am. There were a lot of meet and greets, collectors catching up with one another in the hall. It was a rainy and cold morning and perhaps people decide to get out of bed a little bit later! By 10:30am, the seats are about 50% filled.

Fig 4 :  The usual suspects .... 
Fig 5. The investor, the dealer and the collector.

Fig 6 All set and ready to go at 10:30am (Panoramic View)

The auction started after some introduction and a quick review of the terms and conditions. The first 59 lots were all foreign country banknotes, lots 1 and 2 was realized at RM500 and RM300 respectively. By the time the first 19 lots were done, 50% of the lots were sold, which was quite OK compared to the previous auction.

But as the auction continued, the response became more subdued, despite the hall being reasonably packed. By the time we reached Lot 69, which  was a featured lot - a Japanese Invasion Money (JIM) $100 with a calendar overprint, reserve price at RM6,000; there were no bids at all. And Lot 70, also a featured lot, a $1000 JIM with calendar overprint PMG63 EPQ at RM6,000 - no bids as well.  [* Price listed here are WITHOUT Buyer's Premium and GST, the effective rate will be 15.9%]

Fig 7 : Lot 69 @ RM6,000- No bids

Fig 8 : Lot 70 @ RM6,000 - No bids.

Other featured lots were 84 and 86, both also did not receive any bids. Lot 85 however did garner some attention because of the lot starting price of RM500 and was promptly bidded up to RM2,600. One may conclude that the reserve price of the lots in this auction may be set a bit too high and the potential buyers hardly have any room to maneuver.

Fig 9 : Lot 84 @ RM8,000 (US$2,000) - No bids

Fig 10 : Lot 85 @ RM500, winning bid at RM2,600.

Fig 11 : Lot 86 @ RM4,500 - No bids

Lots 88 and 89 were the famous water buffalo notes from 1961 - no bids were received and the price was at an astronomical RM7,500 and RM15,000 respectively. For your information, according to KN Boon's book, the most expensive one in UNC is only RM9,000.

Fig 12 : Lot 98 @ RM7,500. No bids. 

Fig 13. Lot 99 @ RM15,000, no bids, no surprises! 

Let's jump straight to the featured lots of the day - the 2 most expensive items on the cover page of the auction catalog - Lots 142 and 176. There were no bids for 142 and 176 received several bids and settled at RM20,000.

Fig 14 : Lot 142 - No bidders. 

Fig 15 : Lot 176 @ RM18,000, done at RM20,000 (RM23,180 with BP and GST)

Interestingly enough, the Frank Goon book @ Lot 191 was priced at RM900 (RM1,043 with BP & GST) and someone actually went for it. As the morning session drew to a close at Lot 209, the total number of lots with bidders is far less than 50%, base on UNCONFIRMED notes taken by the bidders on the floor.

It is also notable that there were some Third Series 1 Ringgit notes with solid numbers were up for grabs (Lots 115 to 134) but the interest was no where near that of BNM auctions. These were mainly PMG graded 64 and UNC lots priced between RM800 to RM4,000. Only one piece was sold at RM3,000 and it was Lot 124 with serial number 1000000, PMG 64.

The afternoon session started at 2:00 pm and again, there were very few bids from lots 210 to 242. One item worth mentioning the 1986 20 Ringgit Lot 256 - a replacement note graded by PMG at 64 at RM1,800; there were NO BIDDERS for this one also. About one year ago, this was a highly sought after item.

Fig 14 : Afternoon session @ 2:00 pm
By then I had to leave for another appointment and have not the chance to witness the auction until its conclusion. If the earlier sessions is any indication of the interest from the floor, it doesn't look very promising.


Overall the auction event itself was quite well organized. The turnout, while not spectacular, was reasonably good. The burning question here is why there were much fewer bids compare to the last auction?

After doing a quick round of checks during break times, it seems that there is a strong consensus on the floor that the reserve price was too high. There were many above average items up on the block but collectors were not ready to offer the prices that the sellers were asking.

While some said that the GST effect is still lingering and consumers are still holding back, despite more than 2 months had passed since the GST came into effect. But I seriously doubt that is the case.

Having a good reach to the right set of audiences is also a factor at play. Now if we compare this auction with other recent ones - this one does not have real time Internet bidding facilities, which can contribute significant interest in the items on the block and therefore more bids. They do have absentee bids coming in but it was not significant.

In contrast Trigometric's auction in March (pre-GST) made good use of the Internet reach via the, which brought in some good bids for their lots. And this is not too difficult to do, given that many of the bigger auction houses e.g. Mavin and Monetarium do use as their Internet platform.

In addition, MNP Auctioneers can do better with more promotion and awareness campaigns for this event, especially on social media. Surprisingly there were hardly ANY promotion or posting about this event on any of the collector group pages on Facebook. There are several such groups with more than 20,000 members, we're talking about groups base in Malaysia, and their influence cannot be under estimated. Most collectors are members of several such active groups and NOT reaching out to them via such a cost effective platform is simply baffling. Trigometric on the other hand, didn't have to do a lot of promotion simply because they have been in the collectibles industry for so long and every collector knows what they do.

But all it not lost; it is not all gloom and doom.  Of all the lots of 400 odd items, the ones that really shine for the day were the RUBBER COUPONS! Lots 34 to 41 were all done at prices significantly higher than their reserve price.

Is this a sign of things to come ? Perhaps, given that rumours have been circulating for the past several months that a book on rubber coupons by a prominent local numismatic author will be out very soon, complete with updated prices. So now everyone is rushing to accumulate stock ..... but at what price? That's the million dollar question.

Guess we'll have to wait and see. Until then, HAPPY COLLECTING !!

Fig 15 : Lot 34 went for RM1,000 (RM1,159 with Buyer's Premium)

P.S. I did a bit of bidding myself and came home with this nice little piece :
Fig 14 : Lot 2 French Guiana 1 Dollar 1938


  1. MNP should advertise this event through social media, not many people know of this event.

    Even famous auction House Mavin have their cataloque ready 6-7 weeks before their auction.

    The recent hike in solid numbers price has prompted every Tom Dick Harry and even Mary to sell their collections.

    Anyway I hope number 3 will be more successful !

  2. Thanks for your comment. This is our view as well.

    As mentioned in the blog, there are several large FB groups with membership exceed 20,000, which makes it and ideal platform to share information, at virtually ZERO cost.