Auction recap: 118-year-old banknote soars past pre-sale estimates

An 1898 Dominion of Canada DC-13c Series Q “Horseblanket” banknote realized nearly six times its pre-sale estimate when it crossed the auction block this past weekend.

The $1 Horseblanket note, which owes its name to its large size (see sidebar below), was offered on July 16, during the weekly auction hosted by Vancouver’s All Nations Stamp and Coin. With a pre-sale estimate of $150 and a Charlton catalogue value of $165, Lot 193 eventually crossed the block for a hammer price of $605 after feverish bidding from a dozen bidders nationwide.

All Nations owner and auctioneer Brian Grant Duff said the piece was a “pretty note from a new find.”


The $1 Horseblanket note owes its name to its large size—’large enough to look like you could throw it over a horse’ according to auctioneer Brian Grant Duff.

“Appealing original early notes always seem to attract lots of interest,” he said. “Fresh material always brings lots of interest, and eye-appeal also attracts extra interest. It brought a Very Fine price because it was such a nice-looking note. They’re tough to find in an affordable grade.”


The following lot of All Nations Stamp & Coin Auction No. 1067 also topped its catalogue value. Lot 194, a 1900 Dominion of Canada DC-15b 25-cent “Shinplaster” note, sold for $60 after a pre-sale estimate of only $25.

“It was another nice-looking example,” said Duff. “They tend to be tough to find in higher grades.”


According to Duff, both the Horseblanket and the Shinplaster earned their nicknames shortly after being issued. “The Horseblanket is an oversized banknote—large enough to look like you could throw it over a horse,” he said. “The Shinplaster is a bit more interesting. The Americans popularized notes like that first; in the U.S. Civil War, soldiers had bandages on their shins that happened to be the same size as the smaller notes that were issued during that time. They were named after those bandages—the Shinplaster.” The long-time auctioneer said Canada printed 25-cent paper currency (like the Shinplaster) four times between 1870 and 1923, each time trying to “stave off too many U.S. silver quarters making the rounds in our change. There were so many in circulation in Canada that the government considered it bad for the economy, so they tried to print paper notes to obviate that. This was not a success as they [the 25-cent notes] were widely saved in the same way people would collect an interesting-looking coin now.”

Each of Auction No. 1067’s 200 lots crossed the auction block.

For more information about the recent sale, click here.

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