Numismatic research possibilities are endless

Every Sunday, I get an electronic bulletin from the Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS). The Society is an educational organization founded in 1979 to support and promote the use and collecting of numismatic literature which includes books, periodicals, catalogues and other written or printed material relating to coins, medals, tokens, or paper money, ancient or modern, Canada or worldwide.

In one issue, not so long ago, I read with interest a number of comments from readers about what’s left to research in numismatics. One fellow was looking for ideas for a research project but had hit a brick wall since his opinion was everything had been done as far as numismatic research in the U.S. was concerned. Readers jumped on this and began listing all of the topics had not been researched or written about in any great depth.

Another fellow went on to say how he felt there were perhaps a hundred or more topics could be researched still, and gave examples of some areas of United States’ numismatics that were wanting. He also expanded his opinion to include all of the areas in world numismatics that were lacking and needed some serious research.

As I sat there reading all of this, I couldn’t help but think about all of the areas in Canadian numismatics that still need to be researched and just how many possibilities there are for numismatic books to be written on previously unresearched areas.

One hundred research projects this fellow quoted as being the number of areas might still need to be researched in the U.S. seemed only a miniscule number when I went over in my head the number of projects I have on the go and how many more I wish I had the time to tackle.

My number would likely be in the thousands. And that’s for Canadian numismatics alone! That’s right. There are thousands of numismatic research projects, in Canada alone, that any numismatist might tackle. Does that figure seem rather high to you? Well, it certainly doesn’t seem high to me.

Back in the mid 1990s, for example, I published a book entitled, Sudbury Numismatics. That’s over 20 years ago. In it, I covered the tokens, masonic ‘pennies’, commemorative medals, scrips and so forth that had been issued in or for the Regional Municipality of Sudbury. Since I published that book, I have been keeping detailed notes about new issues and I am now at a point where I will be able to publish a second edition.

Now, I say to you, do you know what numismatic items have been issued in your city or town? Maybe, or maybe not. But what a great research project this would be for you or your club, especially in this, the 150th anniversary of our great country.

I think of some catalogues that have already been done, but that need updating, or of all the municipalities in Canada that haven’t been researched – numismatically speaking – to date. I am also working on a catalogue of numismatic items issued in my hometown of North Bay, Ont.

But I know of other municipalities that would be great to tackle – to research and put together a complete list of all known numismatic items that have ever been issued. A few years ago, the late Tom Rogers tackled Woodstock Coin Club medals. Back in the 1990s, the Alberni Valley Coin Club in B.C. tackled numismatic items from their area and released a booklet.

Serge Pelletier, well known Canadian numismatic researcher, writer and collector, did a great job in publishing various catalogues about Canadian municipal tokens in the late 1970s through to 2008, but now, it’s been over eight years since anything has been seriously done on this subject, other than a catalogue covering municipal tokens in Quebec.

I always thought 2017 would be a good year to get down to business when it came to numismatic research in Canada. That it would be a perfect year to ignite some imaginations and instill in collectors a desire to do a little bit of numismatic research of their own.  And that’s what I would like to encourage here.

One project is already on the go for 2017: a catalogue of Canadian centennial medals and tokens, which has been in the works for some time now by a handful of collectors in the Canadian Centennial Collectors Club. I am also working on a catalogue of Canadian Coin Club medals which I hope to publish soon. I have really only touched the tip of the iceberg here. It’s been decades since any major attempt has been made to issue a catalogue of Canadian type coins, for example.

Tons of research projects await those wishing to embark on a research journey which looks at the chartered banknotes or even Canadian Government issued banknotes, not to mention merchant script. There’s still a lot to be done on the 1954 ‘devils face’ serious of banknotes, for example.

The possibilities really are endless. Give it some thought. Will 2017 be the year you delve into a numismatic research project? I sure hope so. We could certainly need some fresh numismatic publications on the shelf.

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