Collecting local materials is a fun challenge

By Jeff Fournier

What do you know about the numismatic items that have been produced for your city or town? I’ll bet, not a lot. I would also bet that you would be surprised to find out that there have been several numismatic issues in your area and in the case of cities and towns such as Wildwood (Alta.), Sudbury (Ont.), or Vancouver (B.C.), they may even number in the dozens, hundreds, or like Toronto (Ont.), in the thousands. Wow!

I think I first became fascinated with local numismatics in the early 1970s when I discovered some medals issued to commemorate Sudbury’s Big Nickel.

In 1973, my Grade 3 teacher gave me a very large, antiqued bronze medal that had been issued to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Moose Factory (Ont.). I was born and raised in North Bay (Ont.) and when the city celebrated the 50th anniversary of the its incorporation with a one dollar municipal token issue in 1975. That’s when  I think the collecting bug really got the better of me.

Since then, I have come to realize just how interesting – and challenging –  collecting local numismatics can be.

Take for example, a previous article I wrote in Canadian Coin News about merchant token collector, Harry James, who has literally spent decades collecting and cataloguing the tokens issued in Elgin County and other counties in his ‘neighbourhood’.

My particular interest spans the entire gamut of municipal numismatic issues from a few, very particular communities, including Sudbury and North Bay.

In the mid-’80s, for example, I began collecting Sudbury numismatic items in earnest and in 1995, I released a catalogue that covered all known municipal and merchant tokens, wooden pieces, Masonic pennies, local scrip and commemorative medals issued in that area. Since then, my personal collection of Sudbury numismatic items has grown to about 350 pieces and the second edition of Sudbury numismatics is now underway to update my first edition.

Along with James’ 10 merchant token volumes, I have also come across a few other numismatic publications that cover local numismatics in some detail. The Alberni Valley Coin Club of British Columbia, for example, issued a catalogue of all known numismatic items issued in the Alberni Valley. Titled, Tokens, Trade Dollars and other Numismatica of the Alberni Valley, the 8 ½ X 5 ½ catalogue was produced on the occasion of the club’s 30th anniversary. It is very well illustrated and serves as a good model for other individuals or clubs wishing to catalogue numismatic items in their area.

There are, undoubtedly, other catalogues of this type available, but one thing is for certain, there are many numismatic research opportunities still available to collectors.

In this issue of CCN (and since the ONA convention will be held in Kitchener Waterloo this year) I thought it might be nice to include a brief article about some of the numismatic issues from the KW area; so please feel free to read that article. I hope you enjoy it. Perhaps it will provide the impetus you need to start researching and collecting the many numismatic issues from your city or town. Maybe someday, you might consider writing your own catalogue so that you may share what you have learned with the rest of the numismatic community.

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