RCNA to host coin grading, preservation course

The Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) has announced its latest one-day workshop, this entitled “An Introduction to Coin Grading and Preservation,” which will be led by two trusted numismatic experts this November in Toronto.

RCNA President Bob Forbes will be joined by long-time conservator Susan Maltby, who worked for the Canadian Conservation Institute from 1985-88 before founding her own company, Maltby and Associates, more than three decades ago.

Following a previous introductory course, the upcoming session – to be held Nov. 23 from 9 a.m.-4:15 p.m. – will delve deeper into the technical aspects of coin grading, counterfeit detection, fakes and alterations, authentication and coin and paper money preservation.

“Although not a pre-requisite, participants would benefit from having taken the previous course,” reads a statement issued by the RCNA, which adds the course this November is aimed at “educating collectors about the technical side of grading Canadian coins.”

Forbes and Maltby will supplement their discussions with slides, demonstrations, handouts and displays of relevant numismatic material.

“The class size is deliberately kept small, facilitating the students to have an opportunity to interface, one-on-one, with instructors to either understand the material presented more clearly or to deal with other issues of interest to the student in the instructors’ areas of expertise.”


Following registration at 8:30 a.m. and a 10-minute introduction at 9 a.m., Forbes will begin with a three-hour coin-grading seminar.

In addition to being at the helm of the RCNA, Forbes previously served as the Ontario area director and first vice-president of the RCNA. Former chair of the Canadian Association for Numismatic Education (CAFNE), he’s also the deputy chair of the J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation.

In 2011, Forbes received the RCNA President’s Award for his work in creating and organizing CAFNE and was named a Fellow of the RCNA in 2015. He’s an annual platinum-level donor to both the RCNA and CAFNE.

Forbes is a collector of Canadian, Newfoundland and Maritime decimal coinage as well as royal portrait coinage of New France. He was the 2010 winner of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) Best New Set Award and the PCGS Gold Award in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 for his “Newfoundland Complete Set – Circulation Strikes 1865-1947.” He’s also the holder of several “Finest Sets of All Time” designations in the PCGS Set Registry.

“He is an expert in grading Canadian coinage having graded thousands of coins during the past number of years and is often asked by both dealers and collectors to consult on coin grading matters,” reads the RCNA statement.

Forbes’ session will explore the technical aspects of grading Canadian coins and cover the “three fundamentals of accurate and consistent grading: knowledge, technique and objectivity.”

Forbes will highlight important and widely used grading tips and methods, including “market grading” and the use of various coin-grading services. He will also lead a detailed discussion of the “fine points” distinguishing one grade from another, with close-ups of “coin problems,” specifically cleaned and altered pieces.

“This course is intended for students who know the basics of grading coins, have some grading experience and recognize those areas where they lack grading skills,” reads the RCNA statement. “All students are encouraged to bring examples of coins for class discussion. This course will help students resolve the confusion that sometimes accompanies grading coins.”


After a 50-minute lunch break, Maltby will begin her three-hour coin and paper money preservation seminar at 1 p.m.

One of the most important aspects for the preservation of coins, tokens and paper money is providing proper handling and storage. Collections can deteriorate with time if they’re stored incorrectly, and Maltby’s session will teach participants how to ensure a minimal reduction in the value of valuable numismatic material.

This advanced course will offer a practical “hands-on” lesson in the proper care and conservation of numismatic collections, including coins, tokens, medals and paper notes.

Topics discussed will include agents of deterioration; environmental requirements for numismatic collections; environmental monitoring techniques; establishing a controlled environment; storage; holders; and cleaning, care and handling of numismatic material.

Components of “great” coin and banknote holders; how to choose a holder; materials and holders to avoid; environmental requirements for different kinds of material, including metals, paper and “exotic materials,” will also be addressed.

Because of its importance in assessing the content of storage materials, Maltby will teach participants to perform the Beilstein test, which can be used to determine if a plastic contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC). She will also explain which material is safe and why.

Again, participants are urged to bring along problem pieces for examination and discussion.

RCNA Past President Henry Nienhuis will serve as the workshop’s moderator, and each participant will receive a special RCNA “certificate of participation.”


To be held at Humber College’s north campus on 205 Humber College Blvd., the day-long course will include a 45-minute break for lunch, the cost of which is not covered by the RCNA.

There will also be morning and afternoon breaks with complimentary coffee and tea.

Registration for the workshop is $95. Registrants are asked to send a cheque along with their contact information to Royal Canadian Numismatic Association, 5694 Highway #7 East, Suite 432, Markham ON Canada L3P 1B4.

Registrants will receive confirmation of their acceptance along with detailed directions to the community room of Humber College’s north campus.

For more information, contact RCNA Executive Secretary Paul Johnson at 647-401-4014 or info@rcna.ca.

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