By Jesse Robitaille
A pair of rare 1862 British Columbia gold gilt coins certified as Specimen-63-plus and Specimen-63 from Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is expected to bring upwards of half a million dollars at auction this June.
To be offered as Lot 434 of the four-session Torex Auction, the $10 and $20 pieces are described by auctioneers as “fully struck with very nice and clean reflective surfaces.”
“They should be considered amongst the rarest of Canadian issues,” said auctioneer Marc Verret, of The Canadian Numismatic Company (TCNC), which is hosting the 1,554-lot sale on June 28-July 1 in conjunction with the long-running Torex show in Toronto.
Four years before these coins were struck, about 30,000 gold miners flooded the banks of British Columbia’s longest river in what was the first big gold rush in Western Canada – the Fraser River Gold Rush of 1858.
There was suddenly an urgent need for coinage with which to exchange the newly found gold dust, but despite its pleas to Great Britain, the Province of Canada saw little help.
Although some temporary relief was provided by the colony’s government-issued banknotes, which first appeared in January 1862, the notes were redeemed by the government and the province soon experienced rapid population growth.
After establishing a failed assay office in New Westminster in the early 1860s, British Columbia Governor James Douglas commissioned Vanderslices Silver Manufactory, San Francisco, Calif., to design and strike $10 and $20 gold coins.
“The famous territorial gold designer Albrecht Kuner also has a stake in Canadian numismatic history,” said Verret, who added Kuner – a Vanderslices employee – was responsible for engraving and testing the dies.
In fact, he’s considered among the most famous west coast engravers and cut the dies for most of the privately issued gold coins during this era.
He struck several silver trial pieces and sent them to British Columbia with the dies, each of which prominently displayed his name and first initial – “Kuner A” – below the wreath on the reverse.
“History tells us that Kuner kept at least one set for himself and had the set gilded,” added Verret, who said this set was originally acquired from the Kuner estate by U.S. numismatist Max Mehl before being sold to Virgil Brand and then John Temple in 1983.
“There is also a gilded set in the Bank of Canada’s National Currency Collection, but these are believed to be gilded sometime in the 20th century,” said Verret, who added this lot has a pre-sale estimate of $450,000-$500,000.
‘A TON OF HEAT’
After what Verret is calling “a miserably cold winter season,” the Québec-based auction house is looking forward to summer with “a ton of heat” slated for the four-session Torex Auction.
The first two sessions will be highlighted by four coin and banknote collections, including:
- the “West Island Collection” of error coins;
- the “B.C. Museum Collection” of five-cent silver varieties;
- the “Paris Collection” of Canadian copper coins; and
- the “West Country Collection” of 20- and 25-cent pieces.
“Warmth and sunshine are upon us, and we’re kicking off the summer season offering collectables from a few prestigious collections,” said Verret, who added the upcoming sale “will be unlike any other seen in this country.”
“The West Island Collection offers some 50-plus extravagant and seldom-seen error coins; the B.C. Museum Collection offers us a vast array of rare Mint State five-cent varieties; the Paris Collection an impressive set of Canadian copper issues; and finally, the West Country Collection brings forward some outstanding 20- and 25-cent pieces.”
These four major collections are also joined by selections from nearly 60 consignors from across North America.
1935 SERIES $20 ‘LARGE SEAL’
Among the paper money highlights is Lot 201, a 1935 Series $20 “large seal” banknote (BC-9a) in PCGS Gem Uncirculated-66 with the “PPQ” designation for premium paper quality.
With a serial number reading “A026907,” this note is an “exceptional high-grade example with great centring and exceptional paper quality,” said Verret, who added this lot is tied for the finest known example.
“It’s among the nicest $20 notes we have handled in over 37 years.”
It has a pre-sale estimate of $55,000-$75,000.
Other paper money highlights include:
- Lot 203, a 1935 Series English $25 note in Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) Gem Uncirculated-65 with the “EPQ” designation for exceptional paper quality;
- Lots 210-11, a rare set of 1935 Series French and English $500 Proof notes;
- Lot 212, a 1935 Series English $1,000 note in Canadian Coin Certification Service (CCCS) Gem Uncirculated-65; and
- rare chartered notes, such as an 1875 Union Bank of Prince Edward Island $1 note in PMG Very Good-10 “Net” and a 1920 Bank of Nova Scotia $50 note described by auctioneers as “about Extremely Fine.”
The auction will also offer what Verret describes as “absolutely stunning” Mint State 10-cent coins, including:
- an 1898-dated piece in PCGS Mint State-65;
- a 1912-dated piece in PCGS Mint State-66;
- a 1913-dated piece PCGS Mint State-66;
- a 1918-dated piece in PCGS Mint State-67;
- a 1921-dated piece in PCGS Mint State-67; and
- a 1927-dated piece in CCCS Mint State-65.
FRENCH COLONIAL PERIOD
A rare document referring to the death of Napoleon Bonaparte – printed on July 7, 1821, only two days after his death – will be offered as Lot 20 with a pre-sale estimate of $500-$750.
“No doubt it will be an exceptional item for all collectors and aficionados of Napoleon collectables,” said Verret.
A range of French card money (Lots 21-39) plus an example issued at Québec in 1729 and signed by Charles de la Boische, Marquis de Beauharnois, and Intendant of New France Gilles Hocquart (Lot 40) will also be offered in the sale.
“In 1729, the governor Beauharnois, having received permission from the King of France, Louis XV, consented to the issue of card money, which was a popular and trusted currency readily exchangeable for silver coins, facilitating trade with mainland France,” said Verret, who added an example similar to Lot 40 sold at auction for more than $32,000 in 2016.
Graded Very Fine-20 by CCCS, the piece to be offered this June is expected to bring $30,000-$35,000.
“Our sales offer you a superb opportunity of viewing and possibly acquiring some of Canada’s finest collectibles in all domains,” said Verret. “We hope you enjoy viewing the listings and pictures, be it online or through our attractive coloured catalogue.”
TCNC is also the official auctioneer for this summer’s Royal Canadian Numismatic Association Convention, which will be held July 16-20 in Calgary, Alta.
For more information about TCNC, visit canadiancoinsandpapermoney.com.