The Financial Express

Numismatics: More than a hobby

Amalendra Saha Amalendra Saha

Drug addiction, terrorism, militancy, mental depression and other immoral activities, especially committed by children and youths, are the burning problems facing the world now. In addition, loneliness of children and youths has become a serious problem due to the single-family concept. Governments of all countries have been trying in many ways and spending lots of money to make children and youths free of these problems. But unfortunately they are yet to succeed optimally.

The 78-year-old Amalendra Saha, a numismatist by chance, who is a conservator of forest (retired), believes that one of the most effective and fruitful steps and action plan might be the creation of interest in the mind of the children and youths through the 'Hobby Movement'.

Mr Saha has already been able to collect different sorts of rare coin, paper money and other collectible, which belong to 193 countries and different past regimes, as he turned his accidental interest into a great hobby in 21 years and made himself possibly the world's one of top coin collectors in terms of categories of coin impression.

Numismatic collection gives us the remains of the forgotten kingdoms of the kings and rulers of ancient and mediaeval periods and expresses the culture, tradition, customs and history of a community, regime and country, Mr Saha said.

He also said that he had a very rare collection of 23 categories of coin from across the globe and 23 other themes or impressions of coins.

Mr Saha was working as a project director of the Ministry of Water Resources in 1998. One day he visited the then forest conservator Mr. Junaid Kabir Chowdhury at the forest conservator's office in Chattogram region and saw a metal coin of Turkey on the table during a conversation. After that he took the coin from Mr Chowdhury. At that time, it came to his mind that coin collecting could be a good hobby.

People, e specially a section of youths, are becoming derailed as their life lacks a hobby like coin collecting, he said.

Coin collecting, also called numismatics and other collectibles, should be one of their hobbies that can protect them from going astray and refrain from all types of immoral activities.

Ancient and old coins reveal and speak of the past history and culture, said Mr Saha, also founder president of Bangladesh Numismatic Collectors Society (BNCS).

To conserve and preserve the history and culture, to facilitate research work on numismatics and to speed up and strengthen the numismatic collection, Mr. Amalendra took ab initiative to form an effective organisation uniting the numismatic collectors of the country.

Keeping this view in mind, a meeting of the numismatic collectors was held on December 12, 2008 and BNCS was formed on the day. The BNCS got registration from the government on October 27, 2009.

Besides arranging meetings or discussions over coin/paper note collection and meeting other necessity for numismatic auctions, the association organises numismatic exhibitions time to time. Any interested person is most welcome to join their family.

Also, the association will highly appreciate any suggestion, recommendation or comment to support the endeavour to cultivate the hobby among the people across the country.

During an interview with this correspondent, Mr Saha said bobby is an activity which provides amusement and recreation to all. There are some hobbies which are educative.

A hobbyist would rarely be addicted to drug, unlikely to be involved in terrorist activity, hardly to commit any illegal activity and seldom suffer from loneliness and mental depression which ultimately leads to suicidal tendency, he said.

In this modern world in most of the cases single family and single parent children and elderly people suffer from loneliness and mental depression. Hobby is the best friend and companion to them. So he requested all to adopt any hobby and let kids to do the same.

He dreams of a day when " National Hobby Day " would be proclaimed by the governments of all countries across the world and " World Hobby Day " would be declared and a day would be marked for celebration by the UN to inspire people to adopt a hobby which would bring peace and well-being for the mankind.

With that end in view he has been trying to build up a "Hobby Movement" in the country with an intention to spread the idea to the whole world, Mr Saha said.

He hoped that everybody would support his efforts for the betterment of the future world and join this movement.

"There are many hobbies which are educative like book reading, coin collection, stamp collection, travelling and so on. Coins and stamps express the culture and lifestyle and means of living of the people of a country. From a foreign coin or stamp one can learn location and other information of a country. An old coin can reveal a new history", he said.

"It is said that an old and ancient coin is an authentic document of history", he said. So he also urged the appropriate authorities to take necessary steps so that 'World Hobby Day' is declared by the United Nation (UN).

His collections include rarities of many early and mediaeval Islamic Sultanates. The dynasties include Spanish Umayyad, Syria Umayyad, Abbasi, Ghaznavi (Afghanistan), Mardin Urtukid, Ilkhanian (Mongolian) of Persia and so on.

He has collected coins from about 50 territories and dependencies, including currencies of 11 disputed regions. He possesses as many as 160 coins from 60-70 countries which became independent for a shorter period only to disappear from the world map as countries.

Coins of 15 Sultans, belonging to various Islamic tribes or rulers from Mamluk, Khilji, Tughlaq or Lodi clans are also in his possession.

He has 75 coins of 17 Mughal emperors to his credit. He also possesses coins of 36 Bengal kings.

Mr Saha has coins with impressions of animals, aquatic animals, flowers, fruits, vegetables, grains, trees or shrubs, pierced, bi- or tri-metal coins, many of them geometric in shape, and such.

More than 60 coins have been collected on international sports. He has a collection of commemorative coins on sporting extravaganzas like World Cup Football, Asian Games and ASEAN Games. He is the proud possessor of all Olympic commemorative coins.

Some coins in his possession were released by different countries during the 1971 liberation war.

His collection includes over 70 coins of the different periods of various Muslim sultans or rulers.

As many as 210 coins of Wari-Bateshwar and Chandraketugarh (Punch Mark) dating back to about 2,500 years ago and Harappa-Mohenjodaro (Bent Mark) in the Mauryan period are in his collection.

He also owns 50 coins of the ancient and medieval Indian royal families and kingdoms such as Bacteria, Indo-Greek kingdom, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Sassanian.

Coins of all types and denomination of the East India Company to British royal families during the British period are in his collection. He also collected 70 coins of 38 princely states of the British period. Commemorative coins released by the government and unusual coins by private initiatives are also in his collection. His collection also contains 1,500 paper currencies from more than 200 countries.

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