Ken Berger submitted this article about Philippine numismatics specialist CM Nielsen. Thanks! -Editor
CM Nielsen - Philippine Collector Extraordinaire
Conrad Mower Nielsen (18 March 1922 - 10 August 2008) was an expert in the field of Philippine numismatics, especially emergency war ("guerrilla") notes. He was better known as CM
Nielsen or simply Niel. During his lifetime, he amassed what was possibly the largest private collection in the world. Only the notes held by Museo Sugbu (Cebu Provincial Museum) in the Philippines
is believed to be a larger collection.
He was born in Fairview, Utah, and was the youngest of five sons of Carl and Inger Hansen Nielsen. His mother passed away just 12 days after his birth. He enlisted in the civilian pilot training
unit of the air corps in December, 1942, at Santa Ana air base, California. He was discharged in 1943, and immediately enlisted in the Merchant Marine. He was awarded the Pacific War Zone Bar,
Atlantic War Zone Bar, Mediterranean Middle East War Zone Bar, Philippine Liberation Ribbon and, years later, the Vietnam Service Bar.
His first numismatic experience was acquiring some "guerrilla" paper money when dropping off supplies from his ship somewhere in the Philippines. Since his ship was frequently in the
Philippines, he was able to acquire many pieces and examples of this "guerrilla" money.
He had a secret hiding place, for all his notes and other materials, which was under his house. He had dug out a bunker-like room under one of the bedrooms; in order to enter it, you had to lift
up the floor in a closet, go down a ladder and then walk into the closed room. All of the walls were lined with shelves and the boxes were FULL of notes from everywhere in the world, especially
during WWII. But most were Philippine guerrilla notes. If he had dumped it on the market, many notes would have lost a lot of value in other collections!
1941 One Peso Philippine National Bank Emergency Circulating Note
From his research, he wrote the Philippine section in Krause's Standard Catalog of World Paper Money/Specialized Issues in the early 1980's. Unfortunately, he was an exacting and
somewhat secretive individual when it came to research and only published a few articles. So, today, much of it remains unpublished and, with his death, is lost forever. Ken Berger, with help from
Neil Shafer, Ray Czahor, and Jimmie Steelman, has been attempting to salvage just one small aspect of his research. Luckily, this is possible because right before his passing, his entire collection
of war notes, coins, stamps, books and research material was acquired by Ray Czahor of Cookie Jar Collectibles.
1941 One Peso Philippine National Bank Emergency Circulating Note (back)
with an Abuyog, Leyte counterstamp
Thanks to Howard Daniel for providing the above photo of C.M. Nielsen. I am still looking for other photos - please let me know if you have one or know where I might find one.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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