Old Delhi's coins mart charms numismatists
Can find coins dating back from 1876, with faded Queen Victoria emboss on the back, to 1967 with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s face on Rs 5 coin
A paradise for avid coin collectors or numismatists, people sell and purchase currency which is either discontinued by the Indian government such as Rs 10 paisa, and Rs 50 paisa, or coinage which are not available for public sale such as Rs 200 coin
New Delhi: The charm of Old Delhi often attracts tourists and the localities with its large options of wholesale and retail markets. Each lane is dedicated to specific commodities. The famous Ballimaran is known for spectacles and eyegears, whereas Khari Baoli is famous as the largest spice market in Asia. Each market has shops which date back to several decades. Amidst all these well-known streets, one can see makeshift shops on the roadside with small gatherings circling it. The improvised shops are of coin collectors who have been a part of Old Delhi for over five decades and are well-known for their existence. You may find coins dating back from 1876, with faded Queen Victoria embossed on the back, to 1967 with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's face on a Rs 5 coin.
These coin-collectors deal with currency in the traditional way, but with an added appeal. People may find the rarest of coins from the British era and purchase them at a throw away price. A paradise for avid coin collectors or Numismatists, people sell and purchase currency which are either discontinued by the Indian government such as Rs 10 paisa, and Rs 50 paisa, or coinage which are not available for public sale such as Rs 200 coin, the currency recently released by Reserve Bank of India on the 200th birth anniversary of Tatya Tope, a well-known freedom fighter of the 19th century.
The dampened spirits of the market post-pandemic have had a profound effect on these coin collectors/sellers as well. These sellers once thronged the main roads of Chandini Chowk but are now limited to a handful of them. Gaurav Aggarwal, a coin seller and collector, spoke to Bizz Buzz as to why he chose the family profession of currency exchange instead of a steady government job. "I have the ease of doing business as per my own hours and convenience, why should I toil for a 9-hour job? I took over the business from my uncle 12 years ago and today I earn around Rs 200/day by selling these coins and rare currency notes," Aggarwal said. Like Gaurav, most coin sellers on the roadside have minimal earning which can range between Rs 150 and Rs 250 on a good day. Each coin, depending on the type of metal, is sold for different prices. Aluminium coin of Queen Victoria, dated between 1876 and 1933, is a popular choice amongst coin collectors and can be purchased at Rs 10/piece. A profession which is hugely popular throughout the world fetches bare minimum to these sellers at Chandini Chowk. Yet the attraction towards the rusted yet antique currency has kept the 'art' of coin collection alive and prevalent.