With the advent of modern technology and digital platforms, different old hobbies tend to die down. 
Notaphily, the study and collection of paper currency, and banknotes, as a hobby may have been losing its charm for the younger generations, but there are individuals who continue to pursue their passion for rare and unique banknotes collection. It is an established fact that the paper currency collection is a costly hobby but it can be a very secure investment at the same time.
Notaphilist Abdul Salam, a Doha-based Indian expatriate, has long been collecting banknotes, coins and stamps. He has passionately been pursuing his hobby by collecting unique banknotes of different denomination from different countries. Being a longtime resident of Qatar, he has a particular knack for going after rare Qatari banknotes. He has amassed very rare and unique paper currency of Qatar.
“I started taking interest in rare coins when I was in Grade-3. I saw a coin with a boy and asked about it. Since the day, I have developed this hobby of collecting banknotes and coins. I had to stop pursuing my passion when I was in college after the death of my parents and I had to take care of my four sisters. The responsibility led me to land in Qatar 29 years ago,” said Abdul Salam on how he got involved in the hobby.
The collector, who has been in the trading business in Qatar, has made it his mission to obtain unique and rare notes. “Since my arrival in Qatar, I have been saving money only to purchase other notes. I have turned my passion into a mission. I have no plans to sell my rare collection in my lifetime. It is up to my children that what they would do with the notes after me. It is however a good investment for them.”
Abdul Salam carries the collection of nearly 5,000 rare banknotes from 175 countries. “I have some very rare banknotes particularly from Qatar. I have notes from all the seven Qatar issues. Notes of every denomination from each issue – from first to seventh – are with me. Only QR50 note from the first issue is missing. I also have notes of all denominations from the Qatar-Dubai currency that was in use in Qatar from 1965 to 1971. I only do not have the 50 riyal note from this currency. It is very rare and I am after it. I also have the collection of Indian currency notes that were in use in Qatar from 1957 to 1965.”
“I am mad about Qatari currency because the country is my second home. Here, I have been getting my bread and butter for 29 years.”
Further sharing his collection of rare banknotes, Abdul Salam said that QR500 from the first issue of 1973 with him is very rare. “It is an uncirculated (UNC) note. It has never been in circulation. I also have all the collection of UNC Indian banknotes. I am also interested in collecting banknotes with error cuttings. These notes are wrongly cut by mistake and are printed with other notes. These notes cannot be used. They are very rare to find. Such notes go to customers by chance and they either discard or return them. It can be one in 1mn. These notes are in very high demand from collectors.
“I am also crazy about the banknotes that carry fancy numbers. I have a huge collection of fancy number notes from different countries.”
The collector has not only been gathering the rarity but is also trying to promote the hobby among young people. “I have organised many exhibitions of my collection. In some cases I have showcased my assets in schools. My intention has been to promote the hobby and inculcate the interest among the young students. It will be a good healthy activity for young people who are often observed using social media or playing online games.”
Abdul Salam feels very happy when he sees rare notes or currency with fancy numbers. “Collecting the unique banknotes gives me immense happiness and satisfaction. I will keep gathering the currency as long as I can. It is my dream to obtain the Qatar-Dubai 50 riyal note. The note is in Lebanon and the collector has been asking for $50,000. I have been thinking to sell some of my assets in India to get this note.”
Related Story