It was September, 2016 on a Sunday afternoon when I was sitting on a flight from Cleveland to Toronto, and I couldn’t believe this is happening. Just one of those boring small flights, more on the ground than in the air, but it was a milestone in my life. It was the beginning of my new assignment.
It started about a year ago when I was first asked to do some work in India. After much preparation, I spent almost two weeks in Bangalore, and some days in Visakhapatnam and Pune. In general, I try to prepare for my trips by reading about the place I’m going to. Sometimes I do very poorly, but I tried to take India seriously.
I talked with people, read some articles, and books. My favorite was Ervin Baktay’s book about his three stay in India. This Hungarian orientalist spent three years in India between 1926 and 1929. It is almost a century later now, but the concepts were interesting, and in case of such a rich and ancient culture, or should I say cultures, a hundred years should not matter much. It was fascinating to read about the different religions and how they coexist together in India. Baktay’s book was the most helpful throughout my trip. I of course, also prepared numismatically, which wasn’t as easy as it seemed originally.
Practically, I have not done anything I wanted to, and managed to do things I never thought about. As always, when I put efforts into my trips, these turn out to be better than originally expected.
Throughout my more than two weeks in India, I still managed to get exposed to numismatics, and learn and acquire a little bit.
I was fortunate to get back to Columbus one more time, and while there, I visited the CONA club again. Interestingly, I haven’t been to Columbus before this year, and now twice in two months. These trips just pop up in my life. Once I was in Tennessee twice within two weeks, never before or after. Anyway, Gerry Tebben was nice to offer me a ride to the club’s meeting again. Thank you, Gerry!
About ten years ago, when I got back to collecting more seriously, I met Ole Sjoelund, who is an expert of coin variants. Ole is originally from Denmark, but now lives in France, but has traveled extensively. It’s been ten years now that we are exchanging emails, though we never met. Our conversations often exceeded coin collecting, However, I got quite a bit of help and inspiration from Ole over the years, not only in numismatics. If I just mention that currently he has over 38000 coins, it is quite likely that if I have a question about something, he has it. I really enjoy that we tend to collect similarly, except that he is approximately a life-time ahead of me, which is certainly to my benefit… During our conversations, I learned about some of his work regarding coin variants. The topic fascinates me, because it is not anything I could easily understand. Variants in general are such that one cannot really distinguish by touch only. I thought this would be interesting for anybody, who wants to learn about coin variants, so I asked Ole to talk about it. However, where this post is going to be unique is that I asked him to address the topic so that it makes sense for blind readers and without pictures. I had a few questions after I got the first draft, and since Ole is a good writer, I didn’t want to change his writing just to make it fit the original style. So, though it is originally not an interview, you will find a few questions I had.
I Was very much looking forward to going back to Slovakia, for the second time this year. Not only because of the numismatic plans I had for which I didn’t have time when I was there in March, but also some of my childhood memories bring me back to this country. For those of you who are looking for some museum descriptions, I have to say, nothing happened. Those, who would like to understand the not always successful aspects of numismatic tourism, I’d like to tell you about the not so good as well, just so you get a more complete picture of what it takes, and the mistakes you can make. Fortunately, not harmful, only annoying ones.
Sitting in a hotel room in Bucharest, with so much information in my head after the visit to the Museum of the National Bank of Romania. It is too late now to do anything, late even for a meal or a drink, but I definitely want to dump my brain hoping to capture as much as possible from what I heard today.
It started as always, when I found out I would be working in Romania, I wrote to the museum of the National Bank, and Oana Sticlaru immediately got back to me and scheduled a meeting for me.
Last year, after I spoke at the Chicago Coin Club, I got an email from Gerry Tebben, from the Central Ohio Numismatic Association asking me to speak at their club as well. It was the middle of winter, and traveling to Columbus is not the easiest thing from here, so we agreed that I’ll try my best to either take a trip when the weather gets warmer, or when work takes me there. Unexpectedly, I got a work assignment in Columbus, so I called Gerry if they were available that week. This is how I got to present at the CONA Coin Club. When I got the original invitation, I had no idea that one of the best clubs was asking me to speak at their meeting.
Gerry Tebben, who invited me, is a columnist at Coin World. So, I was excited when he offered to pick me up from my hotel, so we had some time to talk on the way. I also received an invitation to join some of the club members at their traditional before meeting dinner. I particularly enjoyed that people have such a wide variety of knowledge about different types of coins. The club is 110 years old, amongst other things they have educational presentations. A couple of the members are also writing at Coin World.
My presentation was about enjoying coins by touch, a modified version of what I presented in Chicago. In general, I don’t like to present the same thing, especially when I have a chance to meet the participants of my presentation, because based on the conversation I can get a better sense of what it is they would be interested in.
I don’t want to get into the details of my presentation, people who read this blog have a general idea of what I have to say about collecting by touch, however, I did bring a few coins to show, including the 2017 Hungarian Irinyi commemorative, as well as a 1510 .
I got to touch two very interesting things at the show and tell. One was a small gold nougat, and a fake Morgan Dollar. I have touched interesting gold pieces, but never an original nougat. The fake coin was interesting too, it wasn’t even silver, and the plating was coming off of it. Fortunately there was a real Morgan floating around, so it was interesting to hold them side by side. Dropping both on the table it was obvious which was the fake one, but just by holding them not necessarily. One felt newer and more beaten as well, which was the fake.
After the meeting, we had another nice chat with Gerry on the way home. Before I left Columbus, I got an invitation to get more work done, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to visit the club again, and hear one of the presentations.
On the way home, I couldn’t miss stopping by the German village and have a few sausages. That part of town felt really old; bumpy and narrow roads, as I got out of the Uber, I could hear German music and people waiting at the door to get a table in lunch time. It was definitely worth the 20 minutes wait.
After a short stay in Cambridge, it was time to leave for Dublin for the rest of the week. Things didn’t exactly turn out as planned, but I had a great time. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get to London to get to my flight, so I left too early. Fortunately. I looked around at the airport when I got there. You might wonder how. Well, I have an app on my phone which is able to tell me about all places sorted by distance, starting with the nearest one.
The next trip including numismatic interests led to Cambridge, UK. I’m spending a couple of days here and traveling on to Ireland this week. This time, I wanted to check out the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Currently they have a display of Indian coinage extending through the last two millennia. However, this time, I was not able to contact anybody at the museum. I tried through email and Twitter, but I didn’t even get a response. Fortunately, things turned out much better than it looked when I arrived, but more about that later. First, let me start with a few thoughts on travel which maybe interesting, not necessarily numismatic related, but part of the journey of a blind collector.
Recently I read an interesting article on Coinweek, about how difficult it is to win the next generation for the hobby. I just started to write up my thoughts on the subject, not necessarily a response, when I came across another interesting piece, which argues that the best recruit is the middle-aged collector. I don’t want to respond to this one either though it may sound that way, but I would like to add my own $0.02. I believe kids are still good recruits if approached well. I don’t think it is an all or nothing deal, kids can enjoy collecting before they become numismatists.