Numismatics: India

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Shyam Sundar Sadhnani, collector of coins

Shoeb Khan, A numismatic journey through history, Jan 2, 2017: The Times of India

A page from Shyam Sundar Sadhnani's album on 'Coins from British Raj'.; Shoeb Khan, A numismatic journey through history, Jan 2, 2017: The Times of India

Shyam Sundar Sadhnani arranging his collection of coins with his daughter-in laws at his house in Beawar.

BEAWAR (183 kms from Jaipur): A utensil seller in the busy Chang Gate market of industrial town Beawar, Shyam Sundar Sadhnani, may look like an ordinary trader until you see his collection of coins belonging to ancient, medieval and modern periods of both Indian and world history, collected over a span of 25 years. Having set a Limca Book record two year ago for collecting coins from all 193 countries listed in the UN list, Sadhnani has set another milestone by collecting 519 coins issued by the East India Company and British Empire.

Coins of 300 princely states in the country along with those from 134 countries that no longer exists from around the world are part of his personal collection. The list doesn't end here. His rare collection of 'Ancient/Medieval Indian Coins' starts with Kushans or Indo-Sasanians of the 3rd century and covers the period up to the Prithviraj era of 11th century. The latest rare coin comes from Brazil which has Rio Olympics inscribed in the front. These limited-edition coins were issued during the Olympics in 2016. His collection, which also includes coins from the 2nd century Wu Zhu Dynasty who ruled major parts of present-day China, is a rare treat for researchers, historians and those interested in numismatics.

While his 22 coins of one rupee value each, introduced by 22 Mughal emperors between 1526 and 1836, denotes the swing in the Mughal rule, the British-era coins, starting from one penny in 1803 to the last coin in 1937, is a numismatic journey into the British rule in the country.

A collection of erstwhile princely states is close to his heart. He explains that each coin indicates how the country is rich in metallurgical science. The gold coin with an image of bird from Coorg, copper coins from Datia, Eliechpur, Dhar, Dewas, Jaipur, Jawad (Gwalior), etc. are part of his collection. These coins, which depict lions, tigers, horses, peacocks, various languages, agriculture etc., provide a wide range of information of that period. TOI caught up with him in Beawar on Monday when he received a copper coin from Pune of an African country which merged with Kenya.

Sadhnani's interest in coins began 25 years ago when some customers gave him old coins for utensils. This turned into a hobby after he collected 20 old coins. "I started thinking about these coins day and night. I would ask everyone about information regarding coins. For making this collection of 5,000 coins, I have travelled to almost every corner of the entire country," said Sadhnani. He is estimated to have spent around Rs 25 lakh on these coins. Initially, nobody in Sadhnani's joint family liked the idea, but now everybody supports him. His two daughters-in-law — Anu Sadhnani and Nisha Sadhnani — have become his support system who helps to preserve, package and, most importantly, do research on these coins. Unaware of its importance, Sadhnani has never taken them out of his house. The only time the albums leave his bedroom is when a relative or friend visits his house. The idea of applying to the Limca Book of Records was also suggested to him by his daughters-in-law. Sadhnani will turn 51 soon and is planning to work for a couple of years before involving full time in his hobby.

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