The National Currency Collection was formed in 1959 to preserve for posterity examples of Canadian bank notes issued by chartered banks and other institutions prior to the creation of the Bank of Canada in 1934. By the early 1960s the focus of the Collection was enlarged to be as comprehensive as possible with regard to Canadian money, while still including representative samples of foreign money. Today, this remains the direction for acquiring additional material for the Collection.
As a general strategy, materials are acquired to strengthen the depth of the Collection in areas of current specialization and recognized historical interest, i.e., Canadian money and money-related artifacts. Curatorial staff also seek out representative samples of money and artifacts from other cultures and eras. Particularly sought after are items not currently represented in the Collection and artifacts whose provenance or association is of particular importance to Canada’s numismatic heritage.
Articles are acquired through purchase, donations, bequests, trade, loan, and transfer. The Chief Curator is ultimately responsible for ensuring that acquisitions are made in accordance with the principles and guidelines laid out by the Collection’s policy, in consultation with the Collection’s Acquisition Committee and/or other curators.
The Collection is not based solely on bank notes; it includes traditional and ethnographical artifacts that fulfill at least one of the classic definitions of money, as:
- A medium of exchange (e.g., coins, tokens, paper money, scrip, cheques)
- A store of value (e.g., ingots, bonds) or
- A unit of account (e.g., tally sticks)
In addition, the Collection also assembles related materials that demonstrate:
- The creation of money (e.g., dies, rolls, plates, graving tools)
- The institution and use of money (e.g., store ledgers, account books)
- The measurement of money (e.g., weights, scales)
- The study of money (e.g., numismatic cards)
- The criminalization of money (e.g., counterfeits)
- The containment of money (e.g., cash registers, savings banks)