Collections (USA & Canada)

There are some excellent East Asian numismatic collections in the USA and Canada. Previous surveys include:

  • Robert Hoge, “Chinese Numismatics in American Museums” (1998) Proceedings of the ICOMON meetings, held in conjunction with the ICOM Conference, Melbourne (Australia, 10-16 October, 1998), ed. by Peter Lane and John Sharples. Melbourne, Numismatic Association of Australia, Inc, 2000. 117 p. (NAA Special publication, 2). (English). pp. 53-61. Downloaded from:


Boston, MA > Museum of Fine Arts

Cambridge, MA > Harvard University > Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Chicago, IL > Field Museum of Natural History

  • Hoge (1998): “Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois (5,000 pieces.) The Field Museum in Chicago holds a major collection of extensive scope, roughly 5,000 pieces, but it consists largely of Manchu issues. Included are several hundred spade, knife and early round coins, and several dozen iron pieces. About 500 items are
    from the former collection of Frank H. Chalfant (1862-1914), who served as a Presbyterian missionary in western Shantung Province. Chalfant gained renown as the first Western authority on the Shang Dynasty oracle bone inscriptions. His numismatic collection covered all periods and included some interesting rarities as well as numerous counterfeits.”

Colorado Springs, CO > American Numismatic Association

  • Hoge (1998): “The Museum of the American Numismatic Association,
    Colorado Springs, Colorado (6,000+ pieces). The ANA Museum, with well over
    6,000 items, holds perhaps the second largest collection in the United States, with series encompassing the entire range of Chinese numismatic material. The
    Arthur Braddan Coole Oriental Library at the ANA is possibly the foremost such reference collection. It served as the basis for Coole’s 1967 Bibliography, the most
    comprehensive such work attempted to date. The library includes about 120 shelf feet of books, in Chinese, Japanese and western languages. Fuller details on the collection and its development follow in the case study provided below [in Hoge’s report].”

Middletown, CT > Wesleyan University

  • Hoge (1998): “Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut (1,000+ pieces). Wesleyan University formerly operated a natural history museum, featuring many collections of materials obtained by alumni, in
    eluding Methodist missionaries to China. The numismatic holdings include over 1,000 items, mostly unattributed cash coins, but with some spades and knives, funerary money and counterfeits.”

New Haven, CT > Yale University Art Gallery > Numismatic Dept

New York, NY > American Numismatic Society > East Asian Money

  • Hoge (1998): “The American Numismatic Society, New York (45,000+ pieces). The ANS with more than 45,000 pieces, clearly holds the pre-eminent collection in the United States, and possibly the foremost in the world. As of February 1998, some 29,619 Chinese numismatic objects of all kinds were listed on the ANS’ computer database. The bulk of the collection was formed by John Reilly, Jr. (d. 1931) who had acquired the entire collection (15,000 pieces) from the scholarly English collector Henry A. Ramsden (1872-1915). Reilly’s daughter, Mrs. Eric N. Baynes, donated his collection in 1937, although it had been at the Society since 1917. On the basis of these holdings, Early Chinese Coinage by Wang Yu-ch’uan was published in 1951, marking a notable advance in studies of the ancient, spade and knife money and the earliest round coins. The ANS also possesses an outstanding library of oriental reference works and unpublished manuscripts. In February 1998, the ANS hosted a “Chinese Cast Coin Workshop”, at which ANA museum volunteer George Fisher and I presented papers.”
    • “Ramsdeniana”, The Coin Collectors Journal, Vol. VIII. (1941), p.76.
    • Bates, Michael L, Resources for Chinese Numismatics in the American
      Numismatic Society (New York: American Numismatic Society, 1998)
    • Smith, Bruce W., “50 Famous Collections”, in East Asia Journal, Vol. 1,
      No.1, nd. (1974), p.44-5
    • Wang Yu-Ch’uan, Early Chinese Coinage, Numismatic Notes and Monographs, No. 122, (New York: American Numismatic Society, 1951)
    • See also more recent work on the ANS collection by Lyce Jankowski (2010s)

New York, NY > Metropolitan Museum of Art > Search the Collection

Newark, NJ > Newark Museum

  • Hoge (1998): “Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey (3,000 pieces). The principal Chinese collection at the Newark Museum was part of the 57 original numismatic accession (1921) donated by Frank I. Liveright, a serious and enthusiastic collector
    of many kinds of numismatic materials. Hundreds of Chinese pieces were included, among them examples of the early knives and spades, sycees, coin “trees’ and casting molds.”

Philadelphia, PA > University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

  • Hoge (1998): “University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology,
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4,000 pieces). The major holding of Chinese coins in the University Museum was formed by Edward Waite Thwing, who went to South China as a missionary in 1892, and subsequently formed an outstanding collection with a special focus on the early spade coins. Thwing sold his collection in 1905 for
    the then substantial sum of $2000, and the purchaser, Robert C.H. Brock, donated the collection to the Museum’s cabinet. Researcher Howard Bowker studied the
    collection in 1946, and reported that it included hundreds of spade coins (30 of the early hollow-handled issues), many pieces of knife money and early round coins, but not a single example of the interesting issues of the mid-Han dynasty period usurper Wang Mang, whose archaizing coins are routinely found in most cabinets. The Thwing collection numbered altogether about 4,000 Chinese coins.”

Pittsburgh, PA > Carnegie Museum of Natural History,

  • Hoge (1998): “Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1,135
    pieces). The Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s major collection of 600 pieces was formed before 1895 by missionary Stephen A. Hunter, whose daughter Anna Hunter donated it to the Museum in 1954. It is a general collection perhaps typical of those formed by the missionaries. The other collections at the Carnegie, numbering over 500 pieces, are without provenances.”

Princeton, NJ > Princeton University Library > Numismatic collection

  • A gift of more than 2,000 coins to the Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections will make relics from ancient and medieval China available to researchers on campus and around the world. Lawren Wu, a 1992 alumnus, arranged for the donation from his mother, Tung Ching Wu, in memory of his father, the late collector and DuPont chemist Souheng Wu. [Source]
  • A considerable collection of Chinese coins, gifts of O. A. Holzer and of F.J. Tooker, Class of 1894 [Source]
  • “A large number of early Chinese coins has been added to the general numismatic collection in the Princeton University Library by the gift of Frederick J. Tooker, ’94, a missionary in China who has presented them in the name of the Princeton Alumni Association of China…”,  “Chinese coins and oracle bones”, Biblia, 6/1 (Jan 1935)

Stanford, CA > Stanford University > Hoover Institution Archives

  • Harry A. Mohler medal collection, 1881-1972: Chinese and Thai military and civil medals. Includes medals issued by various Chinese warlords, 1911-1928, consisting of 13 card file boxes, 7 oversize boxes. (9 linear feet) . Box 1-3: Thailand. Box 4-6: Chinese Imperial. Box 7-11: Republic of China orders. Box 12-15: Warlord issues. Box 16: Awards of Chiang Kai-shek. Box 17-19: Taiwan. Box 20: Scrolls.

Washington, DC > Smithsonian Museum > National Numismatic Collection

  • Hoge (1998): “The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (3,000± pieces.) The most important part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian consists of the cabinet formed by George B. Glover, an American who served as a
    commissioner of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs at Canton beginning in the 1860s. This collection, which featured some signal rarities, was published by the well-known British collector S.H.S. Lockhart (3 vols., 1895, 1907) and was donated to the Smithsonian by Glover’s widow in 1897. At the time, this was considered “probably the most complete collection in existence, surpassing those of
    London and Paris.” The Glover collection includes 1,237 Chinese coins as well as a large number of “charms.” Through other donations the National collection has obtained significantly more specimens over the years.”
  • The East Asian collections are now online – see blog post for banknotes and coins in the Howard F. Bowker Collection

Worcester, MA > Worcester Art Museum


Toronto > Royal Ontario Museum website