Gale and ACANS collection

Gale and ACANS collection

Dr W.L. Gale (1934-2007) and the Gale Collection

Dr Bill Gale, founder of ACANS, died in February 2007. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, after losing his battle with cancer.

Bill was a student of ancient history and an avid collector of ancient coins; he was so passionate about his interests that in 1999 he endowed a research centre for ancient numismatics at Macquarie University - the Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies (ACANS) - the first centre for the study of ancient coins to be established in Australia. 

Bill began his working life as a lawyer and property developer in Sydney.  After an extremely successful career he decided to retire and begin a degree in ancient history at Macquarie University.  Bill and his wife Janet both had a great love for the ancient world, and they were irrepressible travellers.  One of their favourite destinations was Italy.  Bill developed a special interest in three fields of Italian history: the Greek cities in South Italy, Republican Rome, and the Roman emperor Hadrian.  As a result he began collecting coins that would illuminate his studies on these three topics.  Once he had obtained his BA (Hons), Bill decided to undertake a doctorate on the topic of the Roman Senate.  Through sheer hard work and persistence he was able to successfully present his thesis in 2005.

Bill's commitment to the study of ancient coins in Australia was also remarkable.  He was a founding member of the Australian Society for Ancient Numismatics, which has helped foster the interests of collectors in Sydney.  His desire to see a revived interest in the study of numismatics in academic circles was a result of his decision to undertake university studies.  Coin studies have been neglected by historians for some time, and Bill was very aware that many academics were no longer in touch with this vast amount of evidence for the financial affairs of ancient societies.  His response was to endow ACANS. 

Bill Gale was an extremely modest man.  He loved attending Macquarie University's 'Gale lectures in Numismatics' to hear all about new research.  These lectures were established by ACANS to honour his contributions to the subject.  But he dreaded the moment when he would be publicly thanked (and usually tried to 'keep his head down').  He was modest about this generosity, and about his impact on the study of ancient history at Macquarie.  But even putting the creation of ACANS to one side, this impact has been significant.  Both he and Janet were important donors to the collection of the Museum of Ancient Cultures and have significantly enriched the experience of visitors to the museum.  Together they have also donated funds to strengthen the crucial library holdings.  In addition, they have give funds to allow students and scholars at Macquarie University to travel to Italy in order to complete and publish their research. 

The coin collection of Dr and Mrs W. L. Gale was donated to Macquarie University in 2007. It consists of over two and half thousand coins, and is the most important ancient coin collection in Australia. There are three main groups: coins from the Greek cities of South Italy, Roman Republic coinage, and Roman Imperial coinage from the time of Hadrian. There are also important holdings dealing with Corinth and with the portaiture of Roman emperors.

The Gale Collection of South Italian coins was published in 2008 as the first volume in the Australian Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum series.

Back to the top of this page