McAuslane token, ‘star of collection’, sells above estimate at Toronto Coin Expo

The roughly 170-year-old token struck for the owner of a Newfoundland dry goods store has sold for $43,000 at the Toronto Coin Expo.

One of the rarities offered from auctioneer Geoff Bell’s token collection, the 1844 McAuslane token (Breton 956) was lucky to survive the Great Fire of 1846, which saw the store burned down with about 2,000 other buildings and most of McAuslane’s tokens, too.

“Very few remain,” said Bell.

In total, about 400 of Bell’s tokens and the first part of the Cooper collection went up for auction last night, and most – including the McAuslane token – went to online bidders via iCollector.

“We’ve had tremendous interest online,” said Bell, who added the auction has three times the amount of online bidders than “any other auction we’ve conducted”.

Auctioneer Geoffrey Bell said there's an emotional aspect to parting with certain pieces of his collection.

Auctioneer Geoffrey Bell said there’s an emotional aspect to parting with certain pieces of his collection.

As to why the action seems to be happening online rather than the bidding floor, Bell suspects it has to do with travel and all it entails.

“I suspect a lot of these people can’t travel to the show for one reason or another, and as a result, they’re going to do their bidding online.”

Bell said there’s a bit of an emotional aspect to letting go of his token collection.

“I think there’s always a little tinge of regret – especially with certain pieces, because you associate certain pieces with events or people you’ve dealt with over the years – so I guess there would be a little regret with some, but for the most part, no.”

The lifelong collector said one can only hold an item for so long before one has to get rid of it.

“It’s true of any pieces of art of collectables: it doesn’t matter what you collect, you’re only going to have them for a certain period of time,” he said. “You just have to accept that idea. A lot of people think once you own them, they’re yours and yours forever, but that isn’t the case usually.”

Luckily, Bell said, the memories are enough for a lifetime.

“I have a number of pieces I got from a man by the name of Don Flick, and Mr. Flick’s collection sold back in the 1970s, but there were a lot of remnants of the collection that did not sell. I met him in Nova Scotia, and he was very, very kind to me and sold all the leftover parts of his collection to me. I had such enjoyable times with him at his home – just talking medals and tokens – so I have very fond memories of the Flick family.”

He also said he had a friend and helping hand in “the dean of Canadian numismatics”, J. Douglas Ferguson.

Lot viewing runs between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for tomorrow's auction, which begins at 6 p.m.

Lot viewing runs between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for tomorrow’s auction, which begins at 6 p.m.

“He took me under his wing when I started collecting tokens and medals, feeding me stuff, helping me and mentoring me.”

“It’s certainly true of tokens and counterstamps,” he said about the sale’s big implications on those markets. “This is probably the largest presentation of counterstamps that’s ever been put out there.”


Lots 247 and 248 – a PEI Holey Dollar as well as a Dump – sold an online bidder for $1,800 and $6,750, respectively.

Lot 227, Francis McDermott’s advertising token, sold to an online bidder for $3,300.

Lot 127, an erroneous date counterfeit showing the date 1382, sold to an online bidder for $10,000.

“While its existence was known to collectors as early as 1875, by 1910, Courteau still only knew of two examples.”

Lot 74, the R.W. Owen ropery token (Breton 564) crossed the block for $18,500.


Lot viewing for tomorrow’s auction of the Cooper collection (lots 776-1351) runs between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the second floor of the Toronto Reference Library, with the auction to follow at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit iCollector or Geoffrey Bell Auctions.

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