Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Interview with Mr. Steven Tan

Dickson Niew: lunatic, Steven Tan looking for you.
Me: What? (thinking that I am doing something wrong).
Dickson Niew: Steven Tan called me and he said he want to meet you personally.
Me: I meet him few times before.
Dickson Niew: Hahahaha.., he just want to thank you for your post; Where is Steven Tan coin shop.
Me: Owh.., I thought Master Sifu want to 'ketuk' me. Hahahaha....

Today, I and Sifu Dickson Niew meet Master Sifu Steven Tan in his shop at Pertama Complex. Like Sifu Dickson said, he just want to meet me and thanks me for the blog post about his shop location. We talk for few hours and I had a chance to do some unofficial interview with Mr. Steven Tan.

To any of my new readers who still don't know who is Mr. Steven Tan. He is the Managing Director of International Stamp & Coin Sdn Bhd. He born in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan in 1938. He started dealing in stamps since 1960 and coins around 10 years later. He is like the Master Sifu in Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei stamps, banknotes and coins. You can even find his name in almost all Krause Publication books that are related to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei coins.

Steven Tan

At first, he show me how he do all his catalogue book update by himself. All are done manually eventhough he have a copy of the old book in soft copy. He prefer to look at the item on real paper and all the price update for his catalogue are done manually by him. All this while I thought he hire someone to do his catalogue update for him. For a new items, he will scan all his items, print and then "cut & paste" on his own design. Old way of cut & paste, cut the printed paper and paste/glued it on his mock-up design. His catalogue printer will be using his design and transfer it to their printing plates.

He is not using any personal computer in his catalogue work (except for the old items that are already in the catalogue), he is not very good in typing but still learning about computer. For me, old way of cut & paste are hardwork. It will take forever if I am the one who are doing it but Mr. Steven Tan enjoy and love his work.

When I asked him why his numismatic price in his book: Standard Catalogue Of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei Coin & Paper Money 20th edition are very low compare to market price. He reply, "the price in my book is not a market price, that is my selling price. If the market price suddenly going up, I still sell at my price. Even if my price are few times lower then the market price. It is a promise to all my customer. I don't simply increase the price of my items like everyone else".

"It will be easy for my customer from oversea to order anything from me. They just need to give my catalogue item reference without a need to bargain because my prices are fixed and everyone knew it is below the market price. I am happy because I can gain a profit that I can invest on other things. My buyer will be happy because they can get their collection at a cheaper price. Imagine if my prices are higher, when my buyer go to other shops and they find out my prices are expensive, they will be telling it to everyone. What will happen to my business? This is my principle that I had been hold on for over 52 years in this business".

He said he also knew that most Malaysian dealers will be using his book if they want to buy coins or banknotes from collectors and the same dealers will be using "other book" if they want to sell anything.

He said he will be selling items using his book price as long as he have any stock available for sell.

He start to collect coins and banknotes in 1970's when a group of people come to meet him and asked his help to buy a coin collection of a men who has been passed away. They need the money for his funeral and he paid few hundreds ringgit for all his collection. At that time, that is already a big amount of money for most Malaysian. He start to collect and sell coins and banknotes after that.

When I asked him about his collection, he reply that he already sold all his collection to someone who keep on coming to his shop. He knew his collection will be in a good hands, that is one of the reasons why he agree to sell it to him. I think many Malaysian collectors already own Frank Goon Collection book. Some of Mr. Steven Tan collections are in that book.

When Dickson asked him about the market value of Frank Goon collection, he reply ".....(sorry, I cannot share it in here, any of you who had a chance to meet Dickson Niew can ask the answer from him)....."

My meeting with Mr. Steven Tan sharply finished at 12pm, he need to continue with his work and Sifu Dickson need to meet someone at his collection corner in Subang Jaya.

stamp catalogue

Mr. Steven Tan give me a Standard Stamp Catalogue of Malaysia Singapore Brunei 28th edition with his signature as a gift.

Thank you to Mr. Steven Tan for the opportunity to meet you and a chance to asked few questions about numismatic. 

Hopefully everyone will understand now that the price in Steven Tan book is not a market price, it is his selling price. The book he wrote are just a guide for collector not something that everyone must follow.