Special Indonesian exhibit unveiled at quiet vernissage

Batik was the dress code of the day at Alliance Coin & Banknote, as a special exhibit on the currency of Indonesia was unveiled on October 5th in downtown Almonte.

Entitled “Numismatik Nusantara”, the unique display celebrates 450 years of the coinage and currency of the sprawling island nation, organized chronologically between “the Age of Independent Kingdoms”, “the Rise of Colonialism”, and finally, “The Birth of an Independent Republic”.

Comprised of approximately 150 artifacts, including numerous rare colonial issues and patterns, the display constitutes the personal collection of Alliance owner Sean Isaacs and his wife Nana, herself a native of East Java, Indonesia.

“This August 17th marked the 75th anniversary of Indonesian Independence”, said Isaacs.  “I had actually been planning for the past two years to host a special open house to mark the occasion, in the continuing tradition of our widely-known “Coins & Strings” events, however, the Covid-19 crisis obviously brought a stop to those plans”.

A collector since childhood and a professional numismatist since 1988, the Mill Street business owner first took an interest in the country after spending four months in a remote Sumatran village as part of the Canada World Youth exchange program in 1985-86.  “The numismatic history of Indonesia is so fascinating and also somewhat tragic, with numerous outside colonial powers leaving their footprints in the region. The Dutch, obviously, left a significant legacy after more than three centuries of occupation, but our exhibit also displays the influence of the British and Japanese imperial interests, etc.”

Isaacs had resigned himself to forgoing any celebration of the Independence milestone under the circumstances. But plans quickly changed once acquaintances at the Embassy of Indonesia learned of the collection.

“There is a real renaissance occurring in Indonesia in terms of interest in their own numismatic history, and in historic/cultural artifacts in general”, said Isaacs.  With plans already in the works to mark the 68th anniversary of Canada-Indonesia Bilateral Relations on October 9th, the Embassy expressed keen support for the concept of a coinage exhibit in Almonte.  Three weeks later, after further planning and discussion, a small delegation lead by his Excellency, Ambassador Abdul Kadir Jailani visited Alliance Coin & Banknote on October 5th to officially unveil the exhibit.

“It was a very nice event”, Isaacs said. “Even as someone keenly interested in history, the Ambassador and his entourage had never seen the majority of the items we have on display.  As is so often the case with developing countries, limited interest has been paid to fields such as Numismatics, and so much cultural heritage ended up being exported to foreign institutions and collectors. This is very rapidly changing, however, and there are now many fine new institutions and study groups within Indonesia that are fueling this cultural and numismatic renaissance”.

Open to public viewing at 88 Mill Street until October 31st – preferably by appointment, in order to maintain proper Covid-19 capacity safety standards – Isaacs invites everyone to stop by his gallery and view the unprecedented exhibit.

“Indonesian coinage is so diverse in terms of history and aesthetic appeal; I invite collectors and non-collectors alike to take 15 minutes and enjoy a viewing of “Numismatic Nusantara”.

Alliance Coin & Banknote is located at 88 Mill Street in Almonte, and can be reached at: 613-256-6785 or 613-558-2895