CHENNAI: Have you seen the Petronas Twin Towers made with old coins? Or the Leaning Tower of Pisa made with a stack of old aluminum 10 Paisa coins? S Hunsuldeen of Saligramam hasn’t just seen the creations, he has made them come alive. Among the hundreds of coin collectors in Chennai, Hunsul, a mechanic, coin collector and miniature coin-building maker, stands apart.
“My love for coins began when I was a teenager. I used to watch my father Sheik Udman collect coins in a glass jar. That inspired me, and I started pursuing it as a hobby,” says the 50-year-old.
After almost 37 years of coin collecting, what are his most prized possessions? There is a sense of accomplishment in his tone when he says, “I have coins that date back to the Raja Raja Chola era, Mughal era and Modern India.” He shows us his collection of coins released during the rule of Tipu Sultan, Akbar and Shah Jahan. “Recently I collected 100-rupee coins from 1959. Till today, I have over 89 sets of 100-rupee coins,” he shares.
So why did he start making miniature buildings with coins? “Many people collect coins but I wanted to do something unique. I asked my children to browse the net and check if there were people who made miniature buildings out of coins. There weren’t many,” he says. He started out building the world cup and then moved on to making the Petronas Twin Towers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and local monuments like the Anna Tower, Gandhi Mandapam, and Ashok Pillar.
Working at the garage all day leaves him with only the nights for his hobby. “Making buildings takes a minimum of six months to a year, and I only have time at night,” he says. His children help him identify famous buildings through the internet. He then analyses their dimensions and angles through pictures and starts working on them.
Hunsuldeen may own a range of Indian and foreign currencies but he says that the recently introduced one-rupee note is his favourite. “The production of one-rupee note was stopped in 1994 and the note made a re-entry in 2015. It makes me feel nostalgic because they are like a timestamp,” he says.
Does this coin-architect have a larger dream? “I want to build the Seven Wonders of the World, and create a Guinness world record,” he smiles. He is currently working on a structure of the Taj Mahal.