Arvind Sinha’s home in Versova and office in Oshiwara in Mumbai double as ‘warehouses’ that store a mind-boggling collection of lapel pins from 80 countries. Having set two Guinness records, of 18,000 and 44,000 lapel pins, in 2012 and 2015 respectively, he is now working towards a third one—100,000 lapel pins—in 2017.
A textile engineer with a master’s degree in management studies, Sinha is president of the Textile Association (India) and chief advisor of the Business Advisors Group, a global sourcing company and defence supply specialist in Mumbai. But what really gets the 61 year-old going is discussing his pursuit of world records.
Besides lapel pins, Sinha’s collectibles include 3.6 million postal stamps, 12,000 miniature flags, 1,500 army symbols, rare coins and buttons. He says he inherited his passion for collecting from his father and grandfather, “although, back then, it was never done in an organised fashion”. He adds, “My work requires me to travel extensively throughout the world and I have a critical eye for antiques. During my international travels, I pick up vintage stuff at throwaway prices from garage sales or exhibitions.”
He began collecting lapel pins in 1991, with a count of 200, which included those given to him as a mark of honour for being president of Lion’s Club International. “I kept stacking up more pins and the count slowly reached 2,000,” he shares. “Once, while I was in the US, I met an 84 year-old gentleman who gave me his entire collection as he had no family. He also introduced me to people with different categories of pins. In this way, I learnt about different themes: defence pins, sports pins, election pins, flag pins, etc.” When the count reached 12,000 pins, Sinha decided he should etch his name in Guinness World Records. His research revealed that the record stood at 9,000, set 30 years ago, and he would have to double that number to better that mark.
There was more. Sinha would first have to qualify for three Indian records, like a Unique World Record or Limca record, get his pins audited, and participate in a few exhibitions. It took him 18 months to accomplish these goals and, in 2012, Guinness World Records certified his collection of 18,000 lapel pins. He then broke his own record, with 44,000 pins in 2015. Now he is all set to repeat the feat with 100,000 pins, in 2017.
In Sinha’s view, lapel pins are markers of world history. “Each pin depicts a message or a bit of history through the message inscribed on it,” he explains. “For instance, there was a collection with the message ‘Down with Saddam Hussein’ released during the Gulf War. There is another collection with American presidents; another one that reveals the history of guns; and yet another on the fire brigade with designs of engine on it.”
Taking his unique hobby a step further, Sinha also designs lapel pins for his Indian and overseas clients, and gets them manufactured in places like China and Japan. “I recently designed a series on postage stamps and am currently working on Alexander the Great. Of course, it involves in-depth research, both online as well as through research scholars.” During the assignment on Alexander the Great, Sinha hired a research scholar in London and recorded everything she said on the subject. “By the end of it, I had collected an ocean of information, from critical events in his life and his India visit to the movements of his army, and even their fear of monkeys and elephants. It is almost as if I know him personally.”
On setting records, Sinha says, “Setting records is particularly significant, as you experience contentment and learn so much in the process. On the other hand, I have had my share of challenges; fortunately, I have an efficient team in my wife and my son, who is based in London and collects pins for me.”
With the record of 100,000 pins looming, Sinha says his next goal is 150,000 pins. And how does he plan to take his hobby forward? “I do not think about the future,” he responds. “I am doing this to excel in unrelated fields and get an extra sense of achievement in life. I just live my life and my world will end with me.”
Photo courtesy: Arvind Sinha Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine February 2017
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