Month: November 2016

I Did Something Fun As A Kid… And Now It’s Worth 6 Digits!!!

Oh boy. This is going to be a picture heavy post. And probably the most fun post for me on SG TTI thus far.

305) Currency collection.jpg

As a little kid some 25 years ago, I used to collect stuff. There were 3 things that I was really serious about for several years: Currency (Coins & Notes), Stamps and Phonecards. (Yes, phonecards for public pay phones! No, NOT SIM cards!)

If you have no idea what are phonecards… well congrats. You have a ton of what’s probably the most valuable resource in the world.

Recently, in the midst of doing some year end packing, I found my collection lying in the dust and got them valued professionally. Despite it being a “down market” (that’s what I was told anyway), the entire collection, valued separately, but in it’s entirety, is worth north of 6 digits!!!

Like WOW.

OK, if at this point, you’re feeling a bit underwhelmed, that’s totally understandable. Afterall, I’ve heard of single stamps that’s worth 7 digits so my entire massive collection being worth 6 digits isn’t much to shout about.

The “Penny Black” for example:

304) Penny Black stamp.jpg

How much is this baby worth? Priceless probably.

Anyway, I was really really really super surprised. To put things into context, this  is kinda the stuff that sits in the corner of the storeroom, you bring it along whenever you shift house but never really pay attention to it. As a kid, I used to diligently catalog them. It was not so easy to find out more details about my currency and stamp collection because back in those days, there wasn’t even the internet. (yes, serious!)

Turns out that a quarter of a century ago, I was a “buy-and-hold” Graham and Dodd type of investor, before I even knew what that was. Better yet, I didn’t actually buy any of these.


Phonecards, for the uninitiated, belong to the era when public pay phones are everywhere. They mostly look like this too:

306) Singapore phonecard payphone.jpg

Notice the phone books at the bottom. Nostalgic eh.

I have a ton of phonecards, mostly unceremoniously kept in old, dirty namecard holders like these:

307) namecard holders for phonecards.JPG

308) Phonecard 1.JPG

Some of you guys may own Singtel. I dont. But I have Singapore Telecom.

309) Phonecard 1 back.JPG

The back of each phonecard would have a ticker bar of some sort. Notice the tiny little puncture holes on the ticker bar? That indicates how much value is left in your card. Most of the cards in my collection have a puncture at the $0 mark. Why? Cos I used to hang around and wait for people to finish making their calls and discard their cards, before swooping in to collect them.

333) Phonecards 1.JPG

Fuji Film doesn’t even exist anymore


1996. The “First Of Its Kind” is now probably  on it’s way to being the  last of it’s kind.

337-phonecards-5National Day 1994… These kids should be in their mid 30s now, probably with kids of the same age when they took this photo.

Again, another now defunct company: Kodak

Defunct = good for my collection. Nobody can produce Kodak phonecards anymore because 1) Kodak is defunct

2) Phonecards are defunct



SMRT commemorative set with the flimsy old MRT cards! Ironic that many yrs later, it’s now a private company


And of course, Coca Cola collector item phone card. Coca Cola stuff tends to be very well collected worldwide for some reason.


This should catch the attention of most readers. Everyone likes to look at money.

310) Sg Currency Collection.JPG

Part of my SG old notes collection. Some keen eyed readers may notice that hey, there’re $2 and $10 and $50 notes that are “current” and not exactly old, why are they there?

So let’s play a little game of “spot the difference”:

311) different signature notes $10 - Copy.JPG

Spot any differences between a “current” note and the notes in my collection?




Answer: The signature!

Both the 2nd notes are signed off by Lee Hsien Loong when he was the Chairman of Board of Commission Of Currency Singapore. Since he’s probably never going back to that role again, you won’t have new notes with his signature on it. Most people are not going to bother or even realize this minute detail, so over time, the supply of such notes will go down as they get destroyed or replaced and taken out of circulation.

Then I’ll be one of the few holding on to a substantial supply.

Deep value, long term, buy and hold investing at it’s best. :)

312) different signature notes $2 - Copy.JPG

More variants in my $2 collection.


How much is one of these bird series $1 notes worth?

How much is a stack of 1,000 such notes worth?

How much is a stack of 1,000 such notes, but in crisp, mint condition worth?

314) Bird series $1 notes in running order.JPG

How much are several stacks of these, each with 1,000 notes, all unfolded and in crisp mint condition, and with serial numbers in running order worth?

Too bad I don’t have the series starting from 000000 – 001000. I’m guess that’d be worth a lot a lot more.

Some other notable mentions:

315) Orchid series note.JPG

316) $50 with hologram.JPG

I remember spending 1 of these $50 notes with a hologram of Yusof Ishak on MacDonald’s. LOL. Damnit.

 317) old $10 comparison.JPG

1st July 1941. These are much older than me. The 1st note looks the cleanest, last looks the oldest.

Which of these are the most valuable, and why?

Answer: The last is the most valuable, followed by the middle, with the top one the least.

Why so?

318) 1st $10 note.JPG

1st note’s “lion head” hologram. That’s the normal one.

319) 2nd $10 note.JPG

The 2nd note’s hologram is misprinted to be lower than it should be.

320) 3rd $10 note.JPG

The 3rd note’s hologram is completely facing the wrong direction!

When there’s an error like this, it tends to be more valuable because it’s unique and much more rare.

These are some of my favorites:


Banana Notes (Currency when Malaya was occupied by the Japanese)

322) Jap gov currency 2.JPG

1st July 1941!

327) $10 coin.JPG

Ever seen a Singapore $10 COIN before?

328) Macau handover to China commerative set.JPG

1999 Macau’s handover to China commemorative set. I’m betting that some ultra wealthy Chinese history and nationalistic fanatic will take this off my hands some day.

332) SG old coins.JPG

All of these coins are older than me.

332) old manchurian coin.JPG

I have like 1,500 of these 1909 Manchurian coins. This coin was minted 10 yrs before the Titanic sunk. Imagine that.

Found good info about these coins here:

Digging up my treasured collection is itself a hell of an experience… but THIS is my absolute favorite:

329) old envelopes.JPG

A bunch of ancient envelopes that I used to store some of my notes!

The 1st envelope was back in Sec 1. I was a pretty good student, and won a couple of “book prizes” for certain subjects. Back then, winning a book prize gives you…. errr like $30 in book vouchers. Real cheapo considering how hard it is to win.

Anyway, since I really liked History then, I used the envelope that my prized $30 came in to store my notes.

The 3rd envelope says “Brunei Cannot Use Notes”. Let me explain. As a kid, I was thinking of accumulating at least 1 of EVERY SINGLE NOTE of every single country in the world. I figured that as long as I have a single one of it, any additional copy will then go into my other trading pool, which I can use to trade and/or sell to eventually swap it for new currency notes or coins that I don’t have under the “cannot use” category.

Some kids trade basketball cards, some trade pokemon, some trade erasers.

I trade currency.

Many of the old envelopes are from “Mercury Freight” as my dad used to work there. I remember his work involved driving around everywhere, which is great for me as a kid, as dad would be able to come pick me up from school anytime. (Petrol is paid for by the company too!)

The last envelope… lol that’s one of favorites. It holds only 1 single coin:

Front and Back of coin.

At that time, I asked my parents why does it say “Malaya and British Borneo 1961”, together with a picture of the British queen at the back

So is it Malaysia’s, Singapore’s or British’s currency?

Well, I tried to write the explanation as best as my young mind could comprehend on the envelope. “CONQUAR”!! LOL!

Please don’t judge. I think I was around 10 then.



I used to spend countless hours cataloging these and grouping them nicely in albums. There are like 30(?) such albums all full, plus boxes more of uncategorized stamps.


Even now, there are some stamps who’s country of origin remains unknown to me. Like this one above. Where’s that from?!

The more valuable uncut stamps were kept in the more expensive albums

The more valuable ones though, aren’t exactly stamps but 1st day covers! Most of the 1st day covers were kept in large plastic boxes like the one on the left. I have like 12 of those boxes full.


This is one of my favorite:





These aren’t 1st day covers, they’re stamp collectors compilations. Each one inside has limited edition stamps along with detailed explanation of the concept for each stamp design. Here’s 1 example:




International 1st day covers:


I like the Prince William one a lot. Pretty arty farty looking


I also have an enormous chunk of really old 1st day covers.

As far as I know, in those days, if you’d like to get the 1st day covers stamped (with the date and stuff), and you should because that’s what makes it valuable, you’d need to have a name and address on the 1st day cover.

Which is why the older ones all look like this:


There’s a name and address on the envelope.

BUT, because I have some 1st day covers from that era, with stamps but WITHOUT any names or addresses on it, those are supposedly worth a lot more:


Because in those days, it’s supposed to be illegal to stamp the envelop without the relevant address. Well, not illegal. Just not allowed, I guess. That’s my understanding anyway.

Alright, this concludes my post. There’re a lot more unique stuff in my collection, but it’s getting way too image intensive. Plus I’m tired of taking photos so I’ll end here.

Who says investing has to be limited to equities and bonds?

I reckon that the way the whole world is printing $$$, at some stage, the inflationary pressures will be massive. And with that, the collectibles and other hard assets would be the ones that perform well.

I’ll probably keep these, maybe give them to my kids eventually. This must be what WB thinks… except that instead of stamps and phonecards and notes, he’s thinking of whole companies.

“Oh, I just realized that I own listed company ABC. Ah well, might as well keep it for Howard Buffett!”


TTI’s General Portfolio Musings… And Investing Note (The Investing Platform)

I’ve been away for a break (again!) and just returned. There’s a famous Steve Jobs speech that he gave during a commencement ceremony at Stanford:

In his speech, the legend spoke of how every morning, he’d ask if the day is his last, would he be doing what he’s about to do for the day. And if the answer is no for a few days in a row, he’d know he had to change something.

Well. I think I must be doing something right then. Because each time I’d look forward to a family holiday (and that’s rather often), but just 2 days into the holiday I’d be looking forward to coming back and getting back to work.

There’s just no pleasing me.

Anyway, on the investing front, I’ve been really really busy and I think before the year is up, TTI’s portfolio would likely see some major changes.

I haven’t shared about all the work I’ve done of late, some of that is because there’s still more work to be done. Mostly because it’s really quite a hassle to pen it all down coherently.

Anyway, I think I’m gearing SG TTI’s portfolio to be even more concentrated. I’m very confident of my approach and how it’d turn out in the long run.

As 2016 approaches the end, I think it’s fair for me to predict that this year is likely to be a somewhat boring year for me. TTI’s ROI is likely to just barely outperform or barely underperform the STI ETF. Mostly thanks to my position in Valeant.

2017 though, would be the 1st full year since I’ve changed my strategy to involve more concentration, more deep value, more focus on quality rather than quantity in terms of research and I feel justifiably confident that SG TTI would completely trash my benchmark next year. Yes, trash. Not beat. I’ve reasons for this confidence, and that’ll be revealed in subsequent posts.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from the guys at Investing Note about a blogger campaign. I believe probably some of the other financial bloggers received the same email as well.

To cut a long story short, they’d like to collaborate. Basically, I’ll have to write a post about Investing Note, with a link for readers to sign up. For every successful reader that signs up, I’ll receive $2, up to a maximum of $200.

I declined.

Not because Investing Note ain’t good (this is the 1st time I’ve heard of them tbh), but simply because it seemed to be too much of a hassle for $200.

Plus I’m generally skeptical of anything that sounds like it’d take up my precious time. I have a full time job in the healthcare sector, and on top of that, I decide on capital allocation matters for a private investing holding company. Add on the demands of family life and SG TTI, and my schedule is really hectic to say the least.

So time, is a very valuable resource to me.

Now, this is just my honest, personal opinion, but I think most investors who set out to do research into a company, probably spend too much time looking at the news rather than actual data and formulating their opinions.

This is because there are just simply way too many avenues out there sprouting out news. The news is the same regardless of which site you read it from.

Actual opinion pieces with good substantiation though, are much rarer, simply because they are much much harder to produce. They’re also much harder to read and understand, and humans being humans, we would rather have something that sits easy with our brains.

So I generally limit my online research reading to just NextInsight, as well as occasionally,

Although even the latter seems a bit “stale” recently. Rather quiet and nobody’s really sharing anything that’s of much value to me. I remember it being much more useful and helpful previously.

NextInsight, on the other hand, has consistently proven to be very informative and relevant. I honestly think their tagline “a hub for serious investors”, is very appropriate. So that’s the site that I make a point to at least peer at everyday.

But Shanison (from Investing Note) is a convincing guy, and I decided to at least test out their platform, and boy, was I surprised.

Some background here: Since SG TTI was set up 8 months ago, I’ve received quite a number of emails from guys who are interested or have plans to create an investing platform for people to share ideas or for others to read and follow other investors they respect.

Suffice to say, these guys who contacted me weren’t interested in my “legendary” IT skills. Rather, they were more interested in seeing if I would write for them, and in fact, port over the entire SG TTI to their site.

I think most of these enterprising guys were inspired by SeekingAlpha. They seem to be the most lively and respected, when one talks about global companies. They’re not really relevant for SGX equities though.

Anyhow, Investing Note is, as far as I am aware of, one of the first and most user friendly sites that focuses on the local SGX companies. Essentially they seem to have accomplished what many others are planning to do (from my email discussions), so kudos to Shanison and team.

Since I have declined to receive any remuneration from them whatsoever, I guess that means I can be as blatantly frank as I want in my review.

I can see why the platform is gaining traction so quickly. It’s user friendly, and there’s already an active community there discussing…. just about anything I think.

This is very important, as the main essence behind such investing idea platforms, is the community. Kinda like Facebook. (even though I don’t have Facebook…)

I also like how the team behind Investing Note are proactive, and they take feedback about their site very seriously. There’s a small icon at the bottom left where one can write your feedback, and unlike most feedback avenues whereby nothing gets done, here they are serious about receiving feedback and improving.

As an investor, the charts and data they’ve compiled are also updated and easy to navigate and use. Trust me, when I say it’s user friendly, it means ANYONE will think it’s user friendly. I’m not the most tech savvy of guys.

They even have simple explanations for some of the financial metrics listed, so if you’re a newbie just starting out in investing, that’d be rather helpful.

Those are the positives.

Now the negatives. I can only think of 1 actually. But it is quite a big one, IMO.

Most of the posts/comments/info that I can find on Investing Note, seem to be either just baseless opinions, or are TA in nature. And when I say most, I mean by far. Like… 90% maybe.

For example, the site has a pretty cool feature whereby anyone can give an “estimation” on a particular company. So for example, I can say… “Hock Lian Seng target price of $0.40 within a time frame of the next 6 months.”

The problem is, most of these estimations look like they’re just given randomly by some guy sitting behind the screen with scant thought. No different from horse punting.

No, actually, horse punting may actually require more research cos you’d need to look at the fitness of the horse, the jockey track record etc.

So someone would give an “estimation”, and if it succeeds, hooray, it looks good on my track record. If it fails, nvm, let me give another.

Not very useful, ain’t it.

For example, I saw an estimation “Company XYZ, to hit target price of $0.26 in 1 month.” Current price… $0.245.

(The figures are not exact but it’s something like that)

I actually giggled a little when I saw that. Seriously. I’m not sure how useful something like that really is to anyone reading it.

And worse still. If one is just taking these estimations seriously and investing speculating based on these… well. Please don’t do that.

Unless you’re extremely wealthy. Then please do that. We need to spread some of the wealth around.

Anyhow, that’s my honest verdict. The hardware part is fantastic actually. Would’ve loved to get more intelligent discourse from the site. And in all fairness, that may very well be the case in time to come, if they can attract more investors to go on board.

I’ll be checking in periodically now that I’ve an account there. For existing users of Investing Note, SG TTI’s posts will be “crawled onto the site” according to them.

My username is “ThumbTackInvestor” if you’d like to drop in and say hi.

Alright, so this is the end of my simple, lazy, quick post/update.

My next post though, is going to be very, very entertaining (I promise). It’ll be the most image intensive, it’ll definitely be unique and well, I can already imagine the fun I’m going to have writing about that. 

Stay tuned.