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.
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.
I have been to New York several times during the past year, but for some reason, I could never arrange a visit to the American Numismatic Society. I either didn’t have time, or it wasn’t open when I was there. This time, my trip got scheduled so close to departure that I could only call the day before I left. I had no hopes, but never hurts to try, especially because this was something I really wanted to do. I got to talk with Emma Pratte, the membership assistant. I explained the situation, and she promised she will see what she could do. In a few minutes my phone rang: they can see me at a two days advance notice. I was lucky again. But what can I do, I always have to schedule my trips last minute.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably know that the biggest challenge of collecting without vision is recognizing an unknown coin. There just isn’t a good way to do it alone. I need help. I was trying to come up with all kinds of ways of using technology to do this independently, but I couldn’t succeed. There are a number of shortcuts, but in most cases I need help from a human. While this hasn’t changed, I found a solution where I don’t have to bug friends and family, and I can get a coin recognized any time I’d like to. I found an app, called BeSpecular.
I sure needed some luck for things to work out just perfectly. I was scheduled to spend a few days in Chicago for work. I emailed the secretary of the Chicago Coin Club, Carl Wolf, to enquirer about their next meeting. It wasn’t totally random, I was already thinking about joining the club, but given that I had no idea when I’d be in Chicago I passed on it last year. So, it turned out that during my stay the club will meet. A few days later I got a request to be the presenter at the October meeting.
Recently I got a new work assignment, I will be traveling to train how to make information technology usable for people with disabilities. So, you can imagine. It is not just a job or an assignment, this is something I am passionate about. Both the travel and the work aspect of it. I started in Toronto last week. And there’s no better way to spend free time than experiencing the area, and of course, adding to my collection.
I found the ultimate coin store, just perfect for blind collectors, too. It is called the Stamp and Coin Place. They are located in Washington State, but they sell online. It started when they mentioned my blog in one of their blog posts on Past and Present. So as it usually happens on twitter, I tweeted the post and thanked them for the mention, after which I got a complement about my blog. There the conversation started with Elizabeth, who appeared to have read my blog and understood my challenges as a blind collector. Fast forward, I have made my first purchase from them, but let’s see why.
Recently I got a new coin which is one of my current favorites, a 1994 200 Escudos from Portugal, commemorating the 500 year anniversary of the Treaty of Tordesilhas. I found it interesting that there wasn’t a particular reason for getting this coin aside from the fact that Portugal is probably taking the third place in my heart among countries. In particular, because I don’t really collect commemoratives, though there are more and more exceptions to this rule lately. However, there’s no good reason why I like this coin, I just do, and I think it is part of collecting.
It’s been years that I have been very interested in having coins described in more detail than what you can find in coin catalogs. Today, I would like to announce a new initiative that has a potential, more than ever to make it happen.