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Beads to Bytes - Canada's National Currency Collection

By Banque du Canada    |   Monday, 1 December 2008

Money has always been a source of endless fascination. Few can do without it, and the quest to acquire it, through both fair means and foul, has preoccupied people throughout history. It has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil, but in reality no modern civilization could function without it. Money is the lubricant of commerce, linking buyers and sellers, borrowers and lenders.

Beads to Bytes: Canada's National Currency Collection, the fourth in a series of books about the Bank of Canada, explores money and the role it has played, and continues to play, in society, through the lens of Canada's National Currency Collection. The Collection is an extraordinary repository of coins, bank notes, and related paraphernalia from around the world. Naturally, the strength of the Collection lies in its Canadian components. Assembled initially through government acquisition of important private collections and enhanced by judicious purchases and donations, the National Currency Collection represents the finest and most complete collection of Canadian notes, coins, and tokens in the world. Examples from the Collection are showcased in the Bank of Canada's Currency Museum.

The book begins with a chapter on the definition of money, illustrated with examples from the Collection and highlighting money's various functions and the wide range of objects that have been used as money. It then focuses on the development of the Collection from its origins in the late 19th century to the present day. The mandate of the Currency Museum and its operations are also outlined. The next chapter presents important and unusual examples of coins and notes from classical to contemporary times. This is followed by a chapter devoted to money in society, with particular emphasis on inflation and monetary shortages. The impact of war on money is then explored, and this is followed by an examination of the recent introduction of new forms of monetary instruments that challenge the traditional concept of money. The concluding chapter explores numismatics and how a new collector can take part in this hobby of kings.

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