Thursday, August 02, 2007

Me the numismatist

Almost every one has some sort of hobby that keeps them accommodated during leisure time. Collecting coins is one such orthodox pastime that many people engage in. Although I used to have and maintain a ‘decent’ coin collection, time dedicated towards it has been a minimum since late.

Therefore, last week I decided to open my box of collected coins, which contains a little more than 250 coins. One thing noticeable was that I needed to do a recount and regroup of the collection, since it becomes a tedious task if a new member joins. Same as philately a properly analysed coin collection could offer you immense knowledge. After all knowledge is wealth, they say. My collection accompanies coins from more than 35 countries, spanning over 5 centuries, as I believe. Of course, there are a few unidentified pieces in it as well.

Coins of Ceylon include a few ‘VOC’ ones (now that’s not Very Old Coins) as well as ¼ and ½ cents coins too. Then there are the old British and Indian stuff as well. The filter on my collection is rather simple: foreign coins & local oldies. In addition, I have a couple of ‘token’ coins which are rather strange in the sense that they look a like tokens but seem to have been used for monetary purposes. Hmm… weird eh?

Some coins are on the verge of being ‘flattened out’ because of extensive decay. So how do I protect them or at least delay the decay? Neither am I an archaeologist nor do I have a high tech lab with protective equipment. Hence, I opted for a homemade tissue wrapping sealed with a piece of sellotape. Hopefully it would keep things in place until someone offers me some expert advice. Give it away? Where? The museum? Well, that could be considered in the future may be.

Remember me telling about the amount of information a coin collection could offer. I found it to be quite immense. From politics to botany & zoology, geography, building architecture, language, monuments, arts, history & culture, emblems, etc, the list just continues. Oh, and last but not the least hair styles too. They’re pretty old but gives us an insight towards yesteryear’s fashions.

In a way, a coin collection also teaches us a fair amount of economics. Just think of the early 1900’s 1 cent coin of Ceylon (the one with the palm tree in it) being bigger in size than the present 1 rupee! By the way, 1 rupee equals 100 cents in case you were wondering.

Coin collecting could offer you some great challenges that if won, could turn out to be pleasant surprises. I had to cross-reference details in coins with stamps or notes at times in order to figure out which country they belong to. Also, intuition, logic and a bit of common sense could be a handful in such situations.

Currently I’m thinking of a better way of storing the coins and documenting them methodically so that I could keep track and quickly refer them in the future. As an invitation, I’d like to exchange my ‘extras’ with you if interested. So till again, happy collecting!