Museum lands rarities

pg15-n-moneyA rare 15-pence post office note issued in 1837 in Montreal was among items recently acquired by the Bank of Canada Museum. Courtesy Bank of Canada MuseumAfter a three-year closure the former Canadian Currency Museum on Wellington Street has begun to stir back to life with a series of acquisitions in advance of its grand reopening and rebranding as the Bank of Canada Museum. 

The museum is set to reopen in 2017 with a glass pyramid marking its new entry and an expanded set of temporary and permanent exhibition halls. 

Paul Berry, the chief curator of the museum, joined monetary history enthusiasts from around the country for a two-day auction in May at a collectibles store in Montreal. In November, Berry published a post describing his acquisitions.

After spending more than $20,000 at the auction, Berry had acquired a variety of items, including three rare pieces of French regime money distributed during the ongoing wars in North America between France and England in the mid-18th-century. 

“It turned out to be very profitable as we acquired these very significant pieces for the collection,” Berry said. “They will go long ways to help fill certain voids we had in the collection as they give us more depth in terms of the materials.”

One of the most significant items Berry purchased was a Montreal post office note issued in 1837. While the museum already has a six-pence note from that time, the 15-pence note Berry acquired at the auction is only the second known to exist.

During its three-year shutdown, the museum sought to expand its collection from just currency to display more information and artifacts related to Canadian history. 

The new attractions include Canadian stock certificates, a cash register and the earliest credit cards in Canada, according to Berry.

Steve White, a political science professor at Carleton University, said the revamped museum will have an important role to play. “By educating the public about social, economic, and political issues, museums can certainly play a role in promoting civic engagement,” White said. 

Jenny Giang, a frequent visitor to the former currency museum, echoed White’s comment.

“The Bank of Canada has been a pillar of sustaining our economy and I think that the reopening of the museum will help educate Canadians about the history behind the economic policy decisions that impact them every day,” Giang said.