Why am I still a numismatist and philatelist? (And why you should be one too)

Matthew Hanzel Avatar

I recall one historian once say that philately is one of the most despised hobbies ever. I might have laughed too when I first heard that, while only after that I realized I myself a philatelist. Not only that, I am also a numismatist, which I still consider to be a close relative to philately. Despised, eh?

Not quite. Actually, I still stick to the two above hobbies — while actually I stick more to the later than the former. Why? Because value matters for me.

The 1995 IDR50,000 banknote, depicting former President Soeharto

It is a conventional wisdom that as age progresses, both stamps and money (be it coins and banknotes) will be more valuable. For instance, I remember this banknote of IDR50,000 year 1995, which depicts the former President Soeharto as the “Father of Development”, which is quite a(n) (in)famous one. What valued nominally at IDR50,000 had tripled in about ten years — now, you need to spend about IDR150,000 to get one.

If you ask me why do I start collecting stamps, coins and banknotes, it all started with my family. The previous generations in my family are collectors (well, at least some of them). Some collect coins, some collect banknotes, some collect stamps, a little collect all. Apparently, I “inherit” some of the collections, and what I am doing now is “safeguarding” and expanding them. Indeed, I received so small and it has grown so much.

Sentimentally, I somehow love to see the three stuffs above. There are rare times when I take a look at the collection and try to guess the origin, the background, the story behind, that kind of thing. Some of my collection are actually beautiful (aesthetically), and are pleasant to be seen, so no wonder taking a look at them may bring some essence of satisfaction. For instance, it may be rarely known to you that there are coins with color — yes, not only in yellowy-gold or gray-silver, but in full color! I have items from Singapore and Austria in which there are portions of color reproduction within the metal-based coins. It is rare, and looking at them gives a sense of satisfaction in itself: you own some of those rarest items!

You may be considering whether you want to be a numismatist and philatelist today. I should say, try it! Be warned, though: you may have to spend some money (sometimes, a lot of money). Yet again, not only a matter of satisfaction, it is a kind of satisfaction in a respect: possess now and sell it in the future (of course, if you are not going to inherit them to your descendants, should I say!).

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