Wissam Ali Youssef shows his collection of banknotes at his home in Chakra, Lebanon, on Oct. 12, 2019. Recently, 42-year-old Wissam Ali Youssef, a Lebanese from Chakra in southern Lebanon, broke a new Guinness World Record for owning the biggest collection of banknotes with 12,282 pieces from different countries and regions around the world. (Photo by Bilal Jawich/Xinhua)
by Dana Halawi
BEIRUT, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Recently, 42-year-old Wissam Ali Youssef, a Lebanese from Chakra in southern Lebanon, broke a new Guinness World Record for owning the biggest collection of banknotes with 12,282 pieces from different countries around the world.
Youssef expressed his happiness for being able to achieve his dream after long efforts and hard work.
"My first collection of banknotes was destroyed when Israel hit southern Lebanon in July 2006," he said, adding that "the war destroyed my house entirely and all of my collection."
Youssef said that he had started collecting his first banknotes at the age of eight.
"These banknotes were very precious to me. I felt that the war destroyed my passion. These currencies hold a lot of history and culture," he said.
However, Youssef decided not to give up his dream when he watched an exhibition for banknotes on television in 2014.
His passion came back and he decided to start a new collection all over again.
"This was my dream and passion. I thought that I should not allow an act of aggression to destroy my ambition after it had already destroyed my country and house," he said.
Youssef now owns 12,282 pieces of banknotes, breaking the record of an Indian who holds 10,025 pieces.
"Some of my banknotes are gifts from friends who travel regularly to different countries while others were bought from e-bay, merchants and exhibitions," he said.
Youssef's next dream is to establish his own exhibition in his hometown Chakra to showcase all the banknotes that he collected over the years.
"I wish to be able to do this one day," he said.
Youssef wouldn't have been able to achieve his goal without his wife's support.
"I cannot say that I share the same hobby with Youssef but I supported him a lot by giving him the time to achieve his dream and taking over the responsibilities of the house," said Zeina, mother of five kids.
Banknote and paper money collection is a hobby attracting thousands of people all over the world.
Coins and banknotes collectors can make a lot of money if they hold a rare collection from the right historical era.
For instance, Stack's Bowers, a firm that conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare coins and currency, has sold a 1,000-U.S. dollar 1980 Treasury Note named the "Grand Watermelon," for more than 2 million U.S. dollars.
"I may be able to sell one of my banknotes at a very high price one day in the future," Youssef told Xinhua.
Before Youssef's achievement of his goal with his record number of banknotes, the largest collection of banknotes belonged to the Indian Anil Bohora with a total of 10,025 different banknotes, as of Jan. 13, 2009.
Guinness World Record also recognized Leigh Follestad of British Columbia, Canada, for breaking the world record for the largest collection of uncut banknotes.
Lebanon broke, on several occasions, the Guinness World Record over the past few years.
In September of 2016, the city of Batroun broke the Guinness World Record for the world's largest seafood display, consisting of 2,613.8 kg of fish.
A month later, the largest cereal box in the world was revealed at Lebanon's Jounieh Old Souks.