Rare UAE coins, stamps dating back to 1850s: Meet Indian expat with mind-blowing collection

The 45-year-old also has 41 different one-dirham commemorative coins and all UAE postal stamps issued till date



By Nasreen Abdulla, Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 3 Dec 2022, 2:41 PM

Last updated: Sun 4 Dec 2022, 5:16 PM

Abu-Dhabi based Indian collector’s treasure trove includes rare stamps, coins, postcards and more. Among these, Imtiaz Qureshi has postal stamps issued by India, which was used by Pakistan post-independence in 1947.

“There was a time when Pakistan hadn’t issued its own stamps and used Indian stamps. Indian stamps were overprinted as ‘Pakistan’ and then shipped there,” he said. “Most stamps in my collection have been issued in the 1850s and early 1990s.”

An avid collector, Qureshi has 41 different one-dirham commemorative coins and all UAE postal stamps issued till date. His stamp collection includes those from 13 Indian princely states, first issue of August 15, 1947, Independence day, 3-paisa and half anna (currency unit formerly used in British India) stamps used in Pakistan post-partition, one-rupee King George VI, first-day covers and more. In addition to that, the 45-year-old has dozens of memorabilia from Expo 2020.

Celebrating National Day

Every UAE National Day, Qureshi fashions a special gift for the country he has been living in for almost two decades. Last year he created a portrait of the country’s founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, using 2,000 coins from India and the UAE. This year the Indian expat created a portrait of the national flag, decorated with commemorative coins from his collection.

While the 51 is written with old one-dirham coins, the alphabets ‘UAE’ are spelt out with commemorative one-dirham coins that have the portrait of Sheikh Zayed. The border of the portrait has been made up by Rs5 coin from India.

“This is my token of appreciation for the wise leadership for building such an amazing nation,” he said.

Qureshi spends a great deal of time arranging his collection according to a system.

“Whenever I get time, I sit for a few hours and carefully arrange what I collected,” he said while showing his vast collection preserved carefully at his flat on Electra Street.

“I usually like to put them in my album according to how old they are.”

Collecting since the age of 12

For Qureshi, it was a gift from his grandfather that set him off on the route of collecting.

“My grandpa was a collector and had a wide variety of stamps and coins. When I was 12 years old, he gave away several of his albums. I received one which was from 1949.”

The gift set him off on a lifetime of collection that has spanned over three decades now. His collection of stamps comprises a whole gamut of shapes, sizes and types of stamps made of wood and leather from Spain, toilet tissue, mask, tennis ball, seed of ghaf tree, khadi, embroidery, bitcoin, 3D, crypto with QR codes, metal and perfumed ones. He also has some extremely rare coins.

“I have two 10th century coins of the Chola kingdom. One was given to me by my grandfather and another I procured from my friend. These coins are the most unique coins in my collection.”

One of his prized collections is that of Expo 2020 Dubai passports.

“I have stamps from all 192 countries on the yellow and white passports,” he said proudly showing his 13 white passports, which a person gets after having 100 stamps in their yellow passport.

“I have passports with more than 100 special stamps that include special events, organisations and entities. I also have a philatelic passport with stamps from Stamp Expo participating countries and expo passports of Ethiopia, Angola, China and Cuba.”

A member of the Emirates Philatelic Association, Qureshi now focuses exclusively on Indian and UAE stamps, joint issue stamps and special stamps.

Living in the UAE with his wife Gazna and kids, Ishaan, Ayaan and Imaan, he hopes that he will be able to pass on to his children as well.

“My elder son has some interest in collecting items. I hope that someday I am able to pass on my collections to my children,” he added.

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