University of Waterloo highlights 209-coin Pyke Collection

On Oct. 4, the University of Waterloo’s library and classical studies department hosted an intimate open house at the Dana Porter Library.

The event highlighted the Pyke Collection, featuring 209 ancient coins ranging from the Persian Empire of the sixth century BCE through 19th-century Britain, held in the Special Collections & Archives (SCA). The collection’s namesake Edgar William Pyke worked as a high school classics teacher and collected the coins to use for teaching examples in his classes.

“The coins reflect the development of the monetary systems, art, religion and shifting borders of the world,” according to the October Waterloo Coin Society (WCS) Newsletter, which added Elizabeth Kerr donated the coins to the SCA in 2019.


Born on April 12, 1891, Edgar William Pyke  collected coins to use for teaching examples for his classes as a high school classics teacher. Raised in Toronto, he attended McMaster University until the First World War interrupted his schooling. Pyke enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on May 20, 1916, before being sent to fight in France. Wounded at Vimy in April 1917 after suffering a shrapnel wound to the left arm and chest, he was invalided back to Canada and recovered at the Central Military Convalescence Hospital before returning to his studies. He graduated in 1919 and was able to secure employment as a classics teacher. On Aug. 4, 1925, he married Ethel Morgan, of England. Pyke died in 1981 and is buried at Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

The university extended a special invitation to WCS members to attend the open house, with club President Tony Verbruggen and Treasurer Brent Mackie in attendance.

“They brought with them a display case with a full set of medals issued by the club from 1961 through 1972 as well as our 35th anniversary currency and our souvenir treasury notes.”

On display was a selection of the collection’s ancient coins focusing on the 400-200 BCE range from the Greek, Roman and Persian empires.

“Tony and Brent were also permitted to browse the rest of the collection that was not on display. Many more ancient coins as well as coins right up to the 19th century were seen including a rare ‘Gothic’ crown featuring Queen Victoria.”

WCS officials hope to invite university representatives to a future meeting to highlight the collection’s coins for members.

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