SPINK Auction of Banknotes, Bonds & Shares, Coins and Medals of SEA 16 Aug 2015 : PART 1


Image Courtesy of Spink & Sons
Spink is back, to Singapore that is, after a 6 year hiatus. Their last auction here was way back on 4 July 2009. Reason? They couldn't find enough good materials. According to Barnaby Faull, Director of Banknotes at Spink, there are many collectors with good stuff in this region but the trouble is, no one feels like selling! It takes a lot of coaxing and persuading, which is what Spink is exceptionally good at, the contents of the auction catalog is evidence of Spink's competitive advantage and track record.

Six years is a long time to wait but the timing couldn't be better - it is held in conjunction with Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence, fondly referred to as SG50. The lion city had just celebrated it's 50th national day the week before on 8 August 2015, amidst much pomp and circumstance.

SPINK's Auction in Singapore is no different, in numismatic terms at least - the auction of "Banknotes, Bonds & Shares, Coins and Medals of South East Asia" at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center is the one of the biggest in terms of value in this region so far this year.

Spink Catalog Cover
In contrast, Malaysia's biggest so far is KN Boon's auction back in March, which stood at 338 lots. Spink's auction also include other items like medals and medallions, here's the quick breakdown : 
  • 500 lots of banknotes (82.5%)
  • 20 lots of bonds & shares (3.3%)
  • 83 lots of coins (13.5%) and 
  • 3 lots of medals (0.5%)
Banknotes and coins takes up the LIONS' share - 96% of the total, pun intended. 

Spink Promotional Video

In addition to the large number of items on the auction block, Spink has the reputation of bringing very rare and unseen items to the market, so there is much anticipation for this event since word got out earlier this year. Collectors and numismatist from the entire region has come to witness this event, not to mention many others are joining online via Internet bidding sites like saleroom.com and Spink's own online bidding facilities. 

The auction catalog was released about a month before the event, a soft copy version in Acrobat PDF form were also made available at the Spink website. Some of the highlights (all banknote images courtesy of Spink) :

Lot 76 :Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, Hong Kong, colour trial $10, 1 December 1911
Fig 1 :Lot 76 :Color Trial of Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China $10, Hong Kong, 1 December 1911
[ Image courtesy of Spink ]

Lot 80: Mercantile Bank of India Limited, Hong Kong, colour trial $25, Hong Kong, ND (1912) [ Image courtesy of Spink ]
Fig 2. Lot 80: Mercantile Bank of India Limited, Hong Kong, colour trial $25, Hong Kong, ND (1912)[ Image courtesy of Spink ]

Fig 3. Lot 128 Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya, colour trial $50, ND (1942) [ Image courtesy of Spink ]
Fig 3. Lot 128 Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya, colour trial $50, ND (1942)
[ Image courtesy of Spink ]
Fig 4 : Sungai Buloh Leprosarium notes [ Image courtesy of Spink ]
Fig 4 : Sungai Buloh Leprosarium 10 cent notes, UNC!
[ Image courtesy of Spink ]

Fig 5 : Sungai Buloh Leprosarium 1 Dollar notes, UNC!   [ Image courtesy of Spink ]
Fig 5 : Sungai Buloh Leprosarium 1 Dollar notes, UNC!  [ Image courtesy of Spink ]
There are banknotes of many countries listed, they are arranged in the alphabetical order of country names, starting with Australia. For collectors, enthusiasts and numismatist of the South East Asian region there is a select few categories that are keenly watched and sought after, totaling 335 lots, they include the following (we will discuss more about them in Part 2 of this blog posting) : 
  • British North Borneo (Lots 12 - 24)  [13]
  • Malaya, 1940 to 1945, KGVI (Lots 111-142) [32]
  • Malaya & British Borneo, 1953 to 1966, QEII (Lots 143-158) [16]
  • Malaya Rubber Coupons (Lot 163 - 170) [8]
  • Malaysia (Lots 172 - 248) [78]
  • Sungai Buloh Leprosarium (Lots 249-252) [4]
  • Sarawak (Lots 267 - 299) [33]
  • Singapore (Lots 300-401) [104]
  • Straits Settlements (Lots 402-451) [51]
The auction was scheduled to start at 2:00pm on Sunday 16 August 2015 at the Heliconia Ballroom at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Lot viewing opened the day before, on 15th Aug from 9:00am to 9:00pm.

As usual, registration is required to bid, one only has to submit the identity card and credit card, no deposit required. The process took less than 3 minutes. Buyers' Premium is at 20% of hammer price. If you are using a non-Spink internet bidding service that's an additional 3% and Goods and Services Tax (GST) is applicable. There is additional charge if you pay by credit card. 

Spink Auction Singapore 16 Aug - Viewing room
Fig 6. Entrance to the auction lot viewing room.
Spink Auction Singapore 16 Aug - Viewing room interior
Fig 7. Auction lot viewing room.

The auction room seats 60 and there were some additional chairs along each side of the room as well, so the total seats is about 80. As expected, the room was packed and there were some 30 to 40 persons standing at the back of the room. So the estimated total attendees is about 130 to 140. 

Fig 8. Packed corridor at the entrance to the auction room,

Fig 9. Packed corridor at the entrance to the auction room

Spink Auction Singapore 16 Aug - Auction room
Fig 10 : Getting ready to start, with Spink's Andrew Pattison at the podium.

Spink Auction Singapore 16 Aug - Auction room
Fig 11. A very packed room, filled with anticipation and excitement. 

Fig 12 : The bidding paddle and catalog. The iPad catalog is lighter than the print version! 

Spink Auction Singapore 16 Aug - Auction room panoramic view
Fig 13. A panoramic view of the auction room at 2:35pm 16 Aug 2015, all ready to go! 
We arrived 30 minutes before auction start and were informed that the previous auction was running a bit late and the expected start time would be about 2:30pm. After a brief wait, the auction finally began at 2:40pm.  

By 3:45pm, we were at lot 114, which is about 20% done, there were many bids coming in via the Internet and competing fiercely with the on site bidders. At this pace, my prediction was that is will finish by about 8:30pm. I was scheduled to leave Singapore by 8pm and at 6pm, the auction was still on going, I had no choice but to leave and miss part of the action. I was later informed by friends and further confirmed with a Spink auction administrator that it finished at 9:00pm! That's 7 hours!

Of the 615 lots, only 164 lots were unsold, that's a hit ratio of 73%, which is superb by any standard. 
Base on the offical realized prices, the total sales without Buyers' Premium was SGD1,924,280 or USD1,366,701, which makes it about MYR5,605,303. If you add on the BP, it will be SGD2,309,136 / USD1,639,766 / MYR6,726,363. 

Now if you compare these numbers with the 2009 auction sales with BP at USD1,186,964, that's a 38% improvement! 

Which is nothing short of EXCELLENT!

Next .... Part 2 will cover the highlights and analysis of the realized prices base on lot categories.

NOTE :  The Frank Goon book launch will be covered in a separate blog posting.




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