A couple of years ago I have read about an interesting book, the Numismatourist, by Howard Berlin. The author is a retired history teacher and a numismatist. He is traveling around the world visiting mints and coin museums. I found his book interesting and inspirational, at that point I didn’t know I would try to follow his footsteps.
After I read about the book I ordered it from Amazon.
It was very hard to read, because of the pictures, the pages are quite shiny so my character recognition software had a hard time reading it, but I could manage for the most part.
I had no idea that there were so many coin museums around the world.
In 2015, when I attended the World’s Fair of Money, one day I got lost in a tunnel between the exhibit area and the hotel. I heard somebody walking by, so I asked him for directions. He was very nice and offered to walk with me to the hotel. He introduced himself, and I couldn’t believe it. He was Howard Berlin, had to be the Numismatourist. And he was. Right there, walking with me to the hotel. We had a nice conversation, and I told him that I really enjoyed his book.
As days passed by, I took all opportunities to visit any numismatically related museums or buildings, but there wasn’t much of it. We went to the Cleveland Coin museum with my daughter or the meeting of the Hungarian Numismatic Society. Almost to a coin exhibit, but I had to miss it because I was sick.
About a ear after my meeting with the Numismatourist, I got a new assignment at work. I am working with teams around the world, offering education to them. Inspired by the book, I have decided that during my free time on each trip, I will try my best to find something numismatically related. So far, I’ve been pretty successful, though not at every single place. For example, my trip to Atlanta was only about 24 hours including a Sunday night, so I wasn’t able to visit the coin museum. Maybe some other time.
Being a blind traveler, it makes sense in so many ways. When I travel, I have to preplan my trip to the smallest detail. Ok, I don’t have to, but it is a good idea. I need to know how far is my hotel from my work location, and how to get there. Walking, taxi, public transportation, etc. I also need to know where can I find food. Of course, I can take a cab anywhere, but it can quickly get pricy. I always aim at finding a hotel where there is good food within walking distance. It can’t be junk food, during my trainings, sometimes I need to stand for the whole day and concentrate, food is one of the things I don’t compromise on. For that matter, if a hotel or its neighborhood doesn’t have good breakfast, I don’t go there anymore.
I also have to plan my free time. During my travel, I tend to work long and unusual hours, due to the nature of my work, but I still have more than the half day available, and unless I have to prepare for my next presentation, I don’t like to spend it sitting in the hotel doing nothing.
Sometimes I do just go around randomly, and eat whatever smells good, but those trips do not offer too much, it is very random, and with a little preplanning, I can make my free time much more meaningful.
So, numismatics came to the rescue. How about building on the hobby, so that when I have free time, I find something numismatically interesting. If not, of course, there are many other things to do. Certain local foods to try, friends to meet whom I know from the area, or many other things, I often have more ideas than time. It certainly pays off to plan ahead.
I definitely want to make it clear that I am not trying to be like the Numismatourist. I’m pretty sure he did things other than visiting museums, but I have no idea. My goal is not just to visit mints or museums, but to do something numismatically related, visiting a local coin club, attending a coin show, meet somebody interesting, visit a coin store, etc. Whatever makes sense at a particular place.
So far, things are going better than expected. First I have to admit, I looked at each city as a checklist, but I quickly realized that one trip is not enough. The Smithsonian in DC, for example has such a wealth of information that I could spend weeks there. The Chicago Coin Club impressed me so much that I wouldn’t mind attending all of their meetings. And so on. And I didn’t even get to meeting many people, which I definitely would like to do in the future.
As I am reaching out to organize my trips, a number of opportunities have opened up for me, and I received several invitations.
As I’m wrapping up this year, I’m very much looking forward to what the next year will bring, both professionally and numismatically.