The daily flea market at Hyderabad’s iconic Charminar is every shopper’s dream. From the dazzling Chudi Bazaar to pearls, dainty crockery and fresh flowers, Charminar is an ideal destination for every budget shopper. Adding to the glimmer are the vintage collections that attract huge crowds on the pavements around Charminar, the most famous among them is Abdul Khalif’s vintage coin collection.
Sitting on the stretch between Charminar and Mecca Masjid for the past 35 years, Abdul Khalif says his coins are as old as 600 years. Spread on a huge white rug, Khalif’s coin collection would be a vintage collector’s dream. From hand-minted coins to a bronze anna coin weighing as much as 5 kilograms, Abdul Khalif has been in the business for the past 35 years.
“I am a class VII dropout. It’s a poem I read in one of my classes that made me think about this world and I became a voracious reader. This business is completely based on my intelligence - from how I source the coins and sell them to people. But one thing remains that I have always done only honest business,” Abdul Khalif says.
The price of Abdul’s coin collection ranges from Rs 10 to Rs 50,000. The least priced are the Indian collection, which has coins from the 1950s till 2010. Abdul has a wide collection of the British-era coins, form the 1600s to the late 1890s. One of the major attractions of the collection is a 1818 one anna coin that weighs around 5 kg and is made of bronze. The British-era coins start from Rs 80 and go up to Rs 2,000.
Pre-Independence era coins
Abdul has coins made of bronze, copper, silver and a combination of alloys. He also has an impressive collection of coins from around the world: Sri Lanka, Germany, US, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Portugal, UAE, all owing to the extensive tours he makes every month. Abdul travels within India and meets his contacts from whom he collects the coins.
“Tell me the name of a king, and I will give you coins from his era - any kingdom in the last 600 years, I have it all. I lived in the gulf countries for almost 12 years. So most of my Arab country collection comes from there. The rest, I have collected during my travels and have also sourced them from multiple coin collectors. These collections are rare and costly. And when it comes to coins, nothing can stop me from buying them,” Khalif says.
British era one anna coin
Sitting in the same spot for the past 35 years, Khalif makes money mainly through the pricey orders that come from vintage enthusiasts. “I make my daily earnings through the few tourists who buy coins that are put on display on the pavement. But my major income comes from vintage collectors who ask for rare pieces which I source through my network for them,” Khalif says.
So why doesn’t Khalif expand his business outside the pavement? “My life and family is dependent on this, I never did any illegal work with a greed for money. I have managed to get my children educated with the money earned from this. And of course, Allah has always been kind to me. I do not need any big shop to sell these,” Khalif smiles.
Khalif's son Sohail