Four-speaker RCNA Symposium returns this July

The Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) will host a two-day educational symposium during its virtual convention this July.

Considered an indispensable part of the usual in-person convention, the symposium features four prominent speakers detailing distinct numismatic topics. On both days – July 17-18 – the symposium will run from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., with Calgary’s James Williston and Toronto’s Paul Johnson serve as the moderators on days one and two, respectively. It’s open to everyone to attend for free.

“I feel truly honoured to be invited to speak at this year’s RCNA virtual symposium,” said Marina Fischer, a numismatic collection specialist at the University of Calgary’s Nickle Galleries, who leads the opening presentation. “These annual events are an excellent opportunity to explore numismatic topics from different and sometimes unexpected angles. In my talk, I will look at ancient coins as works of art, something I am really passionate about.”

Entitled “Ancient Coins as Art,” Fischer’s talk begins at 1 p.m. on July 17. Understanding coins are more than just mere currency but also serve as “fascinating, intriguing and wonderful miniature works of art,” she will explore ancient Greek coinage, Hellenistic coin portraits plus coin jewelry “of unparalleled beauty and history.”

Fischer, who earned her master’s degree in ancient history with a specialization in art history from the University of Calgary, focuses on ancient Greek and Roman coinage in her research. In her role with the Nickle Galleries, she oversees 23,000 numismatic objects spanning from the beginning of coinage in the seventh century BCE through the modern day. In 2018, she received a University of Calgary Teaching Award.


Later that day at 2:30 p.m., long-time Saskatoon Coin Club (SCC) President Cliff Beattie will lead the second symposium presentation on “Collecting Canadian $1 Banknote Vignettes.”

In past years, banknote vignettes were largely ignored by banknote collectors – also known as notaphilists – however, this trend changed with the American Bank Note Company and British American Bank Note Company’s archival auctions. With large numbers of vignettes available to collectors for the first time, more people began exploring what Beattie called “a relatively inexpensive aspect” to collecting banknote design material.

His presentation will highlight the vignette-production process while providing historical context for various printing company’s engraving departments. A collector since 1960, he will also discuss his experience collecting vignettes on Canadian $1 notes.

In addition to serving at the helm of the SCC since 1988, Beattie is a past president of the Canadian Paper Money Society (CPMS) and a former member of the Bank of Canada’s national currency collection acquisition advisory committee.


On July 18, at 1 p.m., former Bank of Canada Museum chief curator Paul Berry, of Ottawa, Ont., will highlight “The Sign of the Golden Fleece: The Rutherford Tokens (Breton 952-953).”

Berry will explore both the trade and tokens of the Rutherfords, five Scottish brothers in Newfoundland, before the colony adopted decimalization. Known as “rams” owing to their distinctive motif, the tokens are believed to have comprised to main copper circulating medium in mid-19th-century Newfoundland.

“These tokens today are readily recognizable by collectors but not well understood,” reads the June 2021 CN Journal, the RCNA’s official publication. “Using contemporary records and modern analyses, this presentation sheds light upon their issue against the turbulent socio-economic history of Newfoundland.”

An avid numismatist since age six, Berry retired as the Bank of Canada Museum’s chief curator in 2019 after a 35-year career. He is a past president of the CPMS and Canadian Numismatic Research Society.

Later that day at 2:30 p.m., Jeff Wilson, of Borden, Ont., will conclude the symposium with a presentation on “Nova Scotia Exhibition Medals.”

He’ll take a historical look at the prize medals handed out to participants at three exhibitions held in Halifax, N.S., beginning in 1854 and running through 1907:

  • the Annual Provincial Nova Scotia Exhibitions, whose medals were issued from 1854-1907;
  • the 1894 Nova Scotia Agricultural Exhibition, which was only held once; and
  • the 1906 Dominion Exhibition, which was also held once.

“The presentation illustrates lots of different varieties of medals and a couple of issues that are not listed in The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Exhibition Fair Carnival Medals,” reads the recent CN Journal.

An RCNA Fellow, Wilson began collecting at age six after his mother gave him a Whitman folder for one-cent coins. He has collected Canadian medals since 2000, since which time he has assembled a nearly complete set of Atlantic Provinces Numismatic Association (APNA) and Ontario Numismatic Association medals (plus every RCNA Convention medal). He also collects late 19th- and early 20th-century Canadian medals, world coins and more.

A life member of the APNA and Halifax Regional Coin Club, the latter of which he served as president from 2010-13, Wilson is currently at the helm of the Georgian Bay Coin and Stamp Club.

To read more about this year’s virtual RCNA Convention, including a full program of events, click here.

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