Bell auction kicks off Thursday despite Coin Expo’s coronavirus-related cancellation

By Jesse Robitaille

A three-session sale highlighted by one of three finest-known 1948 silver dollars is set to cross the auction block beginning this Thursday.

The sale, which will be hosted by New Brunswick’s Geoffrey Bell Auctions (GBA) on April 30-May 2, is also highlighted by high-grade Victorian cents; scarce Indian Chief Medals; a “very rare” Imperial Bank of Canada specimen note; and “the rarest of Canada’s still banks.” It was originally planned to take place at this weekend’s Toronto Coin Expo, which was cancelled on March 23 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Collectors are the backbone of our numismatic communities and their health and well-being is the priority,” reads a joint statement issued by show organizer Jared Stapleton and GBA auctioneer Brian Bell, who hosts a sale in conjunction with each of the biannual Coin Expo shows.

But the lot with the highest expectations is the above-mentioned 1948 silver dollar, which is offered as Lot 255 and certified as Mint State-66 by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

“We do not hesitate to say that this coin is the best 1948 silver dollar you will ever see and ranks #1 with the PCGS rankings tied with two others,” reads the auction catalogue, which adds a pre-sale estimate of $70,000-$75,000.

The following lot will offer another 1948 silver dollar, this graded Mint State-65 by International Coin Certification Service (ICCS). Described by auctioneers as having “superb russet and gold patina over full mint brilliance” and a “choice example of this key date,” it’s expected to bring $17,000-$17,500.

Moving back to the Victorian era, an 1888 half-dollar in ICCS Mint State-64 will cross the block as Lot 208.

“This piece is clearly a solid Choice Mint State example with a hint of toning,” reads the auction catalogue.

It has a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-$60,000.

Lot 992 offers a $50 specimen note printed by the U.K.’s Waterlow & Sons for the Imperial Bank of Canada in 1907 has a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$50,000.


A 1907 $50 specimen note printed by the U.K.’s Waterlow & Sons for the Imperial Bank of Canada will be offered as Lot 992.

“The extra-large high-denomination notes were circulated, but no issued example is known is private collections,” according to auctioneers. “Collectors will therefore have to be content with Waterlow specimens or proofs, which are printed in colours differing from those of the issued notes but are very, very rare in their own right.”

With an estimate of $40,000-$50,000, the example, whose face features a large portrait of Queen Alexandra, “will be a highlight of the auction and of any collection,” adds the catalogue.

An Indian Chief Medal presented by the Prince of Wales on his visit to Canada in 1860 is expected to bring $23,000-$25,000 as Lot 542.

“It could be a very long time before this opportunity presents again.”


A “very sought after and scarce” Indian Chief Medal is also among the sale’s top highlights.

Offered as Lot 542, it was presented by the Prince of Wales on his visit to Canada in 1860 and is one of three sizes, the largest of which were given to Indigenous chiefs. One of those large examples, this piece measures 75 millimetres in diameter and includes a hanger at the top. It’s expected to bring $23,000-$25,000.

Among the sale’s token highlights is an 1838 Bank of Montréal “side view” half-penny (Breton 524).

From the Doug Robins Collection, which was sold – minus this example – in April 2018 by Heritage Auctions, this token is certified as Mint State-62 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

According to auctioneers, this piece “surfaced last fall,” after the latest Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Colonial Tokens was published, “and could represent the only available example of this variety.” Offered as Lot 412, it has a pre-sale estimate of $13,000-$15,000.

An 1838 Bank of Montréal ‘side view’ half-penny is expected to bring $13,000-$15,000 as Lot 412.

For memorabilia collectors, Lot 500 will offer “the rarest of Canada’s still banks,” a 24-centimetre-by-12.5-centimetre-by-20.5-centimetre recreation of the Traders Bank of Canada. The  still bank recreates the early skyscraper – the first erected in Toronto – at 67 Yonge St. With a pre-sale estimate of $1,000-$1,500, the lot is described by auctioneers as a “once-of-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a banking icon.”

Other highlights include the final offering of the Walter Allen Collection (Lot 696-808), which is “full of beautiful vignettes,” and the personal engraved medals of late collector Harry Eisenhauer (Lot 518).

Described by auctioneers as ‘the rarest of Canada’s still banks,’ a Traders Bank of Canada still bank is expected to bring upwards of $1,500 as Lot 500.

A third online-only session will also be held on May 2.

Bidding for each session begins at 6 p.m. Interested bidders can place an online bid through iCollector and call (1-506-333-7778) or email ( for lot descriptions, to place absentee bids or to arrange bidding by telephone.

To view the digital auction catalogue, visit

Looking ahead to the next Coin Expo, the show’s fall edition is scheduled for Oct. 2-3.

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