Rare manuscripts by pioneer numismatist Robert McLachlan up for auction

Original manuscripts by Robert Wallace McLachlan, a prominent early Canadian numismatist, are up for auction in Kolbe & Fanning’s June 15 Sale 170.

Lot 221 features an original typescript of the “The Money of Canada from the Historical Stand Point,” delivered before the Royal Society of Canada in Ottawa in May 1915. This typescript is on plain paper, extensively revised in ink by the author, and includes his autograph at the end. It comprises 29 standard pure linen sheets, printed and written on one side only. Although the first page is slightly dusty, the document is overall described as “unique.” It was published separately with illustrations in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada and later reprinted in the December 1915 issue of The Numismatist. Most of the manuscript revisions were incorporated into The Numismatist article, with some stylistic and occasional other changes. It has a pre-sale estimate of $300 USD.

Lot 218 includes an 1889 original holograph manuscript in ink by McLachlan, listing mintage figures for Canadian and Newfoundland coinage. It was published in the 1890 issue of the Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal and subsequently as an offprint. The lot description states, “A foundational work in many respects on the decimal coinage of Canada and Newfoundland,” and it is considered the first attempt to compile mintage figures for Canadian coins in a numismatic journal. This lot has a pre-sale estimate of $300 USD.

Lot 220 offers the original typewritten manuscript for “The Copper Tokens of Upper Canada,” published in 1915. The manuscript includes extensive ink changes. It was published in the 1915 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics; an edition of 100 copies was published separately in 1916. The lot description notes, “Apparently edited for publication but still somewhat different from the printed work,” and it has a pre-sale estimate of $300 USD.

Lot 217 comprises 43 handwritten letters received by McLachlan, including correspondence with “British Canadian” Dr. J.W. Bastow, who wrote articles on Mexican coinage published in the American Journal of Numismatics. The letters, dated between 1884 and 1898, are mostly signed by the authors. The lot description states, “A remarkable correspondence file with important content on the numismatics of Mexico, Canada, and the United States.” This lot has a pre-sale estimate of $500 USD.

McLachlan, who lived in Montreal, published extensively on pre-Canadian Confederation coins, tokens, and medals. He served as the treasurer and curator of The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal for many years. Along with fellow numismatists Alfred Sandham, P. N. Breton, and Joseph Leroux, McLachlan’s works are considered foundational for Canadian numismatic research. In 1922, he sold his entire collection, estimated at 20,000 pieces, to The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal.

There are other Canadian centric books and manuscripts in the June sale. For more details visit the auction site and search under Canada or Canadian.

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