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Ancient treasures

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An avid antiques collector from Bradford has been showing some of his favourite pieces to the Asian Express and explaining why his hobby carries more than just financial value.

Nafees Nazir, 45, from Heaton, has been purchasing antiquities for more than 20 years after picking up his first item, a 100-year-old book, for just 10p at a flea market.

COLLECTOR: Nafees Nazir has more than 100 items which date back thousands of years in his home

COLLECTOR: Nafees Nazir has more than 100 items which date back thousands of years in his home

Since then, Mr Nazir’s passion for the hobby has seen him acquire some remarkable objects from all around the world, dating back thousands of years and passing through tens of generations.

From coins to rings, chess pieces to jewellery and even a giant slab of stone, his collection is one which has seen some of the most important historic events pass by.

Speaking about why he enjoys collecting so much, he said: “It has grown into a real passion of mine because every item, no matter how big or small, has such a story behind it.

“There are items which date back thousands of years so imagine the amount of wear some of these things may have had.

“This collection of rings for example; some are more than a thousand years old and if you think about who could afford jewellery back in them days, it was only the select few. One is even silver which will have been extremely rare for that period.

COLLECTION: Mr Nazir has collected tens of bronze and silver coins over the years

COLLECTION: Mr Nazir has collected tens of bronze and silver coins over the years

“The odds are that they were reused by people throughout different generations because they were a luxury item. The antiques trade is the first example of recycling really.

“The sentimental value they have held is amazing and to think how far they have come makes me really interested to learn more.”

Amongst Mr Nazir’s ever-growing collection is a pouch of bronze and silver coins originating from as long ago as the Persian Empire.

Silver coins were produced by placing a blob of metal on a piece of hard wood and the design of the coin, carved in reverse, on a piece of hard steel. After compressing the two together the design would stick on the softer silver metal.

VALUABLE: This Knight chess piece, from the Fatimid Dynasty, is valued at over £5,000 and was purchased for less than a tenth of that by Mr Nazir

VALUABLE: This Knight chess piece, from the Fatimid Dynasty, is valued at over £5,000 and was purchased for less than a tenth of that by Mr Nazir

As the Islamic Empire widened in Byzantine Lands, the coins were then modified to include Islamic phrases which are clearly seen on many of Mr Nazir’s collections.

“It is something that really interests me with the coins because each one is from a different period,” he said.
“Some have been found by metal detectors and then just dug up from the ground, whilst others I have purchased from collectors all around the world.”

Mr Nazir also showed one of his ‘favourite’ pieces, an old chess piece dating back one thousand years, and explained how it proved to be one of his greatest finds.

“This is actually made of alabaster stone, which is a kind of marble, and would be used as the Knight in a game of chess,” he said.

“I bought it from an Australian dealer who literally sells antiques from every era and has been doing so for more than 30 years.

“I purchased it for under £500 and took it down to London to be verified and valued, and they told me it was worth in excess of £5,000.”

Mr Nazir continues to collect antiquities from around the world and if you would like to see more, please visit www.islamique antiques.com

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