Sunday, August 25, 2013

On collecting coins

Numismatics - collecting coins.

As a young boy whenever I went to a shop and got a coin which was different from the normal ones, I used to put it away in a box.Some of my relatives who went abroad used to give a coin or two. This way I had some 200 coins and I was under the impression that I am a numismatist. Yes and no!!

About two years back, I had a friend who had retired from work. He used to work in the Madras High Court. He was a collector of coins for almost 30 years and had a lot of coins. He fell ill and wanted to sell all of his collection to meet the hospital expenses. I went to his house and he showed me his coins. I was awe-struck. He told me that if somebody gave him 5 lakhs, he would part with his collection.

With a sincere desire to help him, I approached my friend Raman Sankaran who is a numismatist and a specialist in mediveal coins. He came and saw the coins, some with a magnifier. He offered Rs.1.2 lakhs.

Subsequently when he spoke to me he described that collection as " a child's collection". He went on to explain that if you are seriously interested in collecting, then you have to pick a theme or a period. For example, Republic India coins, proof and unc sets, one coin from each country in the world, coins of Pallava kings and so on. 

Then you have to focus on that and start collecting.  Well that is for the serious collector. But I am a half-baked self styled numismatist!

I was (and still am) interested in collecting those coins which actually come into my hands as circulation coins or given by my friends.

My own focus is on Republic of India coins after 1947 and I try and collect these coins. But then, to complete or give value addition to this I would have to collect coins from every mint. (Mint-wise collection). That would be a far cry right now. I wish to collect as much as I can and pass on the collection to my grandson if he becomes interested in future.

Of course there are a few coins which I may never get. Like the International Crop Science issue or the 1996 Bose coin. Who knows?
If I have enough money I may get these too (hope I don't get cheated with fakes!!).

Tips to collect coins? I carry 10-20 coins with me at all times and if somewhere some commemorative coin is seen I would exchange it with my coin of same value. For example, there is a big vegetable super market near my house where a guy sits with lot of coins near the cashier.
I look at the lot and exchange a few coins sometimes.

Shops? There are very few shops and it is difficult to know these and also to get there, being far away. Sometimes I go there or send someone and BUY 100 coins. Say 100 nos. of 5 rupee Vaishno Devi Shrine. This is a small craze. Not collecting!

Also I have a passion for silver coins of British India period and I have a few coins from this period. But to gain knowledge in this area is arduous.

Thanks to internet. There are very good groups in Facebook where one can advance his/her knowledge on coins and even bid in the auctions to add to one's collection.

Happy collecting!

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