1. The Sitthikarn Mint – The first mint in Thailand (1860-1875)
The first mint in Thailand was established during the reign of King Rama IV, a period when Thailand was developing and modernizing as a result of the expansion of trade and the economy.
In 1858, King Rama IV ordered the establishment of the Mint and bestowed on it the name of Sitthikarn Mint. It was situated in the premises of the pod duang factory, in front of the Royal Treasury, on the east, around the corner from Suwanboriban Gate. It was a two-storey brick and mortar building in the Western architectural style, with the entrance on the second floor in the front of the building.
Five denominations of coins were the first to be produced, bearing the royal crown inside the sacred wheel Chakra. They were issued on September 17, 1860s: 1 baht, half baht, 1 salung, 1fuang, and half fuang. These were used alongside pod duang (bullet money) although the production of pod duang was discontinued.
2. The Sitthikarn Mint during the reign of King Rama V (1875-1902)
During that period, the economy of Thailand was flourishing and foreign trade was expanding. In these circumstance, the inability to produce coins in sufficient numbers created problems. Moreover, the minting machine that had been used up to that time fell into a state of disrepair. As a result, King Rama V issued an order to purchase a new steam-operated minting machine with a higher manufacturing capacity as well as to build a the second Sitthikarn Mint to replace the older, smaller mint in order to meet the increasing demand for coins. In 1875, this Sitthikarn Mint, which was the second mint in Thailand, was situated on the west side of the Suwan Boribal Gate, opposite the old mint inside the Grand Palace. It was a two-storey brick andmortar rectangular building in the Western architectural style (Wat Phra Keo Museum at present).
The Mint had its royal inauguration on May 31, 1876, with the issue of the new coins bearing the royal portrait and the national emblem (coat-of-arms) in denominations of one baht, one salung, and one fuang. This was the first set of Thai coins with the royal portrait of the ruling monarch on the front, following the pattern used internationally. This practice was, from that period on, adopted as the tradition in Thailand.
3. The Royal Mint Sitthikarn along Klong Lod (Lod Canal) —(1902-1972)
Because of the increase in trade advancement in Thailand, the demand for coins increased as well, while the condition of the steam-operated minting machine in use deteriorated after 25 years of use. As a result, King Rama V ordered the building of the new Sitthikarn Mint on the premises of the royal residences of six members of the royal family, a place called Sapan Siew Palace, Chao Fah Road, north of Sanam Luang. It was a two-storey brick and mortar building in the Western architectural style. It has now been registered by the Fine Arts Department as an archeological site and is called The National Gallery, Bangkok.
The official opening of the third mint was held on February 4, 1902. The status of the mint was elevated to the The Royal Mint Sitthikarn, with a new electric minting machine with a normal capacity of approximately 80,000-100,000 coins per day. The King ordered the discontinuation of the use of pod duang by 31 July 245, to be entirely replaced by coins. After the price of silver and copper soared, tin was used as a substitute. The royal coins of this reign were tin coins bearing the Garuda symbol.
With the enactment of the Gold Standard Act RS 127 (B.E.2451, A.D.1908), the King ordered the manufacture of 1,036,691 one-baht coins bearing the royal portrait–airavata (the three-headed white elephant) by Monnaie de Paris, the French Mint. However, the end of this reign arrived before these coins were put into use. The airavata symbol, however, remained the national emblem until the end of the reign of King Rama VI.
During the reign of King Rama VI, Thailand was affected by an economic crisis caused by the First World War. The price of the metals used for the production of coins increased. As a result, the silver component of the coins had to be reduced and one-baht banknotes were issued to be used instead of coins.
During the reign of King Rama VII, there was an attempt to solve the economic problems of the country. The King issued an order to reduce the status of the Royal Mint Sitthikarn to that of minting factory, under the supervision of the Royal Thai Opium Department. The coins used during this reign were five-satang nickel coins and one-satang copper coins imported from abroad in order to reduce the expense of coin production. The production of coins was halted for the next six years. The fifty-satang silver coins and the twenty-five-satang coins bearing the royal portrait—the Royal Elephant on a Pedestal—were the royal coins used during this reign.
In 1933, the King ordered the opening of a new mint to produce the country’s own coins; it was known as the Thai Mint Division and came under the supervision of the Royal Treasury Department. Later, its status was elevated to that of the Thai Mint Division under the supervision of the Treasury Department, Ministry of Finance.
During the reign of His Majesty King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII), again, Thailand was faced with an economic downturn when the Second World War broke out in 1939. The government tried to solve the problem of having an insufficient number of coins in circulation, which was due to the high price of goods by smelting the two-salung silver coins in the treasury and producing silver coins with denominations of 20 satang, 10 satang, and 5 satang instead of ordering these coins from abroad. This was the first time that silver was used to produce coins for common circulation. Later, when the price of silver and copper soared, tin was used instead to produce coins and medals such as medals with the royal portrait—airavata—in the reign of King Rama VI, silver coins with the royal portrait of King Rama VII, and medals with the royal portrait of King Rama VIII as an adult.
4. The Royal Thai Mint Pradiphat (1972-2001)
In 1968, during the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in order to increase manufacturing capacity in order to meet the increasing demand a new mint, the fourth in Thai history, was built near Pradiphat Road. This was because the old mint (Chao Fah Road) was limited in size and could not be expanded to accommodate the new model machines needed to meet the higher demand for coins caused by economic growth.
The fourth mint is situated on a plot of around 11 rai. The premises are large enough to accommodate a number of new model machines. The mint was completed and began operations on 25 August 1972, with the capacity to produce two million coins per day or 750 million coins per year. The pattern on the reverse of the coins has been changed many times in order to convey a more precise meaning or to make the set of coins more systematic, but all versions have consistently conveyed the idea of nation, religion, and king. For example, the obverse of every denomination of coin bears the royal portrait of King Rama IX, signifying the monarchy, with the word “Thailand” (in Thai), signifying the nation, and with important religious archeological sites unique to the nation as a symbol of the institution of religion. These new models of coin have been produced and circulated regularly on a yearly basis, with a change of date on the coins to indicate the year of production.
A major change in the design of the coins took place in 1986 when the government decided to manufacture a new set of coins of every denomination with improvements in terms of both size and design. Moreover, the coins in circulation with nine denominations ranging from 1 satang to 10 baht were issued for the first time. At present, there are still nine denominations of coins in circulation, namely 10 baht, 5 baht, 2 baht, 1 baht, 50 satang, 25 satang, 10 satang, 5 satang, and 1 satang.
During the current reign, commemorative coins, used to memorialise and record important events, as if history were recorded on coins, were produced for the first time in 1961 when His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen returned to Thailand after a royal state visit to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and other European countries, improving the reputation and image of the country.
Commemorative proof coins were manufactured for the first time in 1982, which can be regarded as another important development for the Royal Thai Mint. Apart from the production of the commemorative coins to honour His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, and the Royal Family, coins have also been produced to commemorate projects carried out by the government in conjunction with foreign institutions such as the production of a commemorative coin for the International Children’s Year in 1982 and commemorative coins for Conservation of Nature and Wildlife in 1997.
5. The Royal Thai Mint Rangsit (2002-present)
Rapid technological progress and economic growth have resulted in increases in international trade and in an increased turnover in the circulation of coins. This, in turn, has led to an increase in demand for coins in country. Because of this, an increase in capacity for production of coins was needed to meet the demand for coins. Renovation of the mint in order to install more modern machines with an expected capacity of production of 1,000 million coins per year was considered. However, since the old Royal Thai Mint on Pradiphat Road was located in a residential area and the size of the plot was limited, the mint could not be expanded. Moreover, pollution caused by the production process affected the community living near the mint.
Because of this, the government decided to move the Royal Thai Mint to a suburban area with more spacious premises and further from residential areas in order to decrease the problems of pollution resulting from the production process, as well as to be able accommodate increased demand for production capacity in the future. In addition, this new mint has received modern, high-quality equipment so that it can produce enough coins to meet present demand as well as to be able to expand to meet future increases in demand as the economy grows. The new Royal Thai Mint is located at the 34-35 Kilometer Marker, Phaholyothin Road, Khlong Nueng Subdistrict, Khlong Luang District, Pathum Thani, with premises of approximately 128 rai. Construction of the building and installation of the equipment were completed in 2001. The Treasury Department moved the Royal Thai Mint from Pradiphat to Rangsit in November, 2001, and it has been in full operation since January, 2002.
His Majesty the King asked Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to inaugurate the Royal Thai Mint Rangsit on his behalf on 2 July, 2003.