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Coins, stamps, 100-year-old lamp and a box camera: A museum of antiques in Karachi

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: In a congested neighborhood in Pakistan’s southern seaside metropolis of Karachi, a narrow flight of stairs in a century-old building leads up to a second-floor dwelling where a sign in Persian — “Excellence in your work is admired by the world” — welcomes visitors.

Inside is a treasure trove of antiques collected over decades by 67-year-old artist Ahmed Anver. From lamps, cameras and gramophones to coins, stamps, and a box camera, Anver’s home museum is an extension of the owner’s own love for art and passion for antiques.

Anver was three when his father, a textile designer and printer, migrated from India to Pakistan about a decade after independence in 1947, bringing with him a modest collection of antiques, including coins, stamps, and a box camera.

Growing up around this paraphernalia would spark a passion for collectibles in his young son that has grown into a lifetime’s labor of love. 

“I inherited my hobby from my father, who had a collection of old coins,” Anver, an award-winning artist who specializes in miniature painting, pointillism and calligraphy, told Arab News.

“I would often turn them over and over, and would look at them and arrange them in different albums. As I progressed in my student life, I began to learn more about coins, and that coins should be collected. So, old coins I have been collecting from the beginning.”

The picture taken on September 23, 2023, shows Ahmed Anver’s vintage camera collection at his museum in Karachi, Pakistan. (AN photo)

A passion that began from coins went on to include much more.

“In my collection of antiques, I’ve gathered various items such as tickets, old coins, vintage lamps, and other small antique pieces,” Anver said. “This includes items like old radios, old gramophone records, old gramophones, and similar treasures that I collect.”

The artist has a special fascination with lamps, including one that is a hundred years old:

“I developed a hobby for collecting lamps during a period in my life when I used to work [paint]. So, regardless of the type of light available, I would always have a lamp on near me. One, the light of a lamp and secondly, the fragrance of incense sticks, I never used to work without them.”

Ahmed Anver, a 67-year-old artist, is taking a picture using one of his cameras from his collection at his house in Karachi, Pakistan on September 23, 2023. (AN photo)

Anver then got up to carefully retrieve a box camera from a rack lined with antiques.

“We [my family] had a Kodak box camera,” he said. “We owned that camera and used it to capture all our snapshots in Karachi or wherever we went.”

Now, Anver has a number of vintage cameras which he cherishes for their historical significance and uses for his own outdoor watercolor sessions also.

“As an artist, it’s essential for me to be a photographer as well because sometimes when we go for watercolor sessions, we get caught up in conversation, have delayed meals, or something else happens, causing the scene and lighting to change entirely,” Anver said.

Photographs taken with the old cameras then help complete the painting, Anver said.

The artist has collected antiques from a number of countries and said he strives to get his hands on an item he discovers — if it’s within his means.

“The most important issue is that I must push myself to the limit to collect these items … I have to sacrifice my own needs in order to look for these things.”

Courtesy: arabnews