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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 10, March 8, 2009, Article 15

NUMISMATOURIST HOWARD BERLIN ON NUMISMATIC MUSEUMS

Howard Berlin submitted these thoughts on numismatic museums, which he has been visiting around the world. -Editor
I’d like to add my two euro cents on this topic from a different slant. Since my retirement, I have traveling around the world, chronicling my visits to museums that have coin exhibits in my “World Destinations” column for WorldWide. Wayne has dubbed me the “numismatourist.” I have been very fortunate to be able to travel, on my own dime mind you, while picking up loads of frequent flyer miles on British Airways. I am not independently wealthy and I have not been told that have only one year to live.

In the last five years I have crossed the Atlantic 50 times, visited almost 40 museums in 11 countries. The museums range from a virtual one man show such as Eric Newman’s money museum on the campus of Washington University (my alma mater) in St. Louis, city museums throughout Europe, to large museums like Berlin’s Bode Museum.

in 2008 alone, I visited the British Museum (for the umpteenth time), Monnaie de Paris, The Nationalmuseet-Royal Collection of Coins and Medals (Copenhagen), The National Museum-The Royal Coin Cabinet (Stockholm), Bank of Canada Currency Museum (Ottawa), Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Balzekas Lithuanian Museum (Chicago), National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh), HBOS on the Mound (Edinburgh), Hunterian Museum (Glasgow), Manchester Museum, and the Hamburg Museum. Eventually all these will be written about in future WorldWide Coins columns.

The purpose of my column is twofold. I realize that not everyone is able to travel extensively and independently as I do. So, I try to give my readers the experience of these museums they would otherwise never have the opportunity to visit. For those readers who might be visiting that particular city, the column makes them aware of the museum and its exhibits.

If it were not for these museums, I wouldn’t have a column to write, telling my readers about the treasures that are on display. Many of the city museums focus on the local history and integrate numismatics into their exhibits which, for me, adds a bit to the overall experience.

As a former exhibitor in ANA, national, regional, and local shows, I now personally like to examine the manner in which the coins and banknotes are mounted and displayed in museum exhibits. Also, I get to meet some pretty important people – museum directors and curators, often leaving with gifts of pamphlets and books.

Monaco Stamps and Coins Museum


I would like to ask a question of E-Sylum readers. I am considering writing a book, called, “The Numismatourist: A world-wide travel guide to the museums, mints, and other places of interest for the numismatist.” So far I have cataloged over 80 locations, such as museums and mints whose exhibitions or tours are open to the public in North and Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia. Private university collections are not included. Many of these I will have visited but for others, the information will be obtained from other sources.

I envision such a travel guide having a trim size around 5” x 8” which is small enough to be placed in a pocket, purse, or small travel bag. In addition. Each venue would fit on it own page and have at least one picture – that of the outside of the building, so the reader will have visual idea of what it looks like when looking for it. If there is a outstanding coin that is one of the “highlights” of its collection, it could be added to fill up any needed space with the text so that each venue has its own page.

The text would give a concise description of the venue and what the visitor would expect to see. It would also include information as to its address, telephone number(s), web site, and hours of operation. I would also like to include icon symbols representing features such whether or not the venue is handicapped accessible, photography is permitted, admission fee, or if multi-language audio-guides are available. If there is an admission fee, I would not specifically quote it (in the local currency) as it as it could be subject to change.

Like other authors have written here, one of the major numismatic publishers has “passed” on this idea, citing insufficient numbers, etc. I have written 31 books (all with noted publishers) and although I’m not crazy about self publishing/print on demand, I would consider it as a last resort. I would like any feedback from E-Sylum readers if you think you such a book is a worthy project (no commitment to buy anything). You can reach me at numismatourist@yahoo.com with any comments or suggestions.

I think such a book would be wonderful to have, even if one isn't planning a trip any time soon. I'll buy one! -Editor




Wayne Homren, Editor

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