A Lebanese Currency Collector Talks Money

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For Maaz, currency is not paper money with purchasing power, but something that has social, historical, and even geographic significance. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Zainab Hawi

Published Thursday, January 31, 2013

When Hussein Maaz was nine years old, he kept a Jordanian dinar in his pocket. It was a gift from his uncle. The crisp bill would become one of the first foreign currencies in his now extensive collection that tops 3,200 pieces.

Maaz, who works as an interior designer, became a professional banknote collector after graduating with an engineering degree from Lebanese University. After travels to Romania, where there are markets specializing in antiques and numismatics, Maaz slowly increased the size of his collection. Soon, his needs outgrew the physical market and he began his search online.

Collecting currency is a hobby that can require a great deal of money. A piece’s rarity is determined by its age and subsequent demand so a collector can distinguish himself by possessing rare pieces.

This distinction has created a chasm between collectors of different social classes, at times generating a sense of disappointment among collectors of limited means like Maaz. This class rift is evident when some collectors place prestige over passion in building their collections.

For Maaz, currency is not paper money with purchasing power, but something that has social, historical, and even geographic significance. It chronicles a country’s civilizations and historical epochs. A ruler might come to power and use the currency to illustrate his various “achievements” in a deliberate attempt to efface reality. Maaz gives the example of efforts to conceal Palestinian currency by replacing it with an Israeli one.

Maaz keeps his bills in ten albums that he cherishes more than his own life. He knows that if he were to ever hit hard times, these albums could provide some financial relief, though he hopes it would never come to that. His collection provides him with a level of personal satisfaction; even after his collection is complete, he will not stop in his pursuit of more notes.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Very interesting article. Anyone who wishes to learn more about the fascinating hobby of collecting banknotes is encouraged to visit my web site, www.BanknoteNews.com and subscribe to my catalog, The Banknote Book (www.BanknoteBook.com).

Wow! Very interesting old money you have there! I remeber my mom used to collect old coins. I was amazed to see all of those. It must cost much as of the moment.

I just wanted to tell you that there are many mistakes in translating this article about me...
I am not a COIN COLLECTOR...I am a BANKNOTE COLLECTOR or paper money collector.
changing the translation from banknote to coin changes the whole idea and meaning of the hobby.
the errors are here :
- The shiny coin would become one of the first coins in his now extensive collection
- became a professional coin collector
- Maaz keeps his coins in ten albums that he
- he will not stop in his pursuit of more coins.

just replace the word COIN to Banknote or paper money.

best regards

Dear Houssein Maaz,

Apologizes for the mistranslation and any inconvenience it has caused you. We have re-edited the piece. Thank you for the notification.

Warm regards,

Thank you so much...
Best regards :)

Hi Maaz,

i was wondering if any of your pieces are for sale or if you are willing to exchange.

i have a small collection.


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