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University of Aberdeen Museums

Marischal College

Broad Street


AB10 1YS


tel: +44 (0)1224  274330




email: [email protected]



Contact details: Shona Elliott


Date of visit: 9 April 2013


Nature and extent of collection


40,000 pieces. The University of Aberdeen’s museum collections are internationally renowned and the entire collection has been recognised to be of National Significance to the Scottish Nation since 2007. The collections are the product of hundreds of years of collecting, driven by the research and teaching activities of staff and the exploits and generosity of graduates and friends. Holding items acquired by the University and its constituent institutions from their foundation in 1495, museums were established in the later 18th century in King’s College and Marischal College. These two colleges were fused in 1860 to form the University of Aberdeen. The collections cover a wide range of Human Culture, Medicine and Health, and Natural History, with an unusually deep cohesion stemming from the intellectual interests of the University. There is a relatedness within the collections that runs across the currently-defined disciplines and the original media, with complex threads rising through the centuries, expressed as materials with a genealogical affinity based on connected donors, or on evolving thoughts, practices and concepts.


Mission statement:

The University’s museums aim for excellence in teaching, research and community engagement. They bring collaboration and creativity to the management of the University’s collections for the benefit of all users.



All numbers below are estimated


Greek coins: 7,273

Roman coins: Roman Republican: 1,320 coins; Roman Imperial: 8,000 coins

British coins: 600 Scottish coins

British tokens: 10,000 communion tokens + a small number of Scottish trade, tokens

European coins: 1,000 hammered coins from Europe.  Also, many coins from the The Aberdeen Upperkirkgate Hoard of 1886

Asian coins: 8,000

Middle Eastern coins: Byzantine Empire: 596

African coins: 9,000 colonial coins and post-colonial coins covering India and Africa and a small amount from Canada

Modern and Paper Money: 20 bank notes plus other forms of money e.g. bracelet money and axe money

Medals: 140 commemorative medals and very approximately 400 military medals

Specific strengths: Ancient coinage of Greece and Rome; Scottish coins and communion tokens plus an excellent collection of commemorative and prize medals, particularly representing the University of Aberdeen, and trade tokens, jetons and beggars’ badges. The comprehensive collection of military medals is considered as part of the Scottish history and archaeology collection.


Library: around 60 volumes covering the history of world currency.





Database used: CALM


Proportion of collection on database: 100%


How much detail in database entries? Basic detail.


Are images incorporated? Yes, around 200 images for about 100 coins will soon be added to an image database called Digitool. Each Digitool image record will have a hyper-link to the relevant CALM record.


Is the database accessible to the public? Yes.


Is the database publicly accessible online? What is the URL if so? Yes:





Are there permanent numismatic displays? Yes.


Is numismatic material incorporated into more general displays? Yes.


Is there a facility for temporary exhibitions? Yes.


Have there been numismatic exhibitions in the past? If so, what? No.



Access to the collection


Is there a study facility? Yes.


Is equipment (balances, magnifying glasses, etc.) provided? Yes.



Public engagement with numismatic collection


Is there a handling collection? No.


Are numismatic collections used in Education sessions? Yes: Roman coins are used in Roman-themed workshops.


Do numismatic collections feature in gallery talks, lectures? Sometimes, yes.


Are there other engagement activities based around numismatic collections? No.



ID and public enquiries


Does the museum offer a service for identifying objects and other public enquiries? Yes.



Curatorial knowledge


Is there any numismatic expertise in-house? If so, who, and in what areas? No.


Is there access to external expertise? If so, who and in what areas? Yes, we are in contact with someone who is extremely knowledgeable about Roman Republican coins.


If there is expertise in-house, is there a willingness/capacity to share that with other museums? N/A

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