Notable numismatists earn hobby’s top honours

By Jesse Robitaille

Serge Pelletier and William Cross received some lofty and well-deserved recognition from the hobby at the 62nd annual convention of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA).

Pelletier was given Canadian numismatics’ highest honour, the J. Douglas Ferguson Award, for his great contributions to the advancement of the hobby in Canada over the past 12 months; however, his work in numismatics goes back much further than the past year.

And Cross, who has been involved in the hobby for an equally long time, earned the Paul Fiocca Award for his long-term meritorious service to the RCNA. He recently retired and sold Charlton Press, the renowned numismatic publishing company he took over from James E. Charlton in 1980.

“To me, it’s like joining the hall of fame,” said Pelletier, who has been involved in the hobby for nearly five decades. “It’s quite humbling when you read the names that have won it before. It’s rewarding.”

Incoming RCNA President Henry Nienhuis said Pelletier’s dedication to the hobby has not gone unnoticed.

“He’s often been ahead of his time on things he has proposed, and he is among the top numismatists who have received the Ferguson Award. He fits well into that category.”

Pelletier was only 19 when Charlton Press published his first book – a catalogue detailing trade dollars – in 1980. Since then, he has enjoyed much success in the field of numismatic literature.

“You have also published articles in many of the leading magazines and journals on a wide range of numismatic topics. Your work, The Canadian Dictionary of Numismatics/Le dictionnaire canadien de numismatique, is worthwhile as is your contribution in the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association correspondence course,” said Ron Greene, who announced Pelletier as this year’s Ferguson Award winner.

Greene – who along with Rob Forbes was named a Fellow of the RCNA this year – said it is Pelletier’s editorial abilities that places him so prominently among the hobby’s top numismatists.

Pelletier has served as editor of Le Numismate (for the Association des Numismates Francophones du Canada), Les monnaies (for Trajan Publishing), and most recently, moneta (for the Ottawa Numismatic Society).

“I’m now the editor of the Coins of Canada catalogue, and I will possibly restructure that,” he said. “Other than that, I’ll be preparing for the convention next year.”

He and fellow Ottawa Numismatic Society member Steve Woodland will be next year’s convention chairs. Slated for July 19-24, 2016, the 63rd annual RCNA Convention will be held in downtown Ottawa.


Cross said he was pleasantly surprised with the recognition he earned at this year’s convention but added he’s looking forward to retirement.

“It’s an honour to be chosen, and now I’m going to go enjoy retirement,” he said.

Nienhuis said Cross was a longtime supporter of the hobby as well as the RCNA, and his constant promotion made him one of the association’s top recruiters.

“Bill has been fundamental in moving the hobby forward with picking up the publication of Charlton Press, and I think he’s an icon in Canadian numismatics and I can’t think of anyone that deserves the award better than Bill Cross,” Nienhuis said.


The RCNA handed out a number of other awards in Halifax last month, honouring several esteemed numismatists for their work in the hobby.

The Jean Bullen Award for best Canadian decimal display went to 18-year-old John Siteman. In addition to two exhibit awards, Siteman also won an American Numismatic Association (ANA) Presidential Award.

“It was an honour,” said Siteman, whose mother also took home a first-place exhibit award, beating her son in the Foreign Coins and Tokens category. “I’m glad I got to share it with my mom.”

Siteman’s mother, along with Pelletier, also each earned an ANA Presidential Award.

This year’s Louise Graham Memorial “Club of the Year” award went to Le Club de Numismates du Bas St. Laurent.

The Guy Potter Literary Award was given to Ron Cheek while the Jerome H. Remick III Literary Award was given to Greg Zbitnew. Both are members of the Ottawa Numismatic Society.


Head exhibit judge Tim Henderson said this year’s exhibit class was very impressive.

“The exhibits were very good quality,” said Henderson, who added he was a little disappointed there were no junior exhibits. “Overall, I was very pleased. The judges had a difficult time, which is good.”

At the convention, Henderson announced he was handing the reigns over to James Williston, who at 50-years-old is confident he will break the 20-year record set by his predecessor.

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