Friday, November 02, 2007

Keeper

[memories evoked by the Sunday Scribblings prompt money]


My dad kept things. Some things he kept "just in case" like rubber bands or twist ties from bread wrappers. He held onto a skillet he liked even though it was warped with a loose handle and we had bought a replacement.

Other things he collected because he had a plan for them. He wanted to make trivets or bulletin boards from wine bottle corks. He saved the metal from the top of the wine bottles (before they used plastic) to make a top out of. I don't know why he wanted a top, but he loved telling my brother and me how to make something using the lost-wax method.

He absorbed knowledge and collected books - there was no such thing as too many books for him. (I'm like him that way.) He collected seeds, leftovers from his gardening. He swapped some with other gardeners. He had a stamp collection, and although he was never able to interest us kids in it, I did learn how to carefully soak a stamp off an envelope.

But my dad's biggest collection, the one he spent the most time on, was his coin collection. I don't know when he started collecting coins. I do know that when he started, he realized that there were so many coins in the world, that he needed to focus on one thing. He decided to collect coins with ships on them.

By the time I was old enough to understand, my dad had coins with ships on them from all over the world, and from all time periods. And he had some that didn't have ships on them, ones he had come across and liked for one reason or another. There was a shelf in our library at home that was lined with copies of The Numismatist, a monthly publication filled with pictures of coins. My dad had stacks of little plastic envelopes to hold the coins, designed so that you could see both sides: the obverse and the reverse.

Most of the coins were kept locked away, though some were in albums in the library. But they were heavy and inconvenient to look at. My mom encouraged my dad to pick out his favorites and frame them. He ended up with a picture frame about 18" x 24" in which he had rows and columns with his favorite "ship" coins. It hung in their bedroom.

My mom and I each ended up with a necklace with a gold coin as a pendant and a bracelet with several gold coins on them. When I first got the bracelet, it had one gold coin on it. I got one additional coin for it each year until it had a total of 5 coins. I love that he selected each coin and fit each into a bezel, and that he carefully re-arranged where the coins hung on the bracelet so that they would be evenly spaced.

When my parents got ready to move to their retirement house, they sold nearly all of the collection to a dealer. I don't know the details, but I believe they got a fair price and the buyer seemed genuinely happy to have them. Now, the only coins left are the framed favorites, a handful of old English half-pennies, and the jewelry my mom and I have. But it makes me smile thinking of the pleasure the collection gave him.



19 comments:

tumblewords said...

I'm so glad you posted this touching story. It was highly enjoyable and reminds me of things I thought I'd forgotten.

Jo said...

a lovely memory.......I like keepers, and keepers of family memories too!

Redness said...

Beautiful memoir, loved this very much, Thank YOU!

gautami tripathy said...

It made me nostalgic.

I have got my dad's collection of very old coins. Actually it was collected by his younger brother who died at the age of 12. My dad was 14 at the time. Only memory he had of his brother were those coins. My dad never parted with it. After my dad was gone, my brothers passed it on to me. They knew I would love to keep it with me. And I do.

Thanks for this very good post!

Stacy said...

What lovely memories.

I wonder why he chose coins with ships?

sister AE said...

Hello, tumblewords. It makes me that you enjoyed it so much.

Hi, Jo. Thanks. I never thought about memory-collecting, but I guess I AM doing that too.

Thanks, Redness.

Hello, Gautami. I like knowing you have coins to remind me of your dad (and his brother). And I'm glad your brothers knew just what to do with the collection.

sister AE said...

Hi, Stacy. I wonder too. If I ever figure out when he started collecting, that might tell me. For now I can only guess. It might be that he found a ship coin that he liked a lot. Or it could have been a romantic idea - a way of traveling without going anywhere. His father traveled to this country by boat. He took a boat trip to study tropical medicine when he was in medical school. Too many possibilities.

paisley said...

what more grand legacy could any one of us hope to leave behind???

sister AE said...

thank you, Paisley.

Crafty Green Poet said...

There's so much more to collecting than just the physical collection itself. Nice post.

sister AE said...

thanks, Juliet.

Robin said...

It's lovely to see that his collection brought you all joy.

A friend of mine used to make those wine bottle cork bulletin boards. We saved corks for him for years...

sister AE said...

Hi, Robin.
My dad only made one trivet, and no bulletin boards. Mom finally convinced him to get rid of the corks.

Recently, though, I have started seeing advertisements for some frame kits designed specifically for someone to put in their own corks, ending up with trivets. It makes me think of all the corks that used to clog the kitchen drawer.

Awareness said...

I really enjoyed your story.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Awareness.

UL said...

I used to be into stamps as a child, but my husband collects coins, and he would love this post.I have to pass it onto him. Thank you for sharing.

sister AE said...

Thanks, UL. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope your husband likes it too.

Shephard said...

What a great memory and treasure to have. I totally envy anyone who has/had a dad who loved knowledge/reading. :)
~S

sister AE said...

Hi, Shephard. You're welcome to share my memories.