Friday, February 24, 2012

Fallen Empires...

So I spent last Saturday hosting an old friend who was in Istanbul for the weekend. It was great. I got to enjoy all of the tourist spots and see some of the places I hadn't been in a few years.

I was almost moved to tears when I walked into the Hagia Sophia this time. It's just stunning.

We used the afternoon to check out the Old Book Bazaar, and I had no idea I was about to find my new favorite shop in the world.

I was browsing outside of all the shops when I looked at a random little basket in the corner. It was filled with coins. 

I picked up a handful and realized what they were. It was a huge collection of international and expired coins.

Needless to say... I was excited...

My Haul

From R to L: 2.5 Old Turkish Lira (1972), 5 French Francs (1972), 1 Italian Lira (1956)

From R to L: 1 UK Shilling (1957), 10 Israeli Acorot (unknown year - no Hebrew here), 1 Russian Ruble (1997), 5 Swiss Rappen (1952)

From R to L: 500 Iranian Rials (1953), 1 Indian Rupee (1999), 100 Bahraini Fils (1995), 5 Chinese Yen (can't read the year...)
 These are my favorite coins:
Top Row, R to L: 5 Cypriot Mils (1972 - note the Greek and Turkish), 5 Soviet Kopek (1987)
Bottom Row, R to L: 50 Bulgarian Stotinki (1974), 10 Yugoslavian Dinar (1983), 20 East German (DDR) Pfennig (1974)
AWESOME, right??

So I go to buy the coins and the shop owner starts showing off his other goods. Turns out he is a fantastic guy.  And he has some fantastic stuff. 

The Neatest Bills 
10 German Deutschmarks from 1920 (as in, this is the type of bill Germany was ordered to pay for World War I with)
20 Hungarian Pengö from 1941 (this bill is from the Kingdom of Hungary, pre-Communist regime. All time favorite currency. The art nouveau style is exquisite and the art in amazingly detailed)
The Strangest Bill 
.25 Libyan Dinar (unknown date - definitely printed under the Ghaddafi regime)
The Craziest Bills
From T to B: 2 Afghani bill (they are actually called Afghanis - the bill says it's from 1962, I'm not convinced),
25 Iraqi Dinar (unknown year, presumably before 2003),
1000 Iranian Rials (again, unknown date)

500 Russian Rubles (a large, beautiful bill from 1918. This bill was issued by the Russian Tzar, but would have been ciculated in the Soviet Union. Crazy, eh? Also note the watermark on the blank left side. Awesome.
100 Russian Ruble "Katerina" bill from 1910 (Insane. This humongous bill has a perfect watermark of the portrait of Catherine on the blank right side. And the detail is incredible. Sheesh...) 
I was pretty happy as I left that shop.

And I'll definitely be going back. 

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