There are many people who are interested in money not only for its exchange value but also for the stories behind the banknote.
Each banknote carries with it a historical context that hardly anybody knows if they do not devote their time to it.
Besides the joy of possessing valuable and rare coins and banknotes, the knowledge of historical and social backgrounds of currencies attracts people to collect them.
The 74-year-old American Howard A. Daniel III finds a great joy when studying currencies, and all the more so when it comes to Vietnamese banknotes and coins.
The elderly man now is a widely recognized scholar in the field of numismatics, and has been compiling a great deal of materials on the local money after spending decades in this sector.
Daniel entered the sector as a collector, then a researcher and writer specializing in South East Asia’s currencies.
His numismatics studies started in 1964 while he was in the army in Japan, working with big mainframe computers.
He has published numismatics catalogs on French Colonial, Việt Nam, Cambodia and Laos.
At present, he is making the second edition of his Democracy Republic of Việt Nam Coins and Currency catalog.
Daniel used to serve as a numismatics ambassador for years, giving lectures about Southeast Asian numismatics in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asian countries.
In 2000, after a conference in Jakarta, he thought of compiling numismatics catalogs for Việt Nam because such a job had not been assumed by any in the country.
Numismatics associations in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Myanmar have already taken over the compilation job in their countries.
However, Việt Nam, Laos and Cambodia still have not established numismatics associations, says Daniel.
He hopes such associations will be established in these countries to encourage people to research and write their own catalogs.
Being an enthusiast in money studying, Daniel has still faced challenges, especially, the language barrier and lack of sources.
“I had to find a little piece of information in many locations in the world.”
He talks to The Saigon Times Daily.
He has spent many days searching through libraries around the world, including eighteen months of weekends in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C, looking from A to Z for information about Vietnamese and other currencies.
Many other times, he has also visited private libraries and collections looking for new information, coins and banknotes.
Whenever he finds a way out of a deadlock, both himself and his readers are rewarded with interesting and useful information.
Many Vietnamese numismatists, historians and researchers have been using Daniel’s catalogs about coins and currencies when he first published them in the U.S.
Thousands of copies have been sold out after being published in Vietnamese.
Hồ Hải, a member of the forum viet-numis.com, comments:
“In my opinion, catalogs of Howard Daniel have plentiful references and accurate arrangements.
It is helpful because the catalogs show meticulous works reflecting the currency development process of Việt Nam.”
Each catalog includes categorized lists of coins, notes, bullion bars and rounds, settlement checks and properties from private collections.
Having spent 50 years on Vietnamese numismatics research, Daniel still considers himself a student, not an expert.
According to him, “an expert has nothing more to learn, and I know I have much more to learn.
Even on November 11, I find something new in almost every collection, inventory and library I look at that I did not know before.
This proves I am still a student, and I look forward to find something new every day.”
By HIẾU THẢO
Source: The Saigon Times Daily