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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 18, May 4, 2008, Article 25

VIETNAMESE NUMISMATIST PROFILED

[An E-Sylum reader forwarded this extensive article from
a Vietnamese newspaper about local collectors of Vietnamese
coins and paper money.  -Editor]

In a silent house in Giap Nhat, a village in Ha Noi’s Thanh
Xuan District, a white-haired octogenarian pores over his
set of ancient coins with a magnifying glass.

He is Nguyen Ba Dam, 86, locally known as "Mr Ancient Money"
for his extensive collection of Vietnamese currency. In more
than 70 years of collecting, he has accumulated over 400
kinds of ancient Vietnamese money, as well as currency from
more than 150 countries.

[Not surprisingly, Howard Daniel adds: "I met him once and
should go see him the next time I am in Viet Nam at the end
of this year!" -Editor]

His oldest coin is a Thai Binh Hung Bao coin issued in 968
during the Dinh dynasty, recognised by researchers as the
oldest Vietnamese coin.

As he painstakingly prepares a pot of tea, Dam describes the
three-quarters of a century he has spent collecting money,
beginning when he was eight years old.

In 1960, he began connecting with like-minded hobbyists
through an international association of stamp and money
collectors, which allowed him to enrich his collection with
ancient Chinese coins dating from the Qin to the Qing dynasties.

In 1976, Dam spent VND100,000 – a veritable fortune at the
time – to buy a treasure trove of ancient money from Nguyen
Dinh Duong, a famous antique dealer on Hang Bong Street.

A collector must also be a researcher, Dam says.

"Money is not only for buying and exchanging in the business
world; it also reflects history, including power struggles and
technological development, and can serve as the hallmark of
an era or a royal dynasty," he says. "Therefore, the collector
must have vast knowledge and understanding of history and
culture and a passion for such studies."

A former history teacher, Dam has considerable knowledge
of ancient Chinese scripts, which has enriched his study
of ancient coins. But Dam believes that what makes him a
true collector is his personal attachment to the coins and
the stories they tell.

"A collector must ‘feel’ the coins, comparing and classifying
them, to recognise their real value. Only then can the collector
see all the interesting and beautiful aspects of ancient money."

Professor Do Van Ninh from the Institute of Historical Studies,
who has written many books on ancient money, appreciates
collectors for serving a national need.

"Thanks to them, the nation can preserve some of its historical
and cultural treasures," Ninh says. "They collect money for
preservation; they aren’t just dealers, thinking only of profits."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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