From the Numismatic News 60th Anniversary Special Issue – Marcos Brangado • Uruguay
I was in a very popular flea market here in Uruguay, the country were I’ve lived my entire life. It was a big flea market were you can pretty much find whatever your imagination can conceive, with endless streets that cross others, all with stands selling on both sidewalks.
It was a summer Sunday morning the one in question. Both my father and I like to walk among the crowd and the different stands searching for any kind of stuff. He likes tools and car parts. I have a preference for old items of any kind. It was not different 19 years ago, only that I didn’t know my predilection for coins back then.
At 9 years old I was pretty much interested in shinny things. Then I saw it, in the middle of a coin pile, all thrown together like pieces of garbage that nobody cared about. It was a relatively big coin, all shiny and in great condition compared with the rest.
I picked it up and looked at it closely., From what I could read it was a commemorative coin, but when I flipped it to see the other side I found the image of an Uruguayan gaucho perfectly made. For those who don’t know it, the gaucho was in his time a countryside outlaw, similar to a cowboy. But the difference was that at the moment the country wanted independence from Spain, they filled their part greatly, becoming heroes and a symbol of our independency. I knew all that because it was taught in our history classes at school since first grade, but only years later I understood the significance of their doings.
I bought the coin for 25 Uruguayan pesos, just a bit more than a dollar, took the coin back home and put it in a draw for God knows how long.
One day my grandpa came for a visit. I don’t remember if it was the same year or the one after I bought the coin, but I do remember that after lunch I took him to my room and showed him the coin. He was most impressed and told me he used to have a couple of those coins decades ago. He couldn’t remember what he did with them, but he did remember these coins are made of silver (I easily confirmed that a couple of years later) and that made my eyes shine. I thought back then that I had found a treasure coin or something similar even farther than reality. Nevertheless at that time it was a very romantic idea.
That was the first coin of my collection, which is not that big, only 600 items or so, but I do like the fact I focused on Uruguayan coins and then started collecting coins from other regions. Still, I have a long way to go because I don’t have all minted coins, but I have quite a representative Uruguayan set, which I believe gives personality to the entire collection, a main topic or kind of soul.
I also believe I’m still attached to the idea of treasure hunting that the “gaucho” coin triggered in me, so I take each tour or data investigation like that, a treasure hunt.