The expo hall of Abu Sarovar Portico near Das Prakash Circle was brimming with activity. The three-day exhibition (until October 7) organised by Chennai Numismatic and Philatelic Society will give visitors a sneak peek into history through numismatic and philatelic collections from across the country. Coins from Indian princely states, British India and from different dynasties like Mughal, Vijayanagar and Chola, are on display.
City-based numismatist Ved Prakash, who took us around, said, “We have around 60 stalls and stamp and coin collectors from Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and many other cities have come down to showcase their collection. This is the most anticipated event as far as the collectors are concerned — they get to meet, discuss and share their priceless possessions.”
Ved collects banknotes during British India and post Independence issued under various Reserve Bank of India Governors.
There are stalls which display commemorative coins, miniature postal stamps, gold coins, smallest and biggest coins, Mahatma Gandhi stamps from various countries, stamps from the princely states and so on.
Numismatists (a person who studies or collects coins) build their collection based on a certain theme. “Most of us are thematic collectors and follow distinct patterns. Some collect fancy, error and misprint banknotes. A few are into collecting ootta annas, replacement serial collection, Re. 1 coins issued from 1800, etc.”
This is an annual event and the organisers wanted to educate the youngsters about the history as well. “Most of the coins and banknotes here were once used. As we move towards a cashless society, the next generation might not even recognise coins and currency notes anymore. With this exhibition, we are reintroducing our treasures to the public. To keep the spirit alive, all the active numismatists and philatelists meet once in a month and discuss their collection,” said Ved, who is also the vice president of the Chennai Numismatic and Philatelic Society.
Henry from Congo (Central Africa) visits exhibitions organised in India with his rare collections. “He is so keen to come for the exhibitions and is in touch with our society, sharing his knowledge about African currencies.”
During the 50s, the government printed notes for people who are going for Hajj. “Government issued notes via certain banks and the Hajj pilgrims are supposed to use those notes only while travelling,” he said and showed us the Hajj special notes.
Before leaving, we visited stalls that displayed pre-Independence 5000 rupee note, commemorative coins made for Thanjavur Brihadeshwara temple’s 1000th-year celebrations.