Congratulations to Tom Babinszki on the tenth anniversary of his Blind Coin Collector blog! With permission, here's his complete anniversary post.
It's been exactly ten years that I have started this blog. It has been transformed a few times, and it has also changed my life in many ways.
Originally, I started to discuss the possibilities of collecting coins without vision. This gave me a couple of years worth of content, but let's face it, there is only so much to write about the topic, and I have mostly exhausted it.
Just about when I started to run out of ideas, I got an assignment that required me to travel, so the opportunity presented itself for the next few years, I got to visit several coin museums and coin shows that I wrote about while I continued writing on blindness related issues.
The third major category I was writing about was the accessibility of currency, and I believe it has many more future articles in it. Over the last ten years, many countries have introduced tactile currencies, but it is not available in most countries yet.
Another random track along the major categories was a set of random posts about anything and everything that interested me at any given time, if possible I wrote about the tactile aspect of coins but that wasn't always the case.
I have to admit, in the last 3-4 years the blog got much less attention than I wanted to give it. Partly because I had to reinvent my professional life about once a year recently, and since I didn't have enough time for coins, I didn't have too much inspiration for ideas. I believe I still have a lot to write about, and I am not planning to let this blog die slowly, but I have yet to figure out a few things.
Let's look at some facts and figures:
In the last 10 years, I have more than doubled my collection, and since I had an opportunity to learn a lot from others, I believe this is the nicer half of my coins. But ultimately what matters more is that I took the hobby from hoarding coins to numismatics.
I had an opportunity to visit 13 coin museums and exhibits in 8 countries. What's special about these is that in most cases, from the generous offer of the museum employees, I was able to experience special exhibits, where I was allowed to touch many things that one can otherwise see behind glass. I probably touched millions worth of coins in the last 10 years, some were ancient, some were unique, I even had a chance to touch a coin that was one of its kind, as only one was minted and it never entered circulation. Equally important that I heard many interesting stories about coins and museums. I can't be thankful enough for all the people who made it happen.
Sometimes I applied to speak, and other times I was invited to make a presentation for coin clubs. Probably one of the proudest moments of my presentations was when I got a presenter of the year award at the Columbus CONA coin club. It would be a big deal at any coin club, but it is particularly meaningful to me, where there are so many outstanding numismatists. At the end, I learned more from them than what they learned from me.
I developed many new interests and collections, to mention a few, braille coins, the International Year of disabled persons collection, a collection of money recognizers, or tactile currencies. While my main focus is still coins, there are a few mor interesting aspects of money and numismatics that I can't not to collect.
I got to enjoy numismatic literature. It was over the last few years when many materials became available online. Particularly by being a member of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, where through the kind and generous help of the people I got to know I was able to find electronic materials. When I started collecting coins, this simply wasn't available, and therefore I was not able to learn about the coins I had. Maybe without this immense amount of literature I wouldn't have taken the hobby this far.
I got to maintain my language skills and learn new things in the most fun way, by reading numismatic literature. Each language opened new opportunities, and I was able to read excellent materials in seven languages.
The not so good
As I promised at the beginning, I wanted to show the good and the bad, and I have a few things which didn't turn out the way I was hoping.
I didn't get to write a book. I've been researching materials about braille coins and tactile currencies, and for many years I wanted to publish it in a book. I found that over the years, I was not able to make this content complete enough for a book, but I would have enough material just to publish online. As time permits, this is what I am going to do with this content.
I couldn't figure out how to post good pictures. With all the available technologies and my background in IT, I was hoping to maintain the visuals of this blog on my own. I could not. You will see a few pictures here and there, I took the bad ones, and my daughter or friends helped with the good ones. I gave up, I will either ask for help, or settle with ugly.
I started and failed a project to have coins described to blind people. Not enough people were interested in both the giving and receiving end. Over the years I found that it wasn't a bad thing, because now coins are described on Numista better than I could have hoped for. So rather, I am asking my friends to make their Numista descriptions as detailed as possible instead. It benefits many more people who are searching for content.
I couldn't get my kids into coin collecting. I tried. I took them places, I told them stories and gave them countless coins.
But most importantly, I met wonderful people. I will not list names here, because this means much more to me than just name dropping, but probably throughout the blog you would find many of them. Through the blog and related trips I met wonderful numismatists who always had some time to guide me or help me with information or resources. I met interesting people around the world, some I kept in touch with, and I can even call a few of them friends today. It was through my blog that I met one of my best friends. I met authors, numismatists, curators, volunteers, collectors and investors who's work I have admired, and I would have been shy to reach out to them. Instead, they did, and shared all they had, a nice coin, a book, a story, an advice or a meal. I got most of the inspiration and encouragement from them.
These are just a few highlights, there is much more, but I don't want to make a full inventory, because it would be impossible. I originally started this blog to educate: blind people about the fact that coin collecting doesn't necessarily require vision, parents of blind kids to help them understand that there are more opportunities out there and only imagination is the limit, and sighted collectors to understand that blind people can also enjoy the same hobby, though sometimes a bit differently.
I don't know how much I was able to educate or share information, from the statistics of the viewers I know that many more read my posts than who would actually contact me. But one thing is for sure, I got so much more from people than I will ever be able to give back. The relationships and the conversations I had because of my blog taught me a lot, and gifted me with many great encounters.
I'm not sure where the next few years will take me and my blog, but I am definitely looking forward to it.
And lastly, thank you to all tens or hundreds of you who were part of this journey with me.
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To read the complete article, see:
For the 10th birthday
To read some of Tom's special topics, see:
Collecting Coins Without Vision
Visiting Several Coin Museums and Coin Shows
The Accessibility of Currency
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
THE BLIND COIN COLLECTOR VISITS SMITHSONIAN
TOM BABINSZKI VISITS INDIA
THE NUMISMATIC MUSEUM OF ICELAND
FIRST ELECTRONIC MONEY IDENTIFIER FOR THE BLIND
INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF DISABLED PERSONS COINS
THE BRAILLE COINS OF ECUADOR
Wayne Homren, Editor
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