By Jesse Robitaille
Long-time collector Scott Douglas, whose decades of hobby experience has brought him widespread numismatic acclaim, has begun disposing of his literature collection through Manitoba dealer Howard Engel.
Douglas, a celebrated author, researcher and leader in organized numismatics, considers his literature collection “as treasured as any of my numismatic collections,” many of which he has assembled throughout his life. A coin collector since his youth, he began specializing in Canadian tokens and medals in 1992, the same year he dove into organized numismatics. All the while, his hobby endeavours were bolstered by books.
“It has taken me many years to put together my library,” said Douglas, who after three decades in organized numismatics plans to retire from many of his leadership roles through 2022. “I learned instantly that if I was to get the most out of my collections, I would need to know as much as I could about them.”
Books, he added, are “an obvious solution.”
“Over time, my books have proven to be invaluable in my numismatic research. Some books contain information not readily known or available today. Catalogues of numismatic sales, old and new, are the greatest source of information and can offer an answer to the rarity of a numismatic item better than anything else available.”
What once filled three large libraries spread across his home – one on each floor – will now serve as the main inventory for Engel’s business Richard Stockley Books, which he acquired in 2019.
“I’m most honoured,” Engel, a Winnipeg resident, told CCN during this July’s convention of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) in Ottawa. “It’s a very significant collection, and he could have had someone auction it off, but he had enough faith in me as a dealer and felt that he would get a fair shake – and it’s going to stay in Canada for the most part.”
In mid-July, the weekend before the convention, Engel met Douglas at his home in Acton, Ont., to take stock of the collection, including the first three boxes of material he then offered at the RCNA show.
Douglas plans to deliver the next major portion of his literature collection – upwards of 20 boxes of material packed into a rental van – to Engel this April.
“There is a degree of sadness for me when I part with anything that has brought me pleasure,” said Douglas. “My library is no exception. As I take books off my shelf for the last time, I am often reminded of the circumstances in how I acquired the book. Over the years, I have had great long-distance conversations with numismatic bookseller friends, many of whom have passed away or retired from the trade now.”
He recalled many late-night conversations centred on Canadian numismatic literature with late friend Phil Carrigan, of the United States, with whom he was “always discussing new finds or buying strategies on items coming up in literature auctions.”
“After Phil passed away in 2018, I found I really missed those exchanges and still do to this day.”
His decision to sell much of his current library “is a practical one for the most part,” Douglas added.