However, so far there have been no commemorative coins reflecting the presence of Muslims in Canada, although commemorative coins are issued each year for other religious and cultural holidays from other diverse communities.
Ontario coin dealer and convert to Islam, Sean Isaacs, wants to start filling this void in the market.
Muslim Link interviewed Sean Isaacs about why he decided to design a coin to commemorate the Ottawa Muslim Association for Eid, the joys of coin collecting and the need for more diversity in Canadian commemorative coins.
Tell us about yourself and why you founded Alliance Coins?
I have been a coin dealer for 32 years, first worked with Lincoln Heights Coin & Stamp in Ottawa (then one of the largest numismatic companies in Canada), then started my own business, Alliance Coin & Banknote, in 2000.
I have been collecting coins since I was a child and have always been captivated by the history and geography of this hobby. I studied history in my youth at Carleton University and finally got my first job at a coin store in Ottawa in 1988. We opened our gallery / store in Almonte 16 years ago , and it is now the permanent headquarters of our company. I will have been married to my Indonesian fiancee for 30 years in August and we have two grown children. In addition to buying and selling all forms of coins, banknotes, medals, gold and silver, I have also provided real estate and institutional appraisals for many years, including to collectors / estates, institutions Financial Services and the National Archives of Canada.
How did the idea of creating a commemorative coin for the Ottawa Muslim Association come about?
For many years I was an official distributor of the Royal Canadian Mint and I continue to sell their coins today in our Almonte gallery. Currently they issue around 300 different commemorative coins each year for collectors and as a merchant and Muslim I have patiently waited for them to recognize the Canadian Muslim population with a coin. They have released plays for many other cultural / faith communities (i.e. Diwali, Chinese cultural traditions and of course over 150 different Christmas themed plays), but never a single one recognizing Muslim traditions. . Which is all the more strange, considering that the Muslim population of our country greatly exceeds one million inhabitants, and therefore quite comparable to these other groups.
A few years ago I had the idea to issue our own Eid commemorative coin, both to mark the end of Ramadan, as well as to offer members of our community something special to give. and to receive as part of Eid. For various reasons (cost, timing, etc.) this continued to sit on the back burner until this year when circumstances allowed us to move forward with such plans. I had always considered trying to make this an annual series that collectors, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, could look forward to. Celebrating Canada’s mosques seemed like the perfect theme.
As I grew up in Ottawa and took Shahada with Imam Shaheen over 30 years ago, choosing the Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA) to commemorate our first issue was the obvious choice. We wanted the coin (technically a “medal”, since it has no face value) to be of the best possible quality, which is why we chose to mint it in pure silver, which makes it a small one. emission limit. Before moving forward with the project, we were very happy to have received the blessing of Imam Sulaiman, the current Imam of the OMA, and Brother Mohammad Adi, on behalf of the mosque and of the local community.
Many of our readers may not be familiar with collecting coins. Based on your experience, what advice would you give to novice collectors?
Obviously I’m pretty subjective about coin collecting, but I’ve always thought of it as a great hobby, as it can introduce both beginner and advanced collectors to the story, the geography and culture of our world. With 2,500 years of uninterrupted coinage, there is much to offer the collector. Ideally, choosing a particular lens can lead to the greatest satisfaction in collecting, be it a particular country (Canada, England, Egypt, etc.), and even more specifically, perhaps a particular denomination – such as Canadian pennies, etc. .
However, other popular ways to collect can be by theme – coins with fish on them, coins with birds or wildlife in general, or some other idea that can be fun and popular – trying to collect a coin from every country, state or region. Believe it or not, this list has over 2,000 possibilities, considering all of the countries that no longer exist in their original names / contexts.
Collecting coins, like any other hobby, requires patience, which can be a great exercise for young people, and organizing a collection is both important and another test of discipline. and commitment. An important fact to keep in mind is that – unlike the general impression – coin collecting doesn’t have to be expensive. The best example is our store’s “big bin” (the largest of its kind in the country), which holds ½ ton of coins from all over the world – and they cost just 0.25 cents each.
So ultimately my best initial advice to a newbie collector – try to figure out what interests you, be it shape, country, design or history and go from there.
Tell us how the Eid play was designed?
Our Eid coin is made up of two different patterns / dies (like each coin or medal issued). On the back, we have used our existing “Alliance” die. Exactly 10 years ago, a local designer here in Ottawa prepared for us our new corporate logo for Alliance Coin & Banknote, which is the “&” of our name, stylized with traditional vintage coloring, and some designs from coins were added (beads around the circumference with dentils, etc.). From this design, we had created a special currency matrix at the Northwest Territorial Mint in Washington State, which was used to create our first one ounce silver medal several years ago. .
We had this die transferred to our friends at the North American Mint in Rochester, New York last year, and they used it to strike the back of our Eid coin. For the design before, I prepared a few artistic concepts using several different images from the Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA) and their artists chose the one that they thought would work best, and prepared for us the final illustration to be used on the part. It was important to us that the design incorporated some traditional Islamic elements, while presenting the mosque as precisely as possible. In the end, we were very happy with the design and hope the resulting piece will be well received within the Muslim community in Ottawa. We have also received inquiries and parts orders from outside of Ottawa, major cities like Toronto. We are pleased to see this as we hope to see the entire Canadian Muslim community take an interest in this play and future issues.
What are the best ways to display a commemorative coin for decoration?
All parts of this nature (due to the delicate workmanship, etc.) are issued in protective capsules, allowing them to be safely handled and presented. With individual pieces, they tend to be well displayed in their boxes where they can be enjoyed. In moving forward with a collection, however, storage and preservation are key issues. Not only is it easier to enjoy and share a collection if it’s housed in something that makes it easy to store, but it also (still) offers some protection to a collection. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for today’s collectors, ranging from special pages that fit all standard binders, to individual capsules, flips, and racks, as well as specialty folders – i.e. . hold coins of the world.
In our store we have many different media, folders and albums for this purpose, and are always happy to introduce new collectors to the many options available.
Obviously, especially as one becomes a more advanced collector, balancing storage, the ability to display / share a collection, and the need to remain somewhat discreet can be a navigational challenge, and many these products help with that.
Currently these items can be ordered online on our website, but once things start to open up again, especially during these beautiful summer months, I invite anyone interested to visit our gallery in Almonte for a visit and discuss if they would like to know more about the coin -collect.