E-Sylum reader Tom Babinszki is blind and publishes the Blind Coin Collector blog. I missed this November 13, 2016 post about his visit to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian. Here's an excerpt.
Emily Pearce Seigerman told us all about the exhibit, and gave us a behind the scenes introduction to an educational program in the storage vault. Well, us, because I brought a friend with me.
Since this is a rambling blog anyway, he is certainly worth a few words. I met Brandon online a couple of years ago when I joined the World Numismatic Internet Society, at that time he was the news letter editor, which I have inherited from him as of this year. Over the last few months, we exchanged coins and ideas with Brandon, ok, let’s be honest, mostly he sent me great stuff. Since I knew that he lived in the area, I thought it would be a great idea to meet in person for the first time, and what else to do than visit a numismatic exhibit. It is because of Brandon that this time I have decent pictures to post.
Emily had a number of things lined up for us. It was interesting to find out that it is a hands-on exhibit, offered to the public on designated days, and it is meant to be touched.
As a collector, I think I know enough about money, so it was even more impressive that I have not touched any of the objects before which Emily showed me.
We started with replicas of old Greek coins, then an enlarged version of the Athenian owl. This was fantastic, I had no idea what it looks like or feels like, this replica gave me a great idea. It was about as big as a plate, so even the small details can be felt.
Another similar experience was a 3d printed version of a Euro coin, much larger than the original, about 5 inches diameter. It was interesting to feel a coin, currently in use and have a sense of what it is like. The coin itself is hard to figure out, I can recognize the number one on it, but the rest is too small to touch.
After I had a chance to go through the money exhibit, we went to another room which was full of numismatic books and magazines. It was both exciting and humbling. What did I get out of it? If I say nothing or not much that is farthest from the truth, even though I didn’t really get to flip through the books. I took one book and scanned a page with my phone, I got a very readable page. But the most important thing here was just to be able to touch all these books. The smell and touch of books is always exciting to me. And the fact that this is very achievable to just ask for an appointment, come in, and be able to scan and read any of the books. Of course, it would take me much much longer just to read a few articles, but I wouldn’t mind to spend a few afternoons there. There are many books in other languages, which may even help me with my current research.
Here I would like to thank the entire staff of the National Numismatic Collection to make this tour available, and for spending the time to show it to me and answer all the questions. You are doing an outstanding and unique work, please continue this program, it is truly special for blind people.
To read the complete article, see:
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian
Wayne Homren, Editor
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