At the Baltimore Expo earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Alexander, who writes some great articles on Coin Update. While in London recently he caught up with our mutual friend Howard Berlin for an interview, published November 13, 2014. Be sure to read the complete article online - here's an excerpt. –Editor
Hello Howard, its great to catch up with you in the midst of your travels, I know you just traveled from the Baltics, one of my favorite places
– where you visited Lithuania & Estonia, was this visit in connection with your latest publication or just for pleasure..?
of both. My maternal grandfather emigrated from a small town in Lithuania to the U.S. and both Lithuania and Estonia were countries that I hadn’t
been to, despite having now been to 56 countries. On the “business” side, I had written about both the Money Museum of the Bank of Lithuania in
Vilnius and the Bank of Estonia Museum in Tallinn based on information and pictures supplied by these museums. It was one thing to write about
something from never having been there, so I wanted to have the experience of seeing these museums and personally thank the individuals for their
invaluable assistance. As it turned out, contacts at these museums provided other local venues and names of individuals at museums also having
numismatic items on display. Visiting these provided information and pictures for hopefully a second volume of The Numismatourist book.
Speaking of your latest publication The Numismatourist I have to tell you its one of the best books I’ve read recently, I couldn’t put
it down as it blends three of my favorite subjects coins, banknotes, and travel. This has certainly been a real labor of love but how did you come up
with this great concept of meshing the two in such a well-done publication..?
Thank you for your kind words, coming from who has also visited and written about museums. Originally in 2009, I had written a two-page bi-monthly
column, “World Destinations,” in WorldWide Coins, a sister publication of the weekly Coin World newspaper here in the U.S. I wrote
about various museums I had visited. The column was well received as I was fortunate to have won the “Best Column for World Commercial Numismatic
Magazines” category for two consecutive years by the Numismatic Literary Guild before the magazine ceased publication after a three-year run.
Since I still had lots of unpublished material about museums I had visited, the idea occurred to me that this information, if done properly, could
be an interesting and unique topic for a sort of travel book. Plus, there was nothing out there like it. Many of the hobbyists and dealers travel a
bit, and what better way would be to visit a museum, mint, or central bank during their trip? As for me, I love to travel, write, and I used to have
a significant collection of coins and banknotes which I competitively exhibited and won a fair amount of “Best of Show” prizes. This type of book
just seemed a natural extension of some of my interests.
The book is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Richard Doty, who was the Senior Numismatic Curator at the Smithsonian Institute and who sadly
passed away last year & is greatly missed, how important do you think it is for any country to maintain a national collection of coins and
banknotes – what does it “say” about a country and how they record history…?
The answer is best represented by the introductory paragraph of my book’s preface. To quote: “I feel that a country’s history is perhaps best
exhibited by the evolution of its money, which both represents an intrinsic component of its heritage and mirrors its socioeconomic history. Also,
the national legal tender is considered one of the leading symbols of that country’s identity and autonomy. What better way to educate the public
about its monetary heritage than that of showcasing its numismatic treasures in an exhibition in a museum, the nation’s central bank, or a mint?”
What’s your next topic or project – you seem to be someone who is unstoppable & doesn’t sit around for long – do you think there is a
second edition of this wonderful book in the future..?
I’m not getting any younger and am a few steps slower than last year, so I wouldn’t say I am “unstoppable,” and I don’t have museum “bucket list.”
However if the book is successful, I hope the publisher would be inclined to allow me to write a second volume. In the meanwhile I have two
non-numismatic book projects in various stages of gathering information. One is a specialized travel/history book about Berlin, where I visit several
times a year. Another one is about Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa and the 14 Stations of the Cross.
Howard Berlin, author-extraordinaire and habitual numisma-tourist, thank you very much for your time today.
Michael, it was my pleasure.
The Numismatourist: The Only Worldwide Travel Guide to Museums, Mints, and
Other Places of Interest for the Numismatist is available by visiting the book’s own website at: http://www.numismatourist.com/
Zyrus Press – Irvine, California
To read the complete article, see:
Interview with “The Numismatourist” Howard M. Berlin
Wayne Homren, Editor
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