Recent News

September 9, 2012 - Bill McDonald’s coins at auction

The ancient coin collection of Bill McDonald will be offered in a public sale by Geoffrey Bell Auctions on September 27, 2012. This auction is being held in conjunction with the Toronto Coin Expo. There are 275 lots that comprise Bill’s collecting interest of 100 B.C to 100 A.D. – Toronto Coin Expo Fall Sale


April 15, 2012 - Bruce Brace’s coins at auction

The Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (CNG) will be offering 94 lots from the collection of CMNS co-founder Bruce R. Brace in their upcoming printed auction - CNG 90. These coins are featured as "The Bruce R. Brace Collection of Roman Coins" and are select Republican and Imperial coins from his collection. The auction will close May 23, 2012.

CNG 90 Catalogue

Additionally, CNG eAuction #296 has 434 lots of Greek, Roman Provincial, Roman Republican and Imperial coins.


May 14, 2011 - Passing of Bill McDonald


It was with a strong feeling of the passing of an era that the death of William H. (Bill) McDonald was announced on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Bill was a huge force in Canadian numismatics, founder of the CPMS (Canadian Paper Money Society), the CMNS (Classical and Medieval Numismatic Society) and the Ferguson Foundation.

Bill, born in Winnipeg in 1924 into a large family, left home to join the Navy in 1943. (He spoke of picking apples in the Annapolis Valley, a task used by the military to keep their young recruits busy, and of a train trip to the west coast where he was to take up ship. Passing through his home town, his father met the train and slipped him a flask of whiskey: “You’re a man now, Bill.”) He joined the RCNVR and for the duration of the World War II sailed on patrol and trade missions in the south Pacific. After the war, Bill left the west for Ottawa and Gwen joined him a year later where they were married in 1950. Bill now began his long career as a banker, eventually joining the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto, the city which remained his much-loved home for the rest of his life.

Bill’s career climbed with the explosive growth of the post-war city; he was involved in mortgage writing for the developers of the old Henry Farm for example, which became a fine planned community and the site of the McDonalds’ family home.

It was his banking career that first sparked his primary collecting interest: paper money, and specifically banknotes. His collection of these grew to enormous proportions. At one time a display of his collection at the Toronto-Dominion Centre encompassed seventy showcases. In a demonstration of the numismatic adage to buy the book before the coin, Bill put together a collection of books on banking history which filled three walls of his home library. Bill was always interested in the learning aspect of numismatics and to further spread his own commitment to paper money he founded the CPMS and with it, its publication which is still operating today.

After his retirement from banking, Bill felt the need of another challenge. He turned to a small collection of ancient coins he had bought and put away years before and for information about them developed a friendship with Bruce Brace, the foremost ancient numismatist of his day in Canada. Bruce introduced Bill to the rest of the ancient coin spectrum and suggested he limit himself to one facet of this very wide field.

Bill wisely chose the period from 100 BC to AD 100 and for the rest of his collecting career stuck pretty closely to that, although if a coin of the emperor Trajan attracted him he wouldn’t quibble if its minting date was 102 or even 110. His particular interest was the coinage of Juba II and Cleopatra Selene. Coins of this king of Numidia are not rare but ones including the portrait of his queen are. (Cleopatra Selene was the daughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII). Bill spent some time hunting one down, finally finding one in an Edmonton listing on eBay.

As in the case of paper money, Bill wanted to spread information on his new interest. To this end he founded the Classical and Medieval Numismatic Society, in partnership with Bruce Brace in 1991. This was accompanied by a pair of publications: the annual Picus and the quarterly newsletter Anvil. In 2000 these two publications were replaced by a card-covered quarterly, the CMNS Journal which contained both scholarly and general interest articles. Four issues a year were mailed from an ‘assembly line’ around the McDonald dining room table and the ‘world-wide distribution centre’ staff then made their way to the post office with 300 copies to be mailed from Toronto to Tehran, Athens to Australia. After that the mailing team (same as the editorial team and the office staff) made their way to the Fish House for a well deserved post-publication dinner.

At one time Bill and Gwen even ran a mail order book business from their home. Called Marlcourt Books it carried most publications in print for ancient numismatics and sent out many rare and out-of-print resources too.

Bill would be happy to know he is so much remembered for his dissemination of numismatic information. Whether it was the founding of societies, publications, books or seminars Bill was a giant in Canadian numismatics and he will be long remembered for that.

He leaves his wife Gwen, their daughter Barb and her family, close friends in the Chedoke Numismatic Society of Hamilton Ontario, Feathers (a numismatic club named for the pub it started in) and thousands in the larger numismatic world for whom the contributions of Bill McDonald are now fond memories.