Tag: Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal

Stanley Clark Bagg’s Coin Collection

When Stanley Clark Bagg’s name appeared in a Montreal city directory in 1866, he was not listed as a “gentleman,” as one might expect. Instead, he gave his occupation as President of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal, a voluntary position related to his hobby.1

Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873), or SCB, made his living renting or selling the real estate properties he had inherited from his grandfather, but what he really enjoyed doing was collecting and studying old coins.  

He explained his interest in numismatics (the study of coins) in an article he wrote for the Society: “In coins and medals, more than in any other monuments, the past is preserved and its heroes and great events are kept memorable, forms of worship, manners and customs of nations; titles of kings and emperors may thus be determined; — in fact, coins have been frequently of the greatest service, by illustrating doubtful points of history, and even by bringing to light circumstances and events unknown to us before.”2

He gave the example of the Roman Empire: while most of the statues, arches and palaces the Romans built have crumbled to dust, “paltry coins remain monuments of the might of the age; they represent, and record, fresh as the day they were coined, such great historical facts in their inscriptions as Victoriae Brittanicae and Judea Captae.”3

There was a memorial article about Stanley Clark Bagg, one of the founders of this society, in the October, 1873 issue.

A small group of English-speaking and French-speaking numismatic enthusiasts, including SCB, started getting together around 1860. When they founded the 20-member Numismatic Society of Montreal on Dec. 8 1862, it became the first numismatic society in Canada and the fifth in North America. Adelard J. Boucher was the society’s first president and SCB was founding vice-president.

The society’s name changed in 1866 to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal. At that time, SCB was the organization’s president.4 He also served as an editor of the society’s quarterly journal.   In 1863, SCB read the first paper before the Montreal society, the article entitled “Notes on Coins.” His second presentation, given later that year, was “Coins & medals as aids to the study and verification of holy writ.” His presentations were published in the society’s journal.   In order to keep up with the latest discoveries about coins, archaeology and science, SCB was a member of several organizations, including numismatic societies in London and in Philadelphia. He was also a corresponding member of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and a life member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Natural History Society of Montreal.5

Inside SCB’s coin case (photo courtesy Victor Isganaitis)

No one knows what coins he had in his own collection, but he probably had some special ones. In his will, he left his collection to daughter Mary Heloise Bagg, who later married Robert Lindsay, but I have been unable to find out what happened to it. Some individual coins may still be in the family, or perhaps everything was sold. In 2016, a coin-carrying case that SCB had owned, as well as an inventory and about 40 coins and medals, came on the market and at that time I corresponded with the dealer, who sent me some photos.   Coin expert Ted Banning suggests that SCB’s most important contribution to the field was not as a collector, nor even as a writer, but as one of the founders of the Numismatic Society.6 Twenty years after SCB’s death, the society played an important role in saving one of Montreal’s most important heritage buildings, the Chateau Ramezay.   The Chateau Ramezay was built in 1705 by Claude de Ramezay, a Governor of Montreal in colonial New France. Over the years the building had various owners and uses, including the offices of a fur trading company and the headquarters of invading American forces in 1775-1776.   When the government decided to sell the building in 1893, the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal rallied public opinion to save it from demolition. The City of Montreal acquired the building and rented it to the society, which converted it into a museum, open to the public. In 1929, the city ceded the building to the society. Today it remains a museum and a UNESCO-recognized historic site.7

Notes and Sources:  

  1. The listing reads, “Stanley Clark Bagg, JP, President of Numismatic and Antiquarian Society, Fairmount Villa, 583 Sherbrooke Street.” Mackay’s Montreal Directory, 1866; p. 76, entry for Stanley Clark Bagg; digital image, Ancestry.ca, Canada, City and Area Directories, 1819-1906, (database on-line, accessed March 17, 2020.)  
  2. Stanley C. Bagg, “Notes on Coins,” The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, p 4, Montreal: The Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal, October, 1873. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=aeu.ark:/13960/t77s8v32h&view=1up&seq=10(accessed March 19, 2020)  
  3. Ibid p. 8., https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=aeu.ark:/13960/t77s8v32h&view=1up&seq=15(accessed March 19, 2020)  
  4. Warren Baker, “The First Twelve Years: Canadian Numismatic Publishing 1863-1875, an Annotated Bibliography,” Montreal, 1989.  
  5. “In Memoriam Stanley Clark Bagg, Esq., J.P. F.N.S.” The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, p 73, Montreal: The Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal, October, 1873. https://books.google.ca/books?id=aX83AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73&dq=In+Memoriam+Stanley+Clark+Bagg&source=bl&ots=GIMssMetqS&sig=ACfU3U2ygp033V5ub7hQjtxWrbnz0HcumQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjZ2JaC7aboAhUNbs0KHTwYDo4Q6AEwEXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=In%20Memoriam%20Stanley%20Clark%20Bagg&f=false (accessed March 19, 2020)  
  6. Ted Banning, “Bagg helped bring social numismatics to Montreal,” Canadian Coin News, March 19, 2012.  
  7. See https://www.chateauramezay.qc.ca/en/

A Trip to England in 1842

Durham Cathedral (jh photo)

When Stanley Clark Bagg (SCB) and his father, Stanley Bagg, of Montreal, visited England in 1842, they were combining business and pleasure. The business involved selling property that SCB’s maternal grandfather had owned in Durham, England, and the pleasure involved a whirlwind tour of London, Scotland, Ireland and France, as well as visits with various great-aunts and great-uncles who still lived in England.

It was a good time for a trip: SCB had just finished a four-year apprenticeship with a notary and could now practice as a notary himself. It made sense to travel before he opened his own office.

A few months after his return to Montreal, SCB wrote to his cousin in Philadelphia, outlining the trip. Unfortunately, he did not include any details or impressions of their adventures, but the list of places they visited sounds exhausting. Passenger rail services were expanding in England at the time, but much of their travel would have been done by horse-drawn coach.

Crossing the Atlantic, however, was fast. The age of the trans-Atlantic steamship had arrived in the 1830s, and SCB wrote, “We made the passage to Liverpool from Halifax in the incredible short space of nine days and six hours, which was I believe the shortest passage ever made across the Atlantic. From Liverpool we went to London, thence to Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, York Darlington, Durham, Stockton, Sunderland, Newcastle, Shields, Tynemouth, Otterburn …. ” 1

As they moved north to Scotland, they passed though many small towns, including Lesmahagow, and they explored both Glasgow and Edinburgh. On the way back to London, they stopped in Carlisle, in the north of England.

After a few days in London, they crossed the Channel to France, where they visited Boulogne, Paris, Versailles, Le Havre and several other spots before returning to London. SCB wrote, “We left London shortly afterwards for Ireland, and having visited Kingstown, Dublin and Kilmainham, returned to Liverpool, where … we embarked on board a steamship and after a boisterous passage of 14 days arrived at Boston exceedingly gratified with our tour.” 2

Anchor-maker William Mitcheson, brother of SCB’s grandmother Mary Mitcheson Clark, lived in London, and the Baggs visited him there. While in County Durham, they visited more Mitcheson relations, including Mrs. Dodd (Mary Mitcheson’s sister Margaret) near Ryton, and Mrs. Maugham (Mary’s sister Elizabeth) at Sunderland.

It is clear that the visit to Durham was the highlight of the trip, but not because of the business they finalized there. In fact, SCB did not mention the land sales at all in his letter. When SCB turned 21 in December, 1841, he gained control over the property he had inherited from his grandfather John Clark (1767-1827). This property was generating rental income, but SCB wanted to sell it. Proof that the sale took place can be found in a notarized document, dated after their return to Montreal, in which Stanley Bagg listed the sales of three properties in Durham. 3

Modern sculpture of the monks carrying St. Cuthbert’s body. (jh photo)

Meanwhile, SCB was interested in ancient legends, old coins, Norman castles and the like, and was enthralled with Durham. More than 20 years later, he presented a lecture to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal on “The Antiquities and Legends of Durham.” 4

He described the legend surrounding the founding of Durham city by 9th century monks. When Danes attacked England’s northeast coast, the monks fled their monastery on the Island of Lindisfarne with the miraculously well-preserved body of their former bishop. Eventually they built an abbey at the future site of Durham city and buried him there. Today, that bishop is remembered as Saint Cuthbert and pilgrims still visit the abbey church, Durham Cathedral.

In his 1866 lecture to the Numismatic Society, SCB opened up about his feelings on the trip. He recalled, “The first time I had the privilege of attending a divine service in Durham Abbey, I was enraptured with the sweet and masterly chanting, unsurpassed in the empire. My father and I obtained seats in the choir. The service was exceedingly impressive, so much so, that …. whenever the portion of the Psalter chanted upon that occasion recurs in the services of the church, it carries me back in imagination to the first service I attended in the venerable abbey of my mother’s native city.” 4

This story is also posted on https://.genealogyensemble.com

See also:

 Janice Hamilton, “A Freehold Estate in Durham,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 3, 2019 https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2019/05/a-freehold-estate-in-durham_92.html

Janice Hamilton,“Mary Mitcheson Clark,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2014, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=164

Janice Hamilton,“Mary Ann (Clark) Bagg,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Nov. 29, 2013,   https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=187

Janice Hamilton,“The Mitcheson Family of Limehouse,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 21, 2015, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/?p=147

Janice Hamilton, “Stanley Bagg’s Difficulties,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 10, 2014, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2014/01/stanley-baggs-difficulties.html


  1. Letter from Stanley Clark Bagg to Rev. R. M. Mitcheson, Dec. 6, 1842, probably transcribed by Stanley Bagg Lindsay; Lindsay family collection.
  2. Record in a passenger list of Stanley Bagg and S.C. Bagg travelling from Liverpool to Boston aboard the Acadia. Boston Courier (Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, Sept. 19, 1842, issue 1921;) 19th Century Newspapers Collection, special interest databases, www.americanancestors.org (accessed April 18, 2019.)
  3. Joseph-Hilarion Jobin, “Account and mortgages from Stanley Bagg Esq to Stanley Clark Bagg,” 8 October 1842, notarial act #3537, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
  4. Stanley Clark Bagg, “The Antiquities and Legends of Durham: a Lecture before the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal,” p. 21, Montreal, 1866. https://archive.org/details/cihm_48731/page/n4 (accessed Dec. 27, 2019) SCB’s article can also be found here: http://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.48731/1?r=0&s=1