The History Of Thai Currency - From Ancient Beads To Modern Baht
By Eric Lim, Thu Dec 8th
The history of Thailand traces the evolution of themedium of exchange used in Thailand prior to the 1st century.This dates from the days of barter trade, ancient beads andmoney in various shapes and sizes till the in moderntimes.
Ancient beads, seeds, bracelets and pebbles used as amedium of exchange in the early days around 200 300 BC,have been discovered in Thailand, including old Roman coppercoins dating back to 270 BC!
During the 1st 7th centuries, metallic coins of theFunan Kingdom in Indochina made their appearance inThailand, followed by Dvaravati coins in the 7th 11thcenturies. This was followed by a period in the history of Thaicurrency when money in different shapes and sizes from variousplaces were in use.
Sandal wood flower coins or Dok Jan coins from the SriVijaya Kingdom in SE Asia were introduced in trade in theregion in the 8th 13th centuries. Cowrie shells and bakedclay coins were also used from the pre- Sukhothai erauntil the reign of King Rama IV, when they were dropped fromcirculation.
From the 14th 19th centuries, coins from theLanna Kingdom in the northern Thailand embossed withvarious designs were also in circulation. Around the sameperiod, 15th 19th centuries, Lanchang, the kingdom innortheastern Thailand introduced silver and copper piecesin long and narrow boat shapes.
In the history of Thai currency, the money that was mostenduring was Pot Duang or bullet money. This firstappeared during the Sukhothai era, 13th 14th centuries.Pot Duang money were hand-made coins. Metal strips were bent andfolded into spheres very much like a bullet, thus the name,bullet money.
Bullet money was in circulation for 600 years from the Sukhothaiera to Rattanakosin until its withdrawal from circulation in1904 during the reign of King Rama V.
profound changes in the history of Thai currencyoccurred during the Rattankosin era
in the reigns of KingRama IV and King Rama V. Standardized factory minted coinsand printed bank notes
were officially issued.
During the reign of King Rama IV, when foreign trade anddiplomatic relations expanded, the paper money, in the form ofroyal promissory notes, was issued in 1853. These were followedby bank notes issued by the foreign to facilitate tradeclearance.
In 1857, Queen Victoria of Britain presented Thailand with thefirst minting machine and the minting of the first Thai silvercoins commenced. In 1858, a minting machine purchased fromBritain and the Royal Mint was set up in the Grand Palace andthe minting of coins went ahead full steam.
In the reign of King Rama IV, money was denominated in satang,tho, phi, padueng and baht.
During the reign of King Rama V, or King Chulalongkorn, coinagewas streamlined. The numerous denominations were reduced to onlytwo, satang and baht, based on the metric system, whichremain till this day. Bank notes issued were in denominations of1, 5, 10, 40,80, 100, 400 and 800 baht.
Today, the denominations have been streamlined to 25, 50 satangcoins, 1, 5, 10 baht coins and 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 bahtnotes.
The history of Thai goes back more than 1,000 years,evolving from ancient beads and bracelets to the modern bahtthat's in current use.
The ancient beads, bullet money and old currencies can be viewedat the Bank of Thailand Museum in Bang Khun Phrom Palacewithin the premises of the Central Bank of Thailand.
About the author: This article first appeared in Tour BangkokLegacies, a historical travel site on people, places andevents that shaped the landscape of Bangkok. The author, EricLim, is a free-lance writer who lives in Bangkok Thailand.
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