Collecting knowledge


‘My Room My Exhibition’, the first virtual exhibition by The Goa Philatelic and Numismatic Society is currently on display on social media. NT BUZZ learns more


From stamps on diverse themes ranging from lighthouses, minerals, Walt Disney and more, to valuable currencies and collections of watches, pencils, etc, the ongoing virtual exhibition by The Goa Philatelic and Numismatic Society (GPNS) promises to be an immersive, educational experience.

Titled ‘My Room My Exhibition’ the exhibition which began on May 18 (International Museum Day) can be freely accessed from the organisation’s Facebook page. It comprises three sections – philately, numismatics and other collectibles.

“We usually collaborate with Goa Science Centre (Miramar) for the exhibition on International Museum Day. However, owing to COVID we are not able to do this at the site. And so, the idea of a virtual exhibition came about,” says joint secretary, GPNS, Rolando de Mello, adding that at the centre, exhibits of other collectibles were also put up. Since these would be left out, the organisation decided to include them in this exhibition. “Apart from stamps and coins, there are many people who enjoy collecting other things. In fact, each and every one of us has got something or the other at home. And that’s how the title ‘My Room My Exhibition’ came about,” he says.

Having an online exhibition also means that it reaches a wider audience. “While exhibition participation was mostly restricted to our organisation members and a few Goan people that we knew of, people from other parts of the country have now begun requesting us to have a separate section for their works. However, this would mean a lot of work in terms of verification and so we have no plans for that as yet,” says de Mello.

Given the current stressful situation owing to the pandemic, this virtual exhibition also serves as a stress buster, says de Mello. Besides, people can view it at their own leisure as they have no plans to take it off so soon. “Another plus point is that people who have numismatic collections are wary of exhibiting because these are expensive and they are afraid of losing these. But when it is online, they only have to upload pictures of it,” says de Mello. However, he acknowledges that face-to-face interaction and insights are missing when an exhibition is online.

And there’s a lot that can be learned from stamps about history, geography and other aspects, says de Mello. “We have collections on language and literature, Antarctica, minerals of the world and more,” he says. There is also an exhibit on old postage scales. “Prior to the introduction of stamps, when people had to send parcels, they had to weigh these. So, every home used to have a scale for this. One of our members has a collection of six to eight of these scales and thus one can learn about postal history in this way,” says de Mello.

A guide to the world

De Mello himself has exhibited a stamp collection ‘Those guiding lights’ (lighthouses of India and New Zealand). In fact, his interest in philately began back when he was in class six. “At that time a lot of people used to go to East Africa. I had classmates who had family there and they used to share these colourful stamps with me,” he says. In 2011, he joined GPNS. Among his collections that have been recognised are those on India-Portuguese stamps, and stamps with a Goan connect. Apart from the philately counter, stamps are sourced sometimes from others members in the organisation or from online sites. “We don’t order valuable stamps from dealers online at once. Over time once trust has been built, we proceed further,” says de Mello, adding that collecting stamps and currency notes and coins is also a sort of investment.

Besides the stamps, he has also put up a collection of keychains in the Other Collectibles category. De Mello is now working on a stamp collection of parrots and on St Joseph Vaz.

Down to Earth

Retired marine geologist Abhay Mudholkar meanwhile has put up a stamp collection on ‘Minerals of the World’. “I used to collect stamps and covers as a child. After college and job, the hobby took a backseat but by 2000 I started again. As I am a geologist, I started collecting stamps on minerals, volcanoes, etc,” says Mudholkar, who also collects stamps on birds and armed forces stamps.

Having joined GPNS in 2016, he has since participated in INPEX 2017, MAHAPEX 2018 and GOAPEX 2019 (where he won the silver and bronze medal).

Mudholkar also has an interesting exhibit in the Other Collectibles section titled ‘Teeth of Megalodon’. Megalodon, the exhibition informs, were giant line deep sea fish (now extinct) that existed 30 million years back. They weighed 50 tons and were almost 13 metres to 17 metres long.

In 1982, Mudholkar joined the CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO), Dona Paula under the Survey for Polymetallic Nodules, and was part of the team of scientists who were exploring and collecting polymetallic or ferro-manganese nodules from the deep Central Indian Basin. “We were collecting large quantities of nodules using deep-sea dredges. These collections brought up unique megalodon teeth encrusted with ferromanganese oxide layers. My colleague Shyam Gupta has done extensive research on these teeth. The presence of the teeth suggest that Indian Ocean was home to these huge megalodons,” he says. 

Mudholkar is presently working on a detailed collection on forts of India. Another exhibition in the pipeline will be on owls and water birds.

Medicine for the soul

If you are interested in biology, Shaunak Samant’s exhibition collection on medicinal plants could prove interesting. “In a highly disconnected world, it is necessary to understand the value of flora and fauna in society. Medicinal flowers, in particular, have been inherent in combatting diseases and building immunity since the early days of mankind. Through this collection, I managed to gain a decent understanding of ayurveda, unani and the biological aspects of such vegetation,” says the youngster who has been collecting stamps since he was seven years old and joined GPNS in 2018.

Samant was a bronze medallist at MAHAPEX 2018, in Pune and received the trophy at the Ayush Festival of Stamps, 2018. He also won the award for the Best Exhibit at GOAPEX 2018 and was recognised for his excellence in philately by the then Governor of Goa, Mridula Sinha, in 2019.

He also has another collection at the exhibition titled ‘Fillers’ (Hungary).

Zooming in to cars

Photographer Aslesh Kamat enjoys collecting a number of things ranging from vintage cameras to antique glass and ceramic bottles, etc. For this particular exhibition he has displayed his collection of Hot Wheels.

“I love to collect toys and diecast cars, especially 1:64 or smaller scale. And since I am a photographer, I love to capture photographs of those cars in real world. My other collectibles have been displayed before and this was a good chance to showcase both the cars as well the photography skills,” he says. In fact, Kamat, who is also the joint-secretary of GPNS, has been collecting diecast cars for around three years now, of various brands like Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Greenlight, Johnny lighting and more. Not all of these are available easily in India and have to be imported. “I like vintage and muscle cars, that’s why I collect the same in diecasts,” he says, adding that while many youngsters do like collecting cars, he collects actual scale models which are very expensive and have minute details. “These are mostly limited editions, commemorative editions and even vintage productions. The normal Hot Wheels will cost `100-120 but we sometimes buy cars which cost anywhere from `1000 – 3000 or more and are sold as collectibles only,” he says.