Leeds University Library

University of Leeds Coin Collection

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The University of Leeds coin collection consists of around 15,000 coins and medals. The collection began in 1918 as a teaching collection of Roman coins used by the Department of Latin. In 1948 additional Roman coins were donated by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.

The collection continued to expand during the 1950s. The ‘Poros’ hoard of over 250 Roman coins was acquired in the early 1950s, the ‘Winchester Cabinet’ was purchased from the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral in 1954 and in 1957 the ‘anonymous gift’ was presented to the University by Alderman Horace Hird. It included Iron Age, pre-Roman and Anglo-Saxon coins along with a cabinet of 17th century tradesman tokens from Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

The collection grew significantly between 1989 and 1994 with the generous donation of around 11,000 coins by Paul Thackray. His donation included Roman, Chinese, Sassanian, Byzantine, British, European and modern world coins.

University Coin Committee

The first committee of the University Coin Collection was held on the 5th July 1955. The committee was set up to administer the collection, make recommendations on its safe keeping and manage its use in teaching and research. Christopher Edgar Challis and Elizabeth Pirie, Curator of Leeds City Council’s coin collection, were Chairman and Honorary Curator for many years. The committee was discharged in February 1994 and superseded by the Committee on University Collections.

The coin committee records are held in the University Archive.


The coins are held in cabinets according to how they were donated. Within donation groupings they are usually sub-divided by type, often reflecting the arrangement chosen by the original owner of the coins.


Only limited catalogue descriptions are currently available online, these can be searched using the search box at the top of page. The following handwritten and printed catalogues are available to view on request in the Reading Room:

  • 'A catalogue of the seventeenth century Derbyshire tradesmen' tokens in the coin and medal collection at the University of Leeds’ by Denise Hirschmann
  • 'A catalogue of the collection of coins and medals purchased in October 1954 from the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral'
  • 'Coins in the kingdom of Northumbria c. 700-867 in Yorkshire collections', register of negatives, by E J E Pirie, 1991

Digital Content

Photographs of the Thackray donation were taken in the early 1990s. These have been digitised and are available to view online.

Viewing the Collection

Requests to view the collection must be made in writing to the Head of Special Collections and Galleries. Researchers will be limited to looking at one tray of coins at a time.

Research and Cataloguing

We would welcome the expertise and assistance of numismatics researchers to help enhance the catalogue and broaden and develop our understanding of the collection.