By Jesse Robitaille
Len Buth has been named the recipient of the coveted J. Douglas Ferguson Award – the highest distinction in Canadian numismatics – which is given annually at the convention of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) for “distinguished service to the hobby.”
Buth, a prominent numismatic author and board member of the J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation, immigrated to Canada in November 1949. Four years later, his neighbour gave him a communion token, beginning a collection that continues to the present day. In more than 60 years spent collecting anything from tokens to coins and medals, Buth has also earned a name as a top numismatic judge.
“Your contributions to Canadian numismatics have been multi-faceted,” said Ron Greene, who’s also a J. Douglas Ferguson Foundation director. “You have written several dozen articles in Numismatic Canada, the Canadian Token and your local numismatic society bulletin. You have prepared the text and images for a number of PowerPoint presentations and given many talks. You have shared your research with other researchers and assisted them.”
Buth, a resident of London, Ont., said he wasn’t expecting to receive this “great honour” at the yearly convention.
“It was a great honour to get the news, and it was a pleasant surprise. One doesn’t contribute to the hobby looking for adulation or recognition, but when your peers do recognize you, it’s a good a feeling,” he said. “I was very appreciative to get the recognition. Whether it’s for a local coin club or an article, I don’t mind rolling up my sleeves and helping where required.”
In announcing Buth as this year’s Ferguson Award winner, Greene commended the long-time collector’s dedication to all sides of the hobby.
“Your books on W.R. McColl – both his iconic sale of 1903 and his life (in conjunction with another author) – are both valuable additions to our numismatic knowledge. You have served as treasurer or president of several organizations, such as the J.D. Ferguson Historical Research Foundation, and the Numismatic Education Society of Canada. You have been a judge at the RCNA conventions for more than a dozen years, and organized the London Numismatic Society shows for many years and have served as the general manager of an ONA Annual Convention. In addition, you have not been reluctant to row up your sleeves and help in the mundane tasks of setting up and dismantling shows and conventions.”
‘A LOT OF FUN’
Buth said he has been collecting for “a long time,” since he was about 10-years-old.
“As I got older, I started to diversify a bit,” he said. “I enjoy collecting tokens, and I especially enjoy doing research on tokens that have not been previously identified or catalogued. It’s very interesting to take an unknown name and then try through the use of a directory or census data to pinpoint who the individual was. It’s a lot of fun.”
Although he enjoys token collecting, Buth doesn’t “confine” himself to that area of the hobby.
“I’ve got 12 files in my office here at various stages of completion. Some are close to being done, and others will take another five or six months,” he said. “It can be a slow process, but I haven’t hung up or stopped yet. Sometimes my research has dictated what I can find, either from at shows or dealers who have an idea what I collect.”
One of the dozen files he’s currently working with is the court case of a London, Ont. gunsmith from the 1850s.
“There’s a numismatic aspect, but not necessarily,” he said. “I venture off once in a while.”