HYDERABAD: In an era where digital payment is increasingly replacing physical money, Harikrishnan Valmiki, a numismatologist and travel professional based in Secunderabad, emphasises the importance of preserving and cherishing coinage as we approach the last days of coins.
Over the past 35 years, Harikrishnan has amassed a collection of coins and currencies from over 100 countries. What began with 300 coins gifted by his father as a reward for scoring well in his tenth grade has now grown to 3000 coins. Among his collection are rare punch-marked coins from the 4th Century BC of the Magadha Mourya, which are 2500 years old, the world’s first Pyramid coin, a unique `1,000 note issued by the Reserve Bank on April 1st, 1954, and an Indian one-rupee note printed in 1954, along with polymer currencies from various countries.
Harikrishnan explains the origins of his collection, saying, “Coming from Anantapur, I started guiding foreign devotees visiting Puttaparthi Sri Sathya Sai Baba during my 6th grade. After their trips, impressed by my services, they would give me their currency notes or coins.”
“In those days, when there was no internet or chat facilities, my father and I would write letters to foreign strangers through the ‘Kalam Sneham’ airmail system arranged by Vishalandhra.”
“It would take at least a month for the back-and-forth of letters, and by my 12th grade, I had made 32 friends from different countries like Romania, Greece, Indonesia, among others, who would send their currency notes and coins like Peso, Dollars, Euros, while I sent them our Rupees.”
He adds: “Without even visiting any country, I was able to collect coins through pen friends and devotees. Later, after joining the travel and tourism industry, I travelled to 72 countries and would search for old coin stores to add to my collection.”
Every philatelist (stamp collector) or numismatologist must choose a particular theme for their collection. Harikrishnan chose ‘Tourism’ as his theme, showcasing currency with pictures of important monuments, historical structures, and national sites.
Through his exhibitions, he has educated over 1,000 students and conducted 50 solo exhibitions. On the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Club in 2015, he displayed his collection on the world’s largest table of the Nizam rulers at Taj Falaknuma.
“The touch and feel of the coins is irreplaceable. Each coin carries symbols and significance, representing the historical, socio-economic, and cultural traditions of the communities living in the country. By learning about and examining these currencies, students can gain valuable knowledge,” he added.