Dec. 22, 2023

UCalgary acquires extensive library once held by Royal Canadian Numismatic Association

Collection enhances Nickle Galleries holdings of 23,000 artifacts of coins and paper money
A closeup shot of a bookshelf
Part of the Calgary Numismatic Society / Royal Canadian Numismatic Association Library acquired by Nickle Galleries. Courtesy Marina Fischer

For decades, UCalgary’s Nickle Galleries has had the largest and most important academic coin collection in Canada, the Nickle Numismatic Collection. This rich teaching and research resource comprises over 16,000 ancient Greek and Roman coins, 7,000 medieval coins as well as early modern coins, bank notes and non-Western currencies. It also includes significant holdings of related artifacts dating from the 7th century BCE.

Now, Nickle Galleries is also home to an extensive library curated by the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association and consisting of more than 5,000 items. The collection includes reference and rare books, manuscripts, periodicals and ephemera relating to coins, medals, tokens and bank notes. It covers ancient and modern historic periods, countries and continents, in a number of different languages.

Many of the Nickle’s existing holdings were donated by the Nickle’s founder, Carl Nickle, and local collectors and numismatists Lionel Conn and Paul De Groot. With the addition of the RCNA collection, UCalgary is now home to the largest, most comprehensive and wide-ranging numismatic library in the country.

“The currency collection and its library augment the students’ in-class learning experience,” says Marina Fischer, curator of numismatics at Nickle Galleries. “They provide an alternative approach to the development of critical thinking and research skills. The collection makes UCalgary a hub for numismatics expertise and the study of money.”

Nickle Galleries

Marina Fischer, curator of numismatics at Nickle Galleries, with Gordon Schiele, Neil Probert and Ron Moore of the Calgary Numismatics Society.

Courtesy Marina Fischer

This acquisition was possible because of a generous donation from the Calgary Numismatic Society (CNS), an important community partner.

Earlier this year, the CNS also donated $50,000 to create an annual scholarship for a student studying numismatics at UCalgary.

The endowment was created “to make a significant long-term numismatic contribution within the community,” CNS President Tom Woznow told Canadian Coin News. “Knowing that the University of Calgary has the Nickle Numismatic Collection with large numismatic holdings, we wanted to enhance the study opportunities by providing funding that could be paid out yearly to a student who will be studying and working within the field of numismatics.”

The study of numismatics offers unique insights into history, cultures, faith, political economies, propaganda, gender and diversity, and provides many research and experiential learning opportunities on campus and in the broader community.

“Ancient material culture is not easy to access in Alberta. For many of our students, the Nickle Numismatic Collection is their first opportunity to engage directly with objects made and held by the ancient people we study,” explains Dr. Lindsay Driediger-Murphy, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Classics and Religion.

“It is always a thrill to see how the coins bring the material to life, and how they amaze and inspire the community.”

The collection’s title is the CNS RCNA Library, accessible by loan and in person through Libraries and Cultural Resources. For additional information, please contact Marina Fischer .

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