My story of collecting currency
Where to begin? I have collected coins and studied numismatics, the history of the World's money, for over 40 years. I started when I was with 12 with a penny collection and a Mountie quarter and soon discovered my first coin shop. I hung around there so much, they finally had no choice but to put me to work. I was given a broom and a rag and I started at the bottom. Wow, what an experience this was going to turn out to be.
Over the ensuing years I worked for coin shops, either behind the counter or on a consulting basis. I have had the honour of serving on the Executive of the local Numismatic Society for over 12 years, serving 4 terms as President. I was the recipient of the Donald D. Paterson Award in 1993, and the Society bestowed an Honorary Life Membership to me in 2002. With the assistance of other members, I chaired Coin Week activities during the 90's and founded a Junior Club for the next generation.
Every city should be as fortunate as ours to have a numismatic museum. It has been a pleasure to volunteer with the Curator and the team. They have given me the opportunity to share some of my collection with the public. The first time was in China through the Eye of the Coin, December 1998 to March 1999. It had such a popular response we expanded it for the Year of the Dragon and displayed it from the Chinese New Year till the end of the summer. At this time I was Associate Curator with Geraldine Chimirri-Russell, and at the same time, I loaned numerous items for the exhibition Women in Profile: Famous, Fabulous & Forgotten.
In September 2000 The Money / Argent Show went on display across the nation with almost one thousand items on display. The show opened in our nations capital in November 2002 and I was proud to be there representing the team who worked so hard to put it together. The show exhibited until April 2003. We also organized annual 'Road Shows' to the museum, and where the first few years were just for numismatic items, it grew to include antiques of all sorts.
In June of 1998, I made my first appearance as "Garth the Coin Guy" on A Channel's The Big Breakfast show (popularly known today as Breakfast Television). What an experience, I never would have dreamed it would have lasted over 10 years - it was a ton of fun working with Dave Kelly and his team. Thus began another turn of events, where I worked with the TV and movie prop and production companies supplying the right coin, paper money, and antiques.
I often get asked "What is your favourite piece in your collection?"
There are two. My blacksmith token and Ming Note.
I found the blacksmith token (CH - BL #19) for twenty cents in a junk coin bin in 1991. It is only the second one ever found to date. The first one was discovered by the late Robert C. Willey in the 70's and bought for a dime. His piece was gifted to the People of Alberta and can now be viewed in the public archives of The Provincial Museum of Alberta in Edmonton.
The Ming Note is the oldest paper money available to any collector. It is the last of the hoard brought out of China after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. A Swedish doctor collected almost a hundred notes from the soldiers who found them under Statues of Buddha in the Forbidden City. They were exclusively sold through the paper money operation of SPINKS, London - the oldest coin shop in the world.
I have learnt many things from my years collecting, from world politics, geography, history, and social studies, not to mention making countless friends along the way. Collecting currency continues to be a truly wonderful experience.
Shanghai Noon, 2000
Texas Rangers, 2001
Open Range, 2003
When Calls of Heart, 2009
CIBC Montage Series 1999-2000
The Big Breakfast Show / Breakfast Television, 1998 - 2009
President of the Calgary Numismatic Society, 1997-2001