The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 16, April 17, 2022, Article 29


World Banknote Auctions President Dennis Hengeveld catalogued an interesting Thailand note for their upcoming sale 25. Here's the full entry. -Editor

  Siam 5 Ticals Proof with French Indo-China Back 1

Thailand / Siam, Banque de l'Indochine 1888 (ND 1898) P-S101p PMG Gem UNC 65 EPQ 5 Ticals (Proof with French Indo-China Back)

Iconic and extremely rare proof or trial for Siam, printed with a back plate meant for French Indo-China

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries various European Colonial powers attempted to gain access to the economy in various regions in Asia, including Thailand, then known as Siam. The number of foreign banks that were allowed to issue banknotes in Siam was extremely small, and any survivors are extremely rare and in demand today. The first foreign bank to issue banknotes in Siam was the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, which issued notes denominated in Ticals in the late 1880s from their office in Bangkok. In the next two decades these were supplemented by issues from the Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China and the Banque de l'Indo-Chine. This is a proof for the 5 Ticals (or Ticaux in French) of the latter bank and is part of an extremely limited group of notes from this branch that have survived to the present day. What makes the piece offered here particularly interesting is that while the front is clearly printed for Siam, the back is that of a French Indo-China issue, with vertical text in Chinese, compared to the issued note that has Thai and Chinese text in black.

Origins of this Piece

We have attempted to piece together the history of this piece to the best of our knowledge. According to a previous auction listing that included this trial it appears to have been originally part of a 5-piece set of Banque de l'Indochine specimens & trials from the Bangkok branch that in the early 1990s was purchased by a coin dealer from an undisclosed museum in Paris for $90,000. The existence of this type was made public in an article in the April 1999 issue of the Banknote Reporter in a brief article titled "Odd Siam Five-Tical note has different back text", noting that photos of that note were submitted by noted Thai numismatist Lee Shin Song of Bangkok. This is a different piece than the one in this auction, as the annotation is in a different position (we believe that the annotation of this second piece has since been removed, but it is identifiable by a patch of toning on the back). The note in this auction was then offered by R.M. Smythe in the Spring of 2008 as part of a 5-piece set with an estimate of $100,000-$125,000. The set failed to sell but was later sold privately. This note was then put into auction recently where our consignor acquired it, realizing the significance of this piece (in that sale this piece was listed as an ordinary proof). The existence of another piece indicates that it was not an error, but perhaps a trial piece deliberately produced before the back plate was finished.

  Siam 5 Ticals Proof with French Indo-China Back 2

Rarity of Siam Branch Banque de l'Indo-Chine banknotes

This particular example is the only such proof certified by PMG (the PMG population report lists just additional specimen, but it is in circulated grade) and we know that the first note issued (serial number 1 from the first block) was saved, but that piece is in the Bank of Thailand Museum Collection and possibly unique as an issued note. None of the higher denominations (the Pick catalog lists a 20 Ticals, 80 Ticals and 100 Ticals) have been offered in recent memory either in any format, and none appear in the PMG population report. From our research it appears that there are about a dozen pieces from the Bangkok branch of the Banque de l'Indo-Chine in existence across all denominations, including pieces in museum collections.

The Bangkok branch of the Banque de l'Indo-Chine opened on February 22, 1897 and was the first branch of the bank to operate outside of the French Colonies. The Banque de l'Indo-Chine had been founded in 1875 and initially concentrated its operations in French Indo-China (present-day Viet Nam), although it would later expand to other French Colonies, including French India, New Caledonia, Tahiti and French Africa. Note-issuing privileges were extended to all of these regions and notes issued by the bank are often seen today. However, notes from both the Thailand and China branches of the bank are seldom seen today in any format. Most Banque de l'Indo-Chine notes were printed in Paris at a central location, so it is possible that (whether purposefully or note) plates for different colonies were mixed.

This proof or trial piece (in coin terms it would perhaps be identified as a pattern, but that term is typically not used to identify trial banknotes) its present state of preservation is exceptional. Official annotations are noted, but these help identifying this piece, as the note lacks serial numbers or a date. A fascinating and extremely rare piece that is worthy of inclusion in any serious French colonial paper money collection.

Pick-S101s var. (for Siam). Listed in French Southeast Asia Coins & Currency by Howard A. Daniel III (page 212). Not listed in Kolsky. PMG mentions "Printer's Annotations".

To read the complete lot description, see:
Thailand / Siam, Banque de l'Indochine 1888 (ND 1898) P-S101p PMG Gem UNC 65 EPQ 5 Ticals (Proof with French Indo-China Back) (

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