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Indian collector seeks to open largest coin museum in UAE

Bernd Debusmann Jr. (Chief Reporter)/Dubai Filed on July 5, 2017
Indian collector seeks to open largest coin museum in UAE
Manish Dhameja holds several records, including the Guinness record, for his collection of bi-metallic coins

In 25 years, Manish Dhameja has amassed a personal collection of over one million coins from 501 current and defunct nations, territories and islands

A prolific Indian coin collector - dubbed the "King of Coins" - has announced his intention to open the world's largest coin museum in the UAE.

Over the course of the last 25 years, 30-year old Lucknow native Manish Dhameja has amassed a personal collection of over one million coins from 501 current and defunct nations, territories and islands, some dating as far back as the 16th century. Collectively, the coins are valued at well over $1 million.

Dhameja has entered several record books, including the Guinness Book of World Records, for his collection of bi-metallic coins (which are comprised of more than one metal).

Now, he wants to bring his collection to the UAE, and on June 16th filed a project proposal to the UAE's Embassy in New Delhi. He hopes the new museum will become an attractive option for residents and tourists alike.

"I believe that the UAE is the best place for me to fulfill my dream," he told Khaleej Times.

According to Dhameja, his interest in coins began at the tender age of five. "It was just because of my great grandfather and father that I also started developing (an) interest in coins," he said.

"My father had a piggy bank full of coins, which he got from my great grandfather.I was just a tiny tot when I saw my dad collecting coins in that piggy bank. Coins were something like a treasure to me," he added.

Driven by curiosity, the young Manish says he smashed open the piggy bank, and made off with the coins.

"I was scared of a scolding, so I kept (the coins) hidden in a storeroom. After a few days, we were given an activity in school in which we were asked to make something out of waste material," he recalls.

"When I presented these coins in my craft file, it was appreciated by my school teachers and friends and I won a "Best Hobby" award. That was beginning of my hobby and interest in coins."

Dhameja said that he is particularly interested in coins because of their longevity, and constantly increasing value.

"Coins are one of the most important sources of information from which archaeologists and historians can try to interpret the past," he said. "The value of old coins increases day by day. It is because they are hard-wearing and survive in large numbers for years and years."

"If we have paper money, and our house burns down, we lose everything," he added. "If we have coins and our house burns down, we won't lose any money."


Hobby comes in handy during note ban

In November 2016, Dhameja said the hobby he passionately pursued came particularly in handy, with the sudden demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.

"(The) notes became paper and of no use. New notes of Rs500 were distributed by banks from November 10 onwards, but (it was) not allowed to collect coins or take more than Rs4,000 per person," he said. "I was the only person who had the maximum (allowed) cash in coins on that day."

"I have so many Indian coins that I can survive for five years," he added.


Notable coins in his collection

Most valuable coin > 16th century 100gm gold coin from the Delhi Sultanate, valued around $40,000.

Largest coin > 5.4cm in diameter from the Republic of Palau

Heaviest coin > 60gm coin from the reign of Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor in India


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Originally from Mexico City, I've been in Dubai since January 2015. Before arriving in in the UAE I worked as a general news reporter in TV and print in Mexico City, NYC and Washington DC. I'm interested in defence issues, politics, technology, aviation and history. In my spare time i enjoy traveling and football - I'm a keen fan of Chelsea FC. I developed an interest in the Middle East traveling through Jordan and the West Bank. I have a BA in Political Science from Dickinson College in the USA and an MA in International Journalism from City University London.

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