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Published: Thursday December 12, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 12, 2013 MYT 2:20:34 PM

A sad story of history being sold

KOTA TINGGI: Artefacts and rare coins originating from the old Johor Sultanate are being openly sold on eBay and through runners hired by private antique collectors.

Checks by The Star revealed that rare animal-shaped currencies including those resembling crocodiles, tortoises, roosters, fish, frogs, crabs and others were being sold illegally.

The bids for these types of animal currency on eBay start from between US$59.90 (RM190.36) and US$1,374.99 (RM4,369.72) depending on the condition and age of the pieces themselves.

Glazed terracota vases originating from the Ming Dynasty displayed in a private collection here. These pots were found along the rivers in Kota Tinggi.
Precious items: Glazed terracotta vases originating from the Ming Dynasty on display. These pots were found in Kota Tinggi.

There are at least two main sellers auctioning off the items via eBay which include pieces found in the Kota Tinggi river here.

Along with the animal currency from Johor, the same person was also found selling similar currencies from Perak and other parts of the country.

Another Singapore-based collector was also found selling rare Johor-based hexagonal-shaped gold coins from the year 1527 to 1699 (the Johor Lama period) online.

The coins were classified according to their use during the reign of the various state rulers, including Sultan Ala’udin Riayat Shah, Sultan Abdullah Ma’ayat Shah, Sultan Abdul Jalil Shah III and Sultan Mahmud Shah II.

The bids for the coins stood at between US$28 (RM88.98) and US$2,500 (RM7,945).

Other than eBay, The Star also found that interest in purchasing rare coins, including animal-shaped currency, and pottery dating as far back as the 15th century was made known through various blogs and sites for antique enthusiasts.

While offer prices for the items were not posted on the blogs itself, buyers were encouraged to write e-mails to the sellers if they are interested.

Malaysian Nature Society Johor chairman Vincent Chow, who is also a history enthusiast, said that there was a network of runners used to buy artefacts for local and foreign private collectors.

“Runners would usually work with local fishermen or with antique shops to purchase these items as soon as they are found or dug up,” he said.

An antique shop owner, who declined to be named, said he usually kept selected rare items and only brought them out for special customers.

“I get these items, including old coins and precious pottery pieces, from my runners but if the authorities come to know about these items, they would definitely seize them and place them in museums,” he said.

He added that many people preferred to sell such items to private collectors and antique shops as they fetched a better price than that offered by a museum.

Related stories:

Learn from Kedah candi debacle, says Johor heritage foundation

Ancient treasures for sale on modern eBay

Foreigners buying hundreds of valuable Malacca relics

Tags / Keywords: Family & Community, artefacts, collectors, Johor lama, Kota Tinggi, black market


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