Necessity is the Mother of all invention. I experienced the truth in this adage when I was forced to launch a new institution in the aftermath of losing a prestigious university position in June 2014 in view of no new jobs on the horizon in the rarefied field of Numismatics!
Today, CENNUMIS is a two-and-a- half-year old institution which though doesn't have its own premises, is always on the move and open to new experiences in conducting courses on Indian Numismatics.
I have been particularly blessed to have an experience of a better part of the last decade in teaching Numismatics with lectures, specialised sessions, etc. in various parts of the country on various fora.
However, CENNUMIS has been a special forum as we decided to give it a distinct USP of having an actual collection of 'teaching coin specimens' for all its courses with the idea of imparting an authentic experience for the audience.
The only problem was that I did not possess any coins to begin with as I was a numismatic researcher and not a collector. However, we worked around the problem by purchasing actual coins from coin dealers in the beginning, then coin auctions always trying to procure the best specimen from the viewpoint of the student.
Beginning our journey in August 2014, we had our first course called 'Primer Workshop in Numismatics' at a well-wisher's office in Central Mumbai.
The success of the Workshop (it was full to my surprise!) gave me the confidence to invest more into coins and soon organize a specialized Workshop on the Arabic-Persian Script as seen on Indian Coins in January-February 2015. It was not my first experience at teaching the script but I improvised on my earlier experience by teaching it from the viewpoint of a collector who wanted to decipher a Mughal coin for his own sake. Thus, we did away with the formal teaching by an Arabic teacher and taught each letter as it appeared on Indian coins from Day One.
Needless to say, the Workshop had its own challenges as it was to teach others the difficult script. We took 4-5 sessions of 4 hours each (a week apart) to give the participants time to practice the script and its variant forms.
The results were amazing as most of the participants who diligently practiced the script learnt it quite well. We also encouraged the participants to make eye copies of important coins during surprise tests conducted during the Workshop. This boosted many a participant's confidence as it led them to know that the script was not as alien and out-of-reach as they had imagined. Thus, CENNUMIS has conducted 3 Arabic-Persian Script Workshops and 4 Primer Workshops and numerous 'Introduction to Numismatics' Workshops all over the country. During our courses, we also take students and participants to actual coin galleries (especially in Mumbai and New Delhi where the RBI Museum and the National Museum have fantastic Numismatic Galleries.
CENNUMIS Coin Collection has burgeoned to numerous coin albums of high quality teaching coins which are taken for lectures on Arabic-Persian, Brahmi, Kharoshti and Greek Script on Indian Coins. Even our simple Introduction to Numismatics have around 20 odd coins from different periods of Indian History to make the participants aware of India's unbroken 2500 year plus numismatic history. We also carry a tool kit to make students aware of the various equipment necessary to examine and record coins as research data viz. digital weighing scale (under 200 grams), vernier calipers, magnifying glass, etc.
The most satisfying part of the CENNUMIS' experience is watching students enthusiastically examine a Gandhara Punch-marked coin or hold a 20 gram plus Mughal paisa with great awe. Watching these students, I feel that my investment on these coins has been paid back to me many times over!
CENNUMIS is a dynamic and active organization which is ready to travel to any part of the country especially if our modest financial conditions are met with equal enthusiasm at the other end. To contact us, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
|A Group of Mumbai Undergraduate Students visiting RBI Museum with the author|
|Participants at our 1st Arabic-Persian Script Workshop in Mumbai in January 2015 examining a coin specimen|
|The right way of holding a coin being taught to participants at a workshop|
|Coins and other artefacts for a CENNUMIS 'Introduction to Numismatics' Workshop|
|Eye Copies of Mughal Coins drawn by a participant at CENNUMIS' 2nd Arabic-Persian Script Workshop|