Alwin C. Carus was born November 20, 1901 in La Salle, Illinois. His father, Paul Carus was a philosopher and wrote the book The Gospel of Buddha, and his mother, Mary Hegeler Carus, was the first woman to graduate with a degree in engineering from the University of Michigan (1882).
Mr. Carus majored in chemistry and physics at the University of Chicago in the early 1920s and later worked as a researcher in his brother Edward’s company, Carus Chemical Company, which is one of the largest manufacturers of potassium permanganate in the world. In 1930, he traveled to Germany and became interested in coins and currency after learning about the hyperinflation and economic crisis in Germany in the 1920s. This was the start of his lifelong interest in collecting coins, and he also became interested in the history of coinage as it relates to the social and political history of nations and how governments inevitably devalue their currencies in order to meet financial obligations.
Mr. Carus also enjoyed archeology, astronomy, photography, visiting relatives, and traveling around the world. He had a photographic memory as well and could accurately recall facts and details up to and including the day that he died. He lived in the same house in La Salle, Illinois his entire life and passed away there on November 8, 2004.
About the Collection
The collection of coin and currency was donated to Hillsdale College by Mr. Alwin C. Carus of La Salle, Illinois. Mr. Carus collected coins and currency throughout his lifetime and was interested in the historical, economical, and educational importance of money. Thus, he wanted his collection to be used for educational purposes in the classroom as well as in other venues. The Carus Coin Collection is a large collection that contains a broad range of coins and currency, including coins from ancient Greece, Macedon, and Rome, Medieval English coins, Byzantine coins, Islamic coins, Chinese coins and currency, United States coins, and coins from all over the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Mexico, Russia, and many others. The collection also contains a selection of bank notes including gold and silver certificates of the United States and notes from Germany, Canada, and other countries. The collection is a work in progress and coins are added into the database daily.
Any questions or comments can be directed to:
Carus Coin Collection Student Coordinator