The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 43, October 26, 2008, Article 15


CN Journal editor Dan Gosling (an E-Sylum regular) forwarded the following text segments at my request. They appeared in the October 2008 and earlier issues of the journal, the official publication of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association. They're from a reprint of a reprint of a reprint of an article well worth reprinting - R. W. McLachlan's Some Reflections Upon Being Fifty Years a Coin Collector.

Originally published in The Numismatist in 1911 and later in The CN Journal Vol. 6, No. 12 December 1961, Jan., Mar., 1962, the article is a wonderful account of the 19th century numismatic world. The full article is well worth seeking out. It's the kind of first-hand account I relish publishing in The E-Sylum.

About the year 1862 I met J. L. Bronsdon and soon came to regard him as the best of mentors. A true .missionary. numismatist, he gave my early collecting efforts (in the form of some 250 different coppers) his sympathetic attention. Far from seeking to take advantage of my newness, he tried to encourage, or even inspire, this recent aspirant to seek the best. Seeing that I had neglected the commoner coins to be found in Canada at that time, he told me to make a specialty of them. His own collection in that area, I might add, was the most complete then in existence. He went on to counsel obtaining perfect specimens of all our denominations and varieties in current use . most notably, of the Bouquet Sous . since, one day, a majority of these would be rare.

Bronsdon recommended the purchase of a coin cabinet, for he thought that no one could seriously concentrate on a series without some system of classification; in his opinion larger numbers of pieces, varieties included, might scarcely be classified without proper housing. Such wholesome advice, followed to the best of my ability, led me into the truest pleasures of numismatics. His friendship for me initiated that Canadian collection which has continued to grow ever since until now (October 1911) when, including coins, tokens and medals, it numbers well on towards five thousand pieces.

During those early years of the Civil War and Lincoln.s Presidency reciprocal trade went on between our two countries; as prices rose more and more below the border, Canada was bound to benefit from the attentions of United States buyers. This situation also brought in, not only vast quantities of their silver, but much gold as well . among the latter many pieces of territorial gold.

Some days I received three or four slugs, both round and octagonal, exchanged at not more than 548 each. Numerous U.S. 55, $10, and $20 goldpieces arrived, too, including Pike.s Peak Bechtlers, California Assay Office specimens and the like, but I never saw any- Mormon issues, though constantly on the watch for them.

American silver included a fair number of their pre-1837 dates, considered of superior intrinsic value to subsequent ones. These early United States coins did not come to us from their country of origin at that time. however, but were released by French Canadian habitants who had hoarded them, long before, soon after minting and their importation hither; hence, they usually turned up in Extremely Fine condition.

Along with other such items, I secured an unusually beautiful 1796 Half Dollar . but a Vermont collector begged so hard, a few years ago, that he got it from me.

Montreal exchange brokers of the day included a firm known as Weir & Larminie. Now Larminie happened to be in New York City at the time encased postage stamps first made their brief appearance as wartime exchange media. On an impulse, he ordered some bearing his concern.s name on the back; upon arrival at their business destination in Canada, these promptly entered a display window, there to accompany sample greenbacks and other miscellanea.

I well remember the day of their advent in that place, and immediately purchasing one as a curiosity. Throwing the acquisition into a box, I completely forgot about its existence and certainly never considered Weir & Larminie.s encased U.S. stamp to be a coin. When it later commenced selling at prices above two dollars, however, this jogged my memory and out the specimen came from its previous, less dignified hiding-place to repose among rarities.

You have here the Weir & Larminie token.s explanation and an answer to that frequent question, .How did an encased United States postage stamp ever come to he issued in Canada?. Neither issued nor circulated in the normal way, it can only he classified as a freak advertisement put out by two Montreal exchange brokers.

Editor Dan Gosling adds:
I am trying to get a handle on how to define the content that is in The CN Journal. How would you rate this article (beginner, intermediate, advanced, all of these)?

The concept of whom articles are suited for and how many should be in Association publications would make a great thread.

I think this could be enjoyed by all levels of collectors, but I would classify it as advanced, because to be best appreciated it requires a familiarity with many areas of numismatics as well as the history of the U.S., Canada, and the hobby over the course of the period. -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

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