Last July, a Canadian priest sold the coin collection be had built-up over 40 years for a staggering $550,000 - and then gave all of the proceeds to numismatics research.

Now, for the first time, Reverend Dr. Bernard O'Connor, from Nova Scotia, Canada, has spoken to the Cape Breton Post about why he started collecting and why he chose to sell his coins.

"I started collecting when I was about 12 years old, growing up in Sydney Mines, and over the years my collection evolved from one cent to its present status."

Over four decades, Rev O'Connor has collected, studied and shared information on rare coins and currency.

"My collection was never an investment. You never see a Brinks truck pulling up to a funeral parlour, we can't take it with us," O'Connor said.

However Rev O'Connor had expected the coins to increase in value: "I planned for years that proceeds from the auction of the collection would go to an educational foundation to assist students who are studying the history of currency or for people doing research."

The entire proceeds went to the JD Ferguson Historical Research Foundation which finances research, publishing and related activities in the numismatic field.

Rev O'Connor has no heirs, and looks at the auction of his beloved collection as a way of giving back, and leaving a legacy, to the hobby he and his family have enjoyed.

"I had a great hobby that did me well for over 45 years. I belonged to organizations and clubs and attended conferences all over the world, but it's job is done and it is time to move on," he said.

"I've had the joy of working with it, owning it and mentoring people on how to develop collections and do documentable research.

"There is no sadness about this at all, it was a great blessing," he said.

'The recession helped with the sale...'

According to Rev O'Connor, people's reactions to the economic downturn helped, rather than hindered the sale - there were over 1,000 mailed in bids and another 1,000 bids on Ebay.

A highlight of the sale was a 1921 half dollar, the most valuable coin in Canada, which sold for $36,000.

The collection was auctioned off in units, including Canadian four and 25-dollar bills and a 1935 bilingual issue.

Other sales included a framed 10-shilling banknote dating back to the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1742, a French banknote dated 1720 and rare currency called "card money".

Rev O'Connor was a regular attendee of coin shows, and has regularly lectured on his collection to students and community groups.

"Coins and currency have political, social and religious implications, all aspects of life are reflected in currency.

"As a university professor, I used my collection in my political science courses. You can follow the development of nations and continents by its coins and banknotes," he said.



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