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Home/Stories and articles/People
December 2003

Juan Manuel Casanueva, medal collector:
Metals memory

He's the manager of a telecommunications company, and member of the board of Chile's Cultural Heritage Corporation. Engineer Juan Manuel Casanueva is also part of the reduced tribe of medal collectors in Chile. His is a collection dedicated to national pieces -or international medals thay may have Chile as their motif. The Republic's Centennial, the Pacífico War, our Independence or the election of a new President. Those are the landmarks that get coined forever in metal.

By Rosario Mena

The last Wednesday of every month, at 6:30 pm, the members of the reduced Medal Collectors Circle get together at the National Historical Museum, an institution that possesses an important collection of these pieces of metal. There, they share experiences and items, discuss about their hobby, show their most valuable pieces and their last buyings. Their activity gets registered every year in a publication called, simply, "Medallas". Among them, there is engineer Juan Manuel Casanueva, manager of a telecommunications company and member of the board of Chile's Cultural Heritage Corporation.

"Generally, these are professionals from different areas. There are some historians, like Sergio Martinez Baeza and Hernan Rodriguez, who was the founder. There are collectors who only focus on medals about niter-offices. Others, just to trains. There are a lot of the latter", says Casanueva.

Since his childhood, Casanueva has been motivated by the issue of Cultural Heritage. In the collection of medals, he has not only found a path for knowing more about Chilean History, but also how to get involved in different causes. He's part of Chile's Cultural Heritage Corporation since its foundation, in 1995. "After 1985's earthquake, we formed a comission with architects and engineers to evaluate the status of Santiago's oldest buildings. We made an agreement with the former mayor, Carlos Bombal, and got to rescue from demolition a lot of Architectural Heritage. What we couldn't save, though, was the Portal Edwards".

His collection is dedicated to medals -from Chile or abroad- whose only motif is our country. For example, those made in Peru about the Pacifico War, or in Argentina, about the Independence process. "Now, I'm also looking for medals about Pope John Paul the II. There are a lot, because he travels so much, and every time he goes to a country he gets at least one medal done. I don't think I get to find them all". Among his most valuable pieces, Casanueva highlights those belonging to the series of square medals fabricated in France to celebrate the Republic's Centennial, in 1910, and the medals about the Pacifico War.

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