by Björn Schöpe
November 13, 2014 – ‘Numismatourist’ is, of course, composed of the words numismatist and tourist – this is the nickname once given to Howard M. Berlin by Wayne Homren, editor of the electronic newsletter E-Sylum. Since long Berlin has been travelling through the world looking out for destinations linked to numismatics, particularly speaking of museums and exhibitions in central banks and mints. The American taken by wanderlust wrote on these travels in a pluri-awarded column which appeared in WorldWide Coins. And, eventually, Howard Berlin has gathered these experiences in a handy book available for a broad range of readers.
Howard M. Berlin, The Numismatourist. The Only Worldwide Travel Guide to Museums, Mints, and Other Places of Interest for the Numismatist. Zyrus Press, Irvine (CA), 2014. 22.7 x 15.2cm, 410 p., illustration in colour. Paperback. ISBN: 978-1-933990-29-3. Price: $29.95.
To make the facts clear right from the beginning: Howard Berlin has seen over 50 countries, collecting more than 75,000 air miles (per year!), and presents in his book 175 places in 75 countries.
To the benefit of the readers the book is neatly organised. When you read it, you can feel that the three passions of the author are coins, reading, and writing. His readers can consider themselves lucky because this combination does not seem to be very common or Berlin’s book would have been written long ago by someone else.
The places are geographically arranged in larger sections like ‘North America’ and ‘Western Europe’, and, in these sections, in countries and regions. Those who will travel out of there nearer area will appreciate having some maps at hand which show quickly where the museums discussed are located.
Berlin starts always with an introduction of the museum and its coin collection (in general with a photograph showing the building from outside to help identify it when approaching in real life), and gives then more detailed information on the exhibition and the material on display, also accompanied by photographs. Finally you get all these useful information as in a ‘common’ travel guide: operating hours, how to get there, contact details. It is very reasonable to omit admission fees: they change too quickly. Anyway, you are vividly encouraged to check all contact details and internet addresses, too, before a visit.
The choice of museums follows personal reasons and raises no claim to completeness – and this is just the book’s charm. You don’t need to be planning any travel to get yourself into a dreamy mood while flicking through the book: What coins do you imagine when you hear ‘Paramaribo’? What do you think may be on display in Ruwi or Rabat?
As Berlin himself puts it, not everywhere they can show impressive collections. How could that be, anyway? But even with coins of inferior grade you can tell stories not less intriguing than those told by the showpieces of the great coin cabinets – as long as your exhibition has been made carefully. And, of course, in the ‘Numismatourist’ you will find all important coin cabinets of the world, too!
Howard Berlin invites you to share with him all kind of feedback, hints and updated information via email.