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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Did you know Series (30): My Coins & Currencies blog titled “Coins & More”: The Journey so far:



Did you know Series (30): My Coins & Currencies blog titled “Coins & More”: The Journey so far:

My coin collection started several years ago when I was studying in Lucknow University in 1975. Whenever I found an unusual or commemorative coin, I simply used to “dump” it into a shoe-box without ever trying to find out more about that coin. 

Into this shoe box, I also put in a two-rupee “lucky” Banknote given to me by my grandfather in 1970 when I was studying in Class VII in La Martiniere College, Lucknow, which never got spent. (Every time the occasion came to spend this Banknote, I came into money from some source or the other). I have now got this note laminated and have kept it as a special memento and as a bond to my grandfather from so many decades ago).

Even when I was working in the State Bank of India, I was not a serious Coin Collector.

In 2007, my wife Sumita and I took early retirement from the Bank and seriously started searching for hobbies. My first hobby was Tarot Research and Reading & I came to own fifteen of the world’s best Tarot decks in my Tarot Library. My next hobby was Bird-watching for which we went through a course with field visits etc, the next hobby was Wine Research and identification in which I became quite an expert.

It was only when the Asstt. General Manager of the local branch of the State Bank of India invited me to give suggestions for a Heritage Room that was being set up at the branch in 2010 that I seriously looked at my coin collection for the first time & catalogued some 40 coins dating from 1835 onwards which were exhibited in the Heritage room (For those of the readers who may not be knowing, the heritage of the State Bank of India goes back to over 200 years when the Bank of Bengal was set up in 1806 which later transformed into the British Presidency Banks of Calcutta, Bombay & Madras and later the Imperial Bank of India before evolving into the State Bank of india. The Bank celebrated its bicentenary in 2006 – For more information on the State Bank of India please click here).

 Fascinated with popularity of these coins among the viewers, particularly of the British India period & the Presidency Bank emblems displayed on them, I started researching on them and familiarizing myself with the coin histories and later on coin qualities – Proof, Uncirculated and circulating coins etc. Then, in March 2011, I came across a coin album that seemed to contain a silver Mexican peso minted in 1898 which fascinated me no end.

On 18th April 2011, this blog was started tentatively. By end April 2011, I had received only 72 views mostly from Malaysia and almost gave up writing new posts thinking that the blog was a non-starter. In May 2015, the number of visitors had crossed 500.

After that there was no looking back for me. Today, the blog receives around 700 to 1000 visits daily and there are over 240 posts. I have answered over 2000 emails which I have been receiving from visitors to the blog, apart from around 800 comments which have figured on the blog.  I was pleased to note that the blog has answered even unusual queries like “Peace be within this wallet coin”.

There have been two very important contributors to my Currency & Coins collection – Krishna Tonpe (for my Indian coins & currency collection) and Jayant Biswas (for my Foreign coins and currency collection), apart from several other contributions from my friends and relatives, including Hirakda, my sister Raka, Ajit George, Abhishek Pradhan, my sister-in law Paromita, Dennis & Maggie etc. Everyone from the staff of local McDonald’s outlet, to the parking lot attendants, to grocery vendors and provision stores, to Malls has contributed in some way or the other to build up my coin collection.

Div Rakesh has brought rare circulating commemorative coins and a Banknote for me from when he was based in Berlin. There is a guest post by Rahul Kumar, who has read every one of my articles and commented on each one of them. I have commemorative coins in my collection which have come from the Royal Mint UK, US Mint, Perth Mint (Australia), Singapore Mint, Malaysian Mint, Mexican mint, Pretoria Mint SA, Seoul and Taegu Mints in South Korea, Tower Mint, UK, Pobjoy Mint, UK etc and the Indian Mints of Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

There is the story of a handicapped parking lot attendant at a hill station which we went to for a holiday and I asked her whether she had any bi-metallic ten Rupee coins, she said she did not have any, but when I came back to the parking lot she had stayed beyond her duty hours and she gave me a “2015 - ten rupee coin” which she had collected in the interim for me. When I wanted to tip her, she refused to take the tip and instead asked me to write about her on my blog. This kind of enthusiasm and support from a person whom I may never see in this life again has left an unforgettable impression on me and egged me on with more stories on my blog.

I have kept her 10 rupee coin in a special category along with two other centre-pieces – a 10 rupee silver coin on Mahatma Gandhi minted in 1969 and the first and only 1000 Rupee Commemorative coin minted in 2010 on the 1000 years of existence of the Brihadeeshwarar temple in Tanjore or Thanjavur, built by the Great South Indian King Raja Chola Chola I in 1010, whose son Rajendra Chola I expanded his kingdom all the way to Indonesia and Laos.

The blog looks at coins in a way,  it is a kind of trip down memory lane – the person or the place or event who/which  has figured on the coin, the cultural and historical aspects of the time etc.

There are also the stories of the Australian Penny, the Emblem of Australia, the Great Seal of the USA, Native American coins, the legends carried on the British one pound coins, the British Royal Coat of Arms, Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II, the Sinking of the Titanic, 50 years of the World Wildlife Fund etc. on the blog.

Interestingly, some coins depict the “Lemniscate” on lower periphery (meaning a “ribbon” or the “symbol of Infinity” depicted as the sideways figure of eight) in the hope that their coinage would last in perpetuity. (For more information on "Lemniscates" please click here).

There are elaborate posts on the currency and coinage of Australia (Australian dollars), The Bahamas (dollar and cent), Bermuda, Bhutan (Ngultrum), Brazil (Real), Coins of Canada, Currency & Coinage of the Middle East -  United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman and Kuwaiti currency), Finland (Provincial coins), Greek coinage (from Ancient Greece to present day Euros), Kuwait (Dinars & Fils), History of Mexican Coinage and Currency (including Spanish & Revolutionary coinage),  South Korea (Won & Jeon), Bangla Desh (Taka), Bailiwick of Jersey (which includes the first holographic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on aCent Livres” Banknote, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Barbados (their currency includes assists for the visually impaired persons for easy identification of the Banknote denominations in the shape of intaglio cricket stumps, balls and bails – indicative of the popularity of cricket all over the Caribbean), Bosnia & Herzgovina (Konvertible Marka), Burma (Kyat & Pya), People’s Republic of China (Yuan) and its Administrative Regions of Hong Kong & Macau.

Also included are, Deutsche Democratische Republik (erstwhile East Germany), Denmark (Kroner & Ore), East Caribbean Currency & Coinage, Fiji ( an island in the South Pacific), French Overseas Territories, Currency & Coinage (including French Polynesia), Ghana (Cedi & Pesewa – I learnt that there was an Indian connection to the term Pesewa, which originates from the North Indian State of Bihar where the term Pesewa is in wide usage for coinage), Gibraltar, Hungary (Forint), Haiti (the first Free Republic where the bonded/slave labour rose in war against their French masters and won their Independence through armed conflict), Indonesia (Rupiah), Japan (Yen),  Malaysia (Ringgit), Mozambique (Meticais & Centavos), Philippines (Peso), Poland (Zloty and Grosz. In addition, there are two articles on two Polish Banknotes which commemorate Marie Curie and Chopin), Rwanda, Samoa (Tala – which originates from the term “dollar”), Serbia (Dinar), Singapore, South Africa (Rand), Tunisia (Dinar & Milim), Turkey (Lira & Kuru),  Vietnam (Dong), New Zealand (new Series being introduced in 2016 – titled “Brighter Money”), et al.

Some of the other posts on Commemorative coins include, Austrian Silver-Niobium coins (the first country to introduce this metallic composition), 225th Anniversary of the US Marshals, a Coin set from New Zealand,  Coin set from Gibraltar & the Isle of Man, Rabindra Nath Tagore (India’s Nobel laureate for Literature), Charles Dickens, Bicentenary of Louis Braille, Shri Aurobindo (the originator of Internal Yoga”), Coins depicting “Chanakya” (called the “Indian Machiavelli”), stories on Indian coins with Social messages et al.

Silver coins – Rupee coins from British India – Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V and George VI (Interestingly, the earlier coinage included the term “Ind.IMP.” (meaning “India Imperator” or “Emperor of India”), which was removed from coins issued from 1949 onwards).

 A silver coin on General Yuan Shih Kai from China, nicknamed the “Fatman Dollar”, (the great-grandson of General Yuan corresponded with me after going through this piece which was quite a pleasant surprise for me). One silver Paistre minted in 1895 (this was a French Indo-China issue), a silver Mexican Peso originally struck in 1898 and re-struck for the Chinese Government in 1949, (which comes with an interesting story on the coin’s travels) et al.

Gold coin posts on the blog include – a 1930 British Gold Sovereign from South Africa depicting George V, American Eagle gold coins, American Buffalo Gold coins.

During the visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron to india in early 2013, MMTC-PAMP (an Indo-Swiss joint venture) was given a franchise to mint British Gold Sovereigns in India. I have put up posts on  the 2013 & 2014 Gold Sovereigns minted in India with the “I” Mint Mark after a lapse of several years when the Bombay Mint (present day Mumbai Mint) had minted these coins in 1918, at a time, when the Mint was declared to be a part of the London Mint. For the first time ever outside the Royal Mint UK, gold Half-Sovereigns were minted in India in 2014 by MMTC-PAMP, which was a treat for Indian Numismatists and which are a part of my collection.

Gold coins issued by New Zealand on Sachin Tendulkar (hailed as the “World’s Greatest Batsman” in the game of Cricket) also find a mention on my blog.

The stories on Indian mint marks of four Indian Mints and of 9 Foreign mints which have made coins for India before 2001, whereafter India gained self-sufficiency in minting coins are of particular interest to readers. The blog includes posts on the evolution and stabilisation on 1, 2 and 5 Rupee coins in India post-Independence.

There is a three part article on my visit to the Fort St. George Museum in Chennai (erstwhile Madras – the first fort built by the British in India. I have inter-alia covered the Fort’s collection of Indo-Danish, Indo-Dutch, Indo-French and Indo-Portuguese coins along with the coinage of Indian rulers like Tipu Sultan of Mysore). Also, there is a coverage on the Ancient Chinese, Indian and Islamic coinages kept in Shanghai Museum, China etc.

A few articles are on Indian stamps, including the “Swachh Bharat campaign” (or the Clean India campaign), “International Day of Yoga”, Sports etc and stamps from Thailand depicting “Buddhist Jataka Tales”,  “Forever stamps” from USA, “Man of Steel” stamps from Jersey depicting Lenticular stamps on Henry Cavil, the latest actor to portray Superman, among other posts.

The futility of war is depicted through the 2015 issue of the “200th Anniversary of the “Battle of Waterloo” coins which ended the Napoleonic Wars in early 1800s and by the “Hundert Mark” German Banknote issued on 01.11.1920 which was issued at the end of World War I which was practically a worthless currency – both Wars leading to the deaths of almost 10 million people each ending with bringing grief to all participating nations, including the originators of the Wars. The “Forever Stamps” post on stamps issued by the US Post on the “US Civil War 1861-65” shows pictures of prominent battles fought, as do some of the prominent America the Beautiful Quarters coins on the “Battle of Gettysburg”, “Perry’s naval victory” etc relate somewhat of a similar story of a nation at war with itself.

Piracy had been given a colourful picture through famous pirates of the Caribbean who have become near legendary through the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy”. There are posts on commemorative coins issued on behalf of Tuvalu Islands where Queen Elizabeth II has shared space on the Reverse with depictions of famous pirates – William Kidd (in which post, I have explored the possible locations of his lost Treasure), Edward Teach or “Blackbeard” (on whom stories abound that his headless body even now sails the Seas in search of his lost head), Black Bart Roberts or “Bartholomew Roberts” ( who had a “Parliament” on board his Pirate Fleet and who wrote the Pirate song “Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest, Yo Ho Ho & a Bottle of Rum” and had rules of discipline among his men as well as a retirement/pension plan), Jack Rackham (who became famous because two women pirates – Ann Bonny & Mary Read sailed with him), Henry Avery (who went upon only one major act of Piracy, when he attacked a Fleet of ships of the Indian Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb going out on a holy pilgrimage to Mecca and retired with a huge booty/loot) and Henry Morgan who laid claim to being the biggest Pirate of them all, raiding properties and ships of the Spanish Main. He was clapped in chains and brought to England in chains only to be released on popular public demand and was knighted by the King).

The Saints of India posts include famous Saints – Sant Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram (of Maharashtra), Thiruvalluvar (Tamil Nadu), Mahatma Basaveshwar (Karnataka & Maharashtra), Sree Narayan Gurudev, Mother Teresa, St Alphonsa, the Tercentenary of the Guru Granth Sahib (the religious book of the Sikhs), Lord Mahavir (the last Tirthankar of the Jains) et al

The Brihadeeswarar temple in Tanjore or Thanjavur completed 1000 years of existence in India in 2010. The Indian Government Mints brought out the highest denomination 1000 Rupee coin which was popular all over India and collectors paid huge premiums to have it in their collection This post is still quite popular. This denomination may never be minted again in India.

Several popular posts on Sports include – Coins and stamps on the 2012 London Summer Olympics & Paralympics, 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, Ryder Cup 5 Pound Commemorative Banknote, Postage stamps brought out on Indian stamps on FIFA 2014 (Brazil), Commonwealth Games held in India, 22nd Winter Olympics held at Sochi, Russia and participation of Indian sportsmen in the Beijing Olympics et al.

The highest denomination currency which figures on my blog is the 100 Trillion dollars Banknote from Zimbabwe, which interestingly is worth about US$5 today having gone out of circulation.

Of particular interest for me is the post on “Mahatma Gandhi and the Martyrs of Cellular Jail, Andaman & Nicobar Islands” which is the most popular post on my blog having gone for over 125,000 page-views. There is also a popular post on the “Indian First War of Independence in 1857” coin and coins on several prominent freedom fighters and movements in India.

Some other posts are on the London Underground, 350 years of the Guinea, the transformation of the two shilling coin (1949 coin) into the UK 10 pence, Queen Elizabeth II – the Portrait Collection, US State Commemorative Quarters, America the Beautiful Quarters, Susan B. Anthony dollar, the new US $100 Bill ( my friend got it within a week of release on 8th October 2013 & I was one of the first writers on this Banknote which is a very popular study), US Bicentennial coins, Westward Journey Nickels etc. It is a pity that the US Mint is no longer shipping to India, so I have to get my US coins in a roundabout manner. There is also the story of King Bruce of Scotland & the Spider.

The Blog also includes descriptions of Banknotes – the Mahatma Gandhi Series, the Ho Chi Minh Series, the Nelson Mandela series and the Mao Tse Dong Series are extremely popular.

My posts on Indian currency Notes – Rupees 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000, “Assists for the Visually challenged persons”, “What is at the back of your currency Note”, and “how to identify a Fake Rupees 500 Banknote” (this is a very popular post which has examined fake Banknote features for the first time in India, instead of what constitutes a genuine Banknote as is carried in most other posts)  have  been extremely well received and are the most popular posts on my blog.

Each and every new coin or Banknote or stamp that comes to my collection is simply “priceless” because, it represents an important personality or part of history or event or culture or place and it is capable of  transporting me back to the time when it was minted/printed & makes me feel that I am connecting in some way to an important facet of history. For me it is like travelling back in time through a time-machine.

Thanks are due to all those of my friends, contributors to the blog and to my collection and to readers/followers who have encouraged me on this journey and to all those who have visited this Blog from more than 180 countries from time to time.

My fascinating journey of “Discovering the World through Coins and Currency Notes” of various countries continues and there are several more Banknotes & Coins posts in the offing in several future posts which I hope the readers/visitors would find equally interesting.


6 comments:

  1. Ramchandra Lalingkar has commented:
    "Really, remarkable achievement indeed, Rajeev. In a span of almost four and a half years since 2010 you have created a history in 'Coin Collection'. Congratulations ! Your all posts, I observe that give full details about the coins / notes issued by other countries which contains history of the nation. Your reasearch ability is wonderful. Keep it up. I wish you as well as Sumita very BEST in such endevours of collection of currency notes/coins as also 'Bird-watching'. God bless both of you !!"


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    1. Thank you so much Lalingkar sahab for your kind words of appreciation. You have been a constant source of encouragement and guidance throughout this journey with your valuable comments and insight on our posts on the various blogs.which we always look forward to.

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  2. Sam Harding has commented:
    "Thank you for sharing your coin collection journey, it's so interesting!"
    Invaluable.com gives Numismatists a great opportunity to find rare coins and how the auction world is a great way to find those rare gems!!
    Here is the link to our coins page :
    http://www.invaluable.com/coins-monies-stamps/cc-SV4INCVA01/


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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words & support, Sam.

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  3. Wonderful journey indeed! I love the detailing and background information associated with each post on this blog. This one would serve as a beautiful index.. Wish all were hyperlinked!! :-)

    Cheers
    Rahul

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    1. Thank you, Rahul for your wonderfully encouraging words. I am just not getting the time to index my posts, with so many posts in the offing. Everyone keeps telling me that I am becoming a "nerd", but I guess, I always wanted to become a journalist, so this is the next best thing to it. Will however, try & index the posts at the first available opportunity.

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