KOTA TINGGI - Artefacts and rare coins originating from the old Johor Sultanate are being sold openly on eBay and through runners hired by private antiques collectors.
Checks by The Star revealed that rare animal-shaped coins, including those resembling crocodiles, tortoises, roosters, fish, frogs and crabs, are being sold illegally.
Johor artefacts found are supposed to be surrendered to the authorities there.
The starting bids for these types of currency on eBay range from US$59.90 (S$75) to US$1,374.99.
There are at least two main sellers auctioning the items off via eBay.
One seller was also found to be selling similar coins from Perak.
A Singapore-based collector was found selling rare Johor-based hexagonal gold coins from the years 1527 to 1699 (the Johor Lama period) online.
Malaysian Nature Society Johor chairman Vincent Chow said that there was a network of runners buying artefacts for local and foreign private collectors.
"Runners would usually work with local fishermen or antiques shops to purchase these items as soon as they are found or dug up," he said.
An antiques shop owner, who declined to be named, said that he usually keeps rare items and take them out only for special customers. "If the authorities knew about these items, they would definitely seize them," he said.