Scottish Coins from the Collection of The Late Dr. James Davidson

Scottish Coins from the Collection of The Late Dr. James Davidson

Dr James Davidson

The late Dr James Davidson, M.B., Ch.B., F.R.C.P. (Edin.), F.S.A. Scot., of Linton Muir, West Linton, Peebles-shire, was a very well known collector of Scottish and ancient Greek coins for some 60 years. He inherited his interest from his father, also James, who was actively collecting both series in the early years of the 20th century. Father was a customer of the principal dealers of the day, including Albert Baldwin senior, Samuel Spink, Edgar Lincoln, James Daniels of Brighton and James Verity of Dewsbury; he also contributed on numismatic matters to the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History & Antiquarian Society published between 1909 and 1921, including a note on a James III Black Money farthing acquired at an Edinburgh auction in late 1919 (Part I of the collection, Dix Noonan Webb, 7 October 2003, lot 871).

Born in Dumfries on 3 February 1896, Dr Davidson studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. A forensic scientist and pathologist, he was the director of the Metropolitan Police forensic laboratory at Hendon during World War II, subsequently returning to Scotland and becoming senior pathologist at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh and then consultant pathologist at Edinburgh Southern Hospitals.

It would seem that Dr Davidson, who, as Lord Stewartby reminds us, had been collecting since the 1920s (BN] 1996, pp.111-12), had taken over the family collection by the early 1930s, if not a little before; his father, a founding member of the Association of Public Analysts of Scotland in 1902, retired in 1926. He joined the British Numismatic Society in 1937 and served continuously on the Society's Council from 1939 to 1947. In 1970 he became a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society, retaining membership of both societies until his death on 17 May 1985 at the age of 89.

Dr Davidson maintained contact with the principal dealers and collectors of Scottish coins throughout his collecting life, in particular working closely in the late 1930s with Hugh and Colin Dakers, the father and son collecting team whose coins were dispersed post mortem in 1946. Some of the 'senior school' of today's numismatists vividly remember visiting Dr Davidson at West Linton where, as Hugh Pagan recalled in his presidential address to the BNS in 1985, "he was glad to show his collection of alpine plants and his coins, in that order." The late Patrick Finn negotiated the sale of a certain element of the collection to Spink in 1980, mostly groats; this auction and a smaller offering next March will thus complete the dispersal of the Davidson holdings.