A Little Thing Called Numismatics

My wife calls me a hoarder and she means that in the nicest possible way. After all, she married me ; warts and all.

Stamps potraying some of the wildlife available in Malaysia (source : filatelic.com)

In all seriousness, I am one of those people who have what they call hobbies. Pretty old school that. But then again, folks of my generation grew up with them, introduced by either our parents or the circle of friends that we belong to.

Along the way, many, due to work commitments or the demands of raising a family, stopped pursuing their hobbies, only to maybe pick it up again at a latter stage of their lives.

Some, like me, maintained their interest throughout in whatever hobbies that they profess to having and would by now, have a healthy respect for their hobbies.

But what is a hobby? According to Oxford Dictionaries, a hobby is an activity regularly done in one’s leisure time for pleasure.

A sample of a West German stamp (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

By that definition, I will therefore admit to having hobbies, with leisure time few and far in-between. That said, in pursuit of my hobbies, it means that I do collect ‘stuff’, devote whatever leisure time I can to my hobbies, and on some occasions, even spend money to maintain and keep my ‘stuff’ in an orderly manner.

I have previously posted on my love for stamp collecting or to use its technical term, philately . I know, stamps right. Who sends mail by the normal post anyway? Does the post office even sells stamps anymore?

Furthermore, it sounds like a bore and to top it all, the postal service may even be dying industry due to the rapid developments in technology (emails, social media etc), as well as the many enhancements and advancements in the delivery services industry.

But despite the postal industry’s dismal outlook, there are still many philatelic enthusiasts the world over as evidenced by the many societies and organizations catering to stamp collectors world wide.

I guess, the field of philately is what they would call, an acquired taste. Not everybody and anybody would go for it.

Lata Mengkuan Waterfalls (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

The same thing with another hobby of mine, of which I had also posted before : collecting telephone cards. Believe it or not but its true. Well, with the introduction of the mobile phone, I can practically say goodbye to any thoughts of expanding the collection. But you never know.

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Now I know, having hobbies such as the aforementioned risk being described by the young as really old school and boring. Call it what you will : old school, boring etc etc but for me, its quietly satisfying and fulfilling and to a degree, offers you a slight distraction from your daily routine.

The pre-Euro French Franc and the Belgian Frank. Both have been withdrawn and are no more in circulation. (Images by Shah Said 2020 ; @ all rights reserved)

The joy of completing a set of stamps especially when the set that you have lacks just that one piece. And I have many of those and its so frustrating.

Or even coming across a really old pre-Merdeka stamp while browsing at street corner stalls specialising in stamps in …….Amsterdam. But then again, they do say that Amsterdam is the place to be, as far as stamp collectors are concerned. In Europe anyway. So they said.

The pre-Euro Irish Pfund. (Images by Shah Said 2020 ; @ all rights reserved)

Its the same kind of joy experienced by collectors of Panini football cards back in the 70s and 80s. There is always that one card that is so difficult to get hold of, and when you get hold of that one elusive card, either by purchase or by chance or by exchange or a combination of the three, the feeling is indescribable.

Throughtout my student days and later, working life, I have been lucky enough to travel to places I can only dream of travelling to. In the process, I meet people of different countries and as is the norm, would exchange gifts with one another.

It was during this exchanging of gifts, whether consciously or unconsciously, I had developed a habit of exchanging money notes, normally of small denominations, and started collecting currencies of different countries.

The evolution of the Malaysian Ringgit RM1 from the earliest paper-based designs (top two) to the current plastic-based design (see bottom). (Images by Shah Said 2020 ; @ all rights reserved)

Some of the currencies due to me as per diem or travelling expenses, I used as per its stated purpose : currencies like the US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, and Japanese Yen to name but a few. To have kept them indefinitely especially the large denomination notes would have been uncalled for.

After all, I was not born with a silver spoon. Last time I checked, that is still the case. Unfortunately. But the loose change, that’s another story.

The Philippine Peso and the Korean Won, circa the 1980s. (Images from Shah Said 2020 ; @ all rights reserved)

Amongst the European currencies that have pride of place with me are the Irish Pfund, the French Franc and the Belgian Frank. But I could have sworn that I had Dutch Guilders, Luxemburgsiche Franc and the German Mark as well, but for the life of me, I can’t seem to find them. My only worry is that they may have been discovered by my sons when they were little.

As I recalled, we played a lot of board games when they were little. A sort of family bonding activity. Chess, draughts, Scrabble and yes, Monopoly as well. So your guess is as good as mine.

Why the pride of place, you might ask? Well, they have all been withdrawn from circulation once the European Union went Euro. It would not be surprising if the scarcity in finding any of these notes nowadays may lead to it being being back in demand, not for economic purposes but more as collector’s items.

The Thai Baht. There are two 100 Baht notes, at the very top and at bottom, each of different designs. (Images by Shah Said 2020 ; @ all rights reserved)

Another that takes pride of place are the Asian currencies, of which I do not have many. The Saudi Riyal, the Korean Won, the Thai Baht, the Vietnamese Dong and the Philippine Peso and of course, the Malaysian Ringgit.

Come to think of it, all of them take pride of place, as far as I am concerned. Each note has its own story, even that one solitary 1 Guarani note from Paraguay, and it too takes its pride of place with me.

Whether all these currencies will still be in circulation in years to come is subject for speculation and careful consideration. Anything is possible and admittedly, it is an interesting topic for discussion.

The Saudi Riyal. Note the top two, both of which are SDR 1 but of different designs, depicting the reigning monarch of the time. (Images by Shah Said 2020 ; @ all rights reserved)

Will the whole world agree to the use of a single currency? And if so, whose currency? Or will it be a new currency? And whats the basis of the currency? Gold holdings? Size of Economy?

Or will it go the way the way of the Euro, with individual regional groupings having their own single currency? Will individual countries be allowed to use their own currency as the arrangement between the European Union had with the United Kingdom?

So many questions, and so many possibilities. And people thought it was just a boring old hobby.

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