Rare 1924 ‘bank legal’ specimen to cross block at Torex Auction

By Jesse Robitaille

A $1,000 “bank legal” specimen issued by the Dominion of Canada nearly a century ago is expected to bring upwards of $75,000 at this February’s Torex Auction.

Used by the federal government to move large amounts of money between banks, the 1924-dated bank legal (DC-37S) is offered as Lot 170 of the four-session auction by The Canadian Numismatic Company (TCNC).

“For most of the 19th century, Canadian banks physically moved high-denomination, publicly negotiable bearer notes to settle their debts with each other,” explains the Autumn 2016 Bank of Canada Review.

“In 1896, to address the threat of robbery and make it easier for banks to hold their reserves, the federal government began issuing large-value notes, called bank legals, which could only be used by banks. Initially, denominations of legals ranged from $500 to $5,000, but in 1918 and 1924 the government issued $50,000 notes because settlement values had increased. In 1935, chartered bank reserves were transferred to the Bank of Canada, and these notes were no longer used.”

The example to be offered by TCNC has a grade of About Uncirculated-53 PPQ (premium paper quality) from Legacy Currency Grading (LCG).

LGC was launched last February by Jason Bradford, the former president of Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) Currency. With an opening bid of $25,000, it’s expected to bring $50,000-$75,000.

The highest-graded 1971 $10 note with an ‘EEP’ prefix has a pre-sale estimate of $35,000-$45,000 as Lot 310.


The more than 1,600-lot Torex Auction will be held across four days, with the first session kicking off at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 21, a day before the Torex show begins at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Toronto.

While lot viewing is being offered – by appointment only – at TCNC’s Québec offices from Feb. 10-13, viewing will also be held in Toronto on Feb. 21 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The sale continues on Feb. 22 with session two, which also begins at 5:30 p.m., following lot viewing from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Earlier that day, the more than 30-dealer Torex bourse will also be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and the show continues Feb. 23 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

A 1920 Royal Bank of Canada $5 note in Very-Fine-20 is expected to bring $30,000-$35,000 as Lot 105.

The remaining two auctions sessions will be held on Feb. 24-25 in Québec with no floor bidding.

Altogether, the sale features two significant collections – the Legacy Collection and the Andre Robitaille Collection – joined by selections from nearly 80 other consignors across North America.

“This fantastic February Torex Auction should make some spectacular moments and active evenings of auctioning,” said auctioneer Marc Verret, who added the sale “will be unlike any other seen in this country.”

“We expect this to be one of the prestigious numismatic events of 2020 featuring several rarities never offered to the public.”

A 1924 $5 ‘Queen Mary’ specimen note in Gem Uncirculated-65 PPQ has a pre-sale estimate of $25,000-$30,000 as Lot 169.


Among the top highlights is the highest-graded 1971 $10 note (BC-49c-i) with an “EEP” serial number prefix.

Graded by LCG as Gem Uncirculated-66 PPQ and with a serial number reading “EEP9601827,” it’s described as an “excessively rare example with only three examples known to date.”

In 2018, TCNC sold an Uncirculated-62 example for $35,400.

The example on offer this February will cross the block as Lot 310, carrying an estimate of $35,000-$45,000 and an opening bid of $17,500.

Another 1924 $5 ‘Queen Mary’ note in About Uncirculated-55 PPQ is expected to bring $26,500-$28,500 as Lot 168.


Lot 105 presents another rarity, this a 1920 Royal Bank of Canada $5 note (Charlton #630-58-02) in LCG Very-Fine-20.

Believed to be the only example known, it has a serial number reading “034005” and “should be considered as a new and extremely rare find,” Verret said.

“This is the first time we have ever come across this issue, and it is not even reported as existing in the CPMS report,” he added, of the Canadian Paper Money Society Note Registry.

It has a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$35,000 and an opening bid of $15,000.

A 1921 half-dollar in Choice Mint State-63 will cross the block as Lot 724A with an estimate of $200,000-$250,000.


Rounding out the highlights of session one is a pair of 1924 $5 “Queen Mary” notes, one of them a specimen.

Offered as Lot 169, the 1924 $5 specimen note (DC-27S) is graded Gem Uncirculated-65 PPQ by LCG and has a serial number reading “A000000.” Described by auctioneers as “rarely seen and offered,” it’s expected to bring $25,000-$30,000 with an opening bid of $14,000.

Another 1924 $5 “Queen Mary” note (DC-27) will cross the block as Lot 168. In LCG Choice About Uncirculated-55 PPQ, it has a serial number of “A122148.”

“This example is brightly coloured and would fit easily into a high-end typeset of circulated notes,” said Verret, who added this lot has an estimate of $26,500-$28,500 and an opening bid of $14,500.

A 1948 silver dollar in Superb Gem Mint State-66 is expected to bring $75,000-$80,000 as Lot 771.


Moving onto coinage, session two is highlighted by a 1921 half-dollar in PCGS Choice Mint State-63

“Most of the 1921 50 cents found in Mint State are toned,” said Verret, who added this example “is brilliant and fully lustrous” and will entice registry set collectors.

To be offered as Lot 724A, it has an estimate of $200,000-$250,000 and an opening bid of $150,000.

Another “important opportunity” for registry set collectors is Lot 771, a 1948 silver dollar in PCGS Superb Gem Mint State-66, Verret said.

TCNC sold a similar example graded by International Coin Certification Service (ICCS) for more than $75,000 in one of its past auctions.

The example crossing the block this February is expected to bring $75,000-$80,000 with an opening bid of $60,000.

An 1870 Newfoundland $2 ‘Obverse 1, 3 Dot’ variety in Choice Mint State-63 will cross the block as Lot 433 with an estimate of $40,000-$60,000.


Rounding out the session-two highlights is a trio of gold coins.

The first – an 1870 Newfoundland $2 “Obverse 1, 3 Dot” variety – will cross the block as Lot 433 and carries a grade of Choice Mint State-63 by ICCS. Considered the most important date and variety in the Newfoundland $2 gold set, this example is ICCS’ highest-graded piece with none graded higher than Mint State-63 by PCGS, Verret said.

It’s described by auctioneers as a “highly attractive and beautiful example to add to the best of collections” and carries an estimate of $40,000-$60,000 plus an opening bid $20,000.

A 1916-C sovereign in PCGS Choice Mint State-62 will also be offered as Lot 408. Described as a “luminous and lustrous example with very few field markings,” the 1916-C sovereign “is the most elusive for sovereign collectors around the world,” Verret said.

“Most of the original mintage apparently made its way to the U.S. Treasury, where it was eventually melted down.”

This example is expected to bring $35,000-$40,000 with an opening bid of $17,500.

A 1916-C sovereign in Choice Mint State-62 is expected to bring $35,000-$40,000 as Lot 408.

Lastly, a 1912 Canadian $10 gold coin in PCGS Specimen-68 will cross the block as Lot 419A.

“After close examination with a glass, no post-strike handling is observed,” said Verret, who added the coin is “a must for the advanced collector.”

Bidding starts at $29,500 with an estimate of $35,000-$40,000.

Lot pick-up will be available in Toronto on Feb. 22 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Feb. 23 from 10 a.m.-noon.

For more information, visit canadiancoinsandpapermoney.com.

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