OTD: Dominion of Canada issues first $5 bill

On today’s date in 1912, the Dominion of Canada issued its first $5 banknote, more than 11 million of which were printed.

Known as the “train note,” the sought-after collectible features a central vignette of a train on its face rather than a traditional portrait. On the face, the Ocean Limited (now known simply as The Ocean) is travelling through Nova Scotia’s Wentworth Valley on the Intercolonial Railway. Towards the top of the face is the note’s printing location and date, “OTTAWA, May 1st, 1912,” beneath which are the words, “DOMINION OF CANADA / WILL PAY TO THE BEARER / FIVE DOLLARS.”

On the back of the note is lathework plus Roman and Arabic numerals.

There are eight different types of 1912 $5 banknotes based on seal type, signature combination and signature type.

A 1912 $5 ‘No Seal’ variety in Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ (exceptional paper quality) hammered down for $6,500 as Lot 1102 of the April 2020 Premier Auction by Colonial Acres.


A “No Seal” variety (DC-21c) featuring the Various-Boville signature combination and a serial number reading “B465052-C” was offered as Lot 1102 in the April 3-4 Premier Auction by Kitchener, Ont.’s Colonial Acres.

Certified by Paper Money Guaranty as Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ (exceptional paper quality), it hammered down for $6,500 (plus $975 buyer’s premium).

Auctioneers described it as “an exceptional note with only a select few examples graded in at this grade point or higher” and “an opportunity to invest in an iconic Dominion of Canada note.”

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