SARAN SINGH. Numismatist / Author. (I)

Although Mr.Saran Singh and I have known each other not more than a year but his unreserved dedication to his cause left a profound impression on me.I was introduced to him by Mr.Tony Au and Mr.Tan Tai Seng to help him to categorise his collections of error coins.On my second visit to his home on 15th August 2010,I took the opportunity to ask him to autograph "THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF THE COINS  OF MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE AND BRUNEI 1400-1967."He wrote,"To Dickson Niew,Wishing you many happy years in Numismatics".

Few weeks ago,upon requests by some coin collectors from my Blog,they wanted to know more about Mr.Saran Singh.AMN,PNM,FRNS,AMP.,his complete set of books and articles that published by him.

I called him and prompted him to publish on my Blog on the subject,of which he expressed a keen interest.

On 13th.July 2011,he called me and  told me he needs more times to gather all materials.On 23th July 2011, I went to his house to collect his "Success Story".

( @ SARAN SINGH SIDHU )  -  Numismatist / Author

Saran Singh was born on 10th March 194 in Kuala Lumpur
. He was educated at St.  Gabriel’s School, an Anglican Missionary School in Kuala Lumpur.  He joined the Ministry of Defence in April 1964 and retired in March 1992 after 28 years of service. During his youth, Saran was affectionately called Sukhrajan Singh, a name that is more familiar to his childhood friends. Saran’s father, the late Dhan Singh (1886 – 1954) came from village Dalla, Tehsil Jagraon, District Ludhiana in the Malwa region of Punjab. His mother, the late Gurdial Kaur (1910 – 1989) was from the village Dabri Khana (renamed Gobindgarh) near Jaito in Faridkot, Punjab.

 Numismatist / Author

On 1st January 1967, Saran Singh married Amarjit Kaur Grewal (daughter of the late Najer Singh Grewal (1918 – 1982) village (Ratan) Lekho Gedowal, Ludhiana and the late Dalip Kaur (1922 – 1978) village Dhal Majra, Ludhiana) at the Gurdwara Sahib Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. By God’s grace, he has been blessed with five children, Dalwinder Singh Sidhu, the late Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Kiranjit Kaur Sidhu, Selinderjit Kaur Sidhu and Sharen Kaur Sidhu.

Saran entered the field of Numismatics in 1969 at a time when this hobby was in its infancy in Malaysia. He spent many years doing extensive research on the currency of the Straits Settlements, Sarawak, British North Borneo (Sabah), Malaya, Singapore Merchant Tokens, the native tin and gold coinage of the Malay States (Bidor, Tampang, Animal currency, Keping, Pitis, Katun, Tra, Mas, Kupang and Jokoh etc.), the tin/lead coinage of the Sultanate of Brunei, the currency notes of the private banks in the Straits Settlements and lastly, the Sikh coins of the Punjab (1711 – 1849). Numerous articles and various books on the coinage of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei by Saran were published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society over the years.

Saran’s other major interests also include photography, collecting baby feeding bottles in glass and humorous postcards.

On 23rd June 1979, Saran Singh was awarded the Ahli Mangku Negara (A.M.N.) (Member of the Most Distinguished Order of the Defender of the Realm) by His Majesty D.Y.M.M., S.P.B. Yang Di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, the Seventh Paramount Ruler of Malaysia, on the occasion of His Majesty’s birthday.

In 1979, Saran was also made a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society, London. On 3rd December 1989, Saran was bestowed with the P.N.M. (Pakar Numismatik Malaysia) by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in recognition of his contributions to Malaysian Numismatics.

On 9th June 2007, Saran was awarded the Ahli Mahkota Perak (A.M.P.) by DYMM Pduka Seri Sultan Azlan Mihibbuddin Shah, Sultan of the State of Perak in recognition of his literary contributions.
In 2003 Saran’s dream of preparing a well illustrated book on all the Sikh Gurdwaras (Temples) in Malaysia and Singapore was accomplished with the publication of “Sikh Gurdwaras in Malaysia and Singapore 1873 – 2003”.

In 2005, Saran wrote a well illustrated 454 pages biography on Malaysia’s most respected and beloved Sikh Sant titled “Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji of Malacca 1902 – 1972 – His Life and Times”

Saran Singh served as Honorary Secretary of the Malaysia Numismatic Society from 1971 to 1984 and its Second Vice President from 1984 to 1992 .He was also M.N.S. Bulletin Editor for many years. Saran retired from the numismatic scene in Malaysia in 1992 and left for Canada.

Saran has also served in the Gurdwara Sahib Jalan Sungei Besi (Sha’pa), Kuala Lumpur as Honorary Auditor for 35 years from 1963 to 1987 and 1993 to 2002. He also served as a Honorary Treasurer in this Gurdwara Sahib for 5 years from 1987 to 1992.

A few words from Saran Singh –
“This is my first foray into the Internet as I am not exactly computer savvy. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the hundreds of my fellow numismatists, both dealers and collectors, in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, England, Australia and America. Their ever ready assistance and advice, including making available to me their valuable collections for study and cataloguing, made it possible for me to prepare the above informative articles and publications. I would also like to record my heartfelt appreciation to my “Sifu” (Master), the well known Numismatist/Collector/Dealer, the late Mr Low Chin Chuan (C. C. Low). He encouraged me and thought me everything there was to know about Numismatics in the early 1970s, at a time when collecting coins and banknotes was in its infancy in this country.

My advice to new collectors is – Do not go into this hobby blindly. Acquire the necessary knowledge first - “Buy the Book before the Coin” and seek assistance from other knowledgeable collectors. While collecting, stick to a particular country and period or topic. Plan your budget carefully and buy only the best conditions available (unless rare), within your means. You will thus enjoy this hobby, which is sometimes jokingly known as our second wife, because one may end up spending more time and money on this hobby than on your wife!!!. It is truly said that Numismatics is the “King of Hobbies and the Hobby of Kings”.  Anyway, to all you wonderful people in this hobby, I wish you well, Happy Collecting.”

Saran Singh.     July 2011.


1.  “The Catalogue of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Coins 1700 – 1974” – 92 pages  
     (Published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in 1974)

2.   “Standard Catalogue of Coins and Bank Notes of Malaysia, Singapore and    Brunei 1700 – 1976”
       – 403 pages. Co-authored with C. C. Low, Mohd Kassim bin Haji Ali and Tony Lye.
       (Published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in 1976)

3.  “Pictorial Guide to Grading of Malaysian Coins and Banknotes” – 143 pages.
       (Published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in 1978)

4.   “The Formation of Sikhism and the Coins of the Sikhs 1469 – 1489”- 24 pages.
       (Published by Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia in 1979)

5.   “The Coinage of the Sultanate of Brunei 1400 - 1980” – 65 pages.
       (Published in the Brunei Museum Journal Volume 4 Number 4 of 1980)

6.   “Standard Catalogue Coins of Malaysia Singapore Brunei 1786 – 1980” – 100 pages, First Edition.
       Co-authored with C. C. Low (Published by World Monetarium, Kuala Lumpur in 1980)  

7.   “The Encyclopaedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1400 – 1986” – 675 pages,
       First Edition. (Published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in 1986)
8.  "Malaya and Sarawak Rubber Export Coupon 1922-1942”–40  pages.(Published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in 1990)

9   “A history of the new Sikh Temple Jalan Sungei Besi (Sha’pa), Kuala Lumpur – 52 pages
      (Published in 1991)

10. “The Encyclopedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1400 – 1967” – 604 pages,
      Second Edition (Published by the Malaysia Numismatic Society in 1996,
      Produced by International Stamp & Coin Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur)

11.   “Sikh Gurdwaras in Malaysia and Singapore – An Illustrated History 1873 – 2003”) – 470 pages
      First Edition 2003 (Published by Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur)

12.   “Contributor and Editorial Adviser on the Chapter on Sikhism (Pages 116 – 121) in “The Encyclopedia of Malaysia – Religions and Beliefs” Volume 10 by Prof. Dr M. Kamal Hasan and Dr Ghazali bin Basri (Published by Editions Didier Millet, 2005. Archipelago Press)

13.    “Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji of Malacca 1902 – 1972 – His Life and Times” -454 pages, First Edition 2007 (Published by  Gurdwara Sahib Malacca and Sant Sohan Singh Ji Malacca Memorial Society)

14.   Contributor to “Sikh Community in Malaysia” by Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Darshan Singh Gill (A project by Gerak Sikh. Printed by MPH Group Printing (M) Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur , 2009)


1.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter One – State of Malacca (Malaysia Numismatic Society Bulletin Vol.7 No.3 and No.4 (1975)
 (Serial No.1 and 2, Pages 1 – 11)

2.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Two – State of Kelantan (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.7 No.5 and No.6 (1975) (Serial No. 3 and No.4, Pages 12 – 21)

3.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Three – State of Pahang (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.7 No.7 (1975) and Vol.8 No.1 (1976) (Serial No. 5 and No.6, Pages 22 – 31)

4.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Four – State of Johore (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.8 No.2 and No.3 (1976) (Serial No.7, Pages 32 – 38)

5.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Five – State of Perak (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.8 No.3 (1976) (Serial No.7, – Pages 39 -41)

6.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Six – State of Kedah and Perlis (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.9 No.3 (1977)  (Serial No. 8, Pages 42 – 45)

7.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Seven – State of Trengganu (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.9 No.4 and No.5 (1977) (Serial No.9 and No.10, Pages 46 – 54)

8.  “Tin and Gold Coins of the Malay States 1400 – 1963” – Chapter Eight – State of Selangor and Negri Sembilan (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.9 No.6 (1977) (Serial No.11, Pages 55 – 58)

(Note: The above articles were the forerunners of what eventually became “The Encyclopaedia of the Coins of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1400 – 1986)

9.   “What to collect?”  (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.9 No.5 (1977)

10.  “The Coins of the Sikhs” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.11 No.3, No.4 and No.5 (1979)

11.  “The Miniature Cannons of Brunei” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.11 No.4 (1979)

12. “Modern Banknotes of Malaya 1935 – 1962 (includes Japanese Invasion Money) (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.12 No.4 (1980)

13. “Modern Banknotes of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1967 – 1980” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.12 No.5 (1980)

14.  “Coins and Banknotes of the British North Borneo Company 1881 – 1953” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.13 No.4)

15.  “Bank Notes of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 1967 – 1981” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.13 No.5 (1981)

16.   “Early Native Coinage of the State of Selangor 1743 – 1898” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.14 No.1 (1982)

17.   “Currency of the Straits Settlements 1865 – 1921” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.15 No.10 (1983)

18.  “Unlisted Private Estate Tokens of British North Borneo 1882 – 1924” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.17 No.5 (1985).  This article was also published in Spinks Numismatic Circular Volume XC III No.10,  Pages 328 -330, Dec 1985 and Volume XCIV No.1, Pages 7 – 9, Feb 1986.

19.   “The Currency of the State of Perak” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.18 No.1 (1986)

20.   “A Dictionary of Common Numismatic Terms” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.18 No.2 (1986)

21.  “Malaya – Japanese Occupation Pattern Coins (MALAYSIA) 20 Cents 2602 (=1942)” (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.18 No.3 (1986)

22.   “A brief history of Banks in the Straits Settlements and Malaysia 1840 – 1986” Part I – III (M.N.S. Bulletin Vol.19 No.1, No.2 and No.3 (1987)

23. Malaya – Rubber Export Coupons 1922 – 1942” (M.N.S. 21st Anniversary Souvenir Book (1989)

24.   “Unlisted Tin and Gold coins of the Malay States of Johor, Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Perak” (M.N.S. 21st Anniversary Souvenir Book (1989)

25.   “The Private Currency Notes of the Malayan Communist Party” (M.N.S. Bulletin Volume 22 No.2 Sep/Oct 1991

26.  “The First Coins of the Sikhs – Year 2 (1711) and Year 3 (1712) issued by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur (1708 - 1716)” and “The symbol of the leaf on Sikh coinage” (published in the Oriental Numismatic Society Newsletter No.144 (Spring 1995)    

27. “Bank Notes of Malaysia 1967 – 1998” (M.N.S. 30th Anniversary Souvenir Book 1968 – 1998)


  1. Hi Dickson,
    Our sincere thanks to you and Mr. Saran for your dedication towards promoting this great hobby.
    Time and again, we would definitely have to refer to you again for guidance.
    Thank you so much :)

  2. Dear whycollect,
    Thank you!
    Mr.Saran is still very active in Numismatics!

  3. Dear Saran,

    And it has been a real pleasure to me for having being able to rub shoulders with you, you being a truly affable gentleman with so much humility.

    Please remember that we still have a date at the Bangsar Baru's Pelita Restaurant, maybe, this Friday I will pop by at your place!



  5. Dear malayastraitsbanknotes,
    Can I joint in?Haha!

  6. Dear Depankanta,
    Mr.Saran masih sangat giat dalam bidang numismatik,kami bersyukur kerana Mr.Saran sanggup berkongsi pengalamannya dengan murah hati!
    Masih banyak yang kami harus memperlajari dari beliau!