Chinese bullion tops Geoffrey Bell Expo sale

By Jesse Robitaille

All realizations include buyer’s premium.

Three Chinese bullion coins highlighted the two-session, 1,213-lot sale hosted by New Brunswick’s Geoffrey Bell Auctions in conjunction with Toronto Coin Expo this May.

The trio of bullion coins – offered as Lots 655, 654 and 653 – brought $60,000 altogether at the May 3-4 sale, topping the combined estimates by about $20,000.

“We were generally pleased with the sale,” said auctioneer Brian Bell, who also owns The Coin Cabinet in Moncton, N.B. “The Chinese coins exceeded our expectations, but we felt there was potential for them to do so. These coins were particularly interesting in that the quality of the Proofs are very important, when comparing them to a circulating coin.”

The sale’s top-earning piece was a 1992 Chinese 200-yuan one-kilogram silver coin offered as Lot 655. It sold for more than six-and-a-half times its pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$5,000 when it hammered down for $26,400.

Lot 654 was another Chinese bullion coin, this struck in 1987 in 12 ounces of Proof gold and with a denotation of 1000 yuan. Known as a Chinese gold panda coin – an official bullion coin produced by the People’s Republic of China – this lot realized $24,000 after a pre-sale estimate of $25,000.

Lastly, Lot 653 offered another 1987 Chinese gold panda, this struck in five ounces of Proof gold and with a denomination of 500 yuan. It brought $9,600 after a pre-sale estimate of $10,000.

COVER NOTES

Paper money “continued to outperform,” Bell said, with some examples surpassing auctioneer’s expectations. “Merchant scrip was strong and doubled estimates in general.”

The cover of the auction catalogue featured two banknotes issued by the Bank of Toronto, a 1911 $5 note (CH 715-22-08) and an 1876 $4 note (CH 715-18-02), the latter of which is a new discovery.

Offered as Lot 1196, the $5 note was graded Fine-15 by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and described by auctioneers as a “superb rarity” and the only example known to exist. It sold for $20,400 after a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.

The $4 note was offered as Lot 1192. Also described as a “superb rarity” with the only previous example residing in an institutional collection, this note brought $11,100 after pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$12,500.

THREE SOLID SERIAL NUMBER SETS

Three nine-piece Bank of Canada sets – the first with $1 notes from the 1954 Series; the second with $2 notes from the Scenes of Canada series; and the third with $20 notes also from the Scenes of Canada series – featured solid serial numbers. The first two sets were graded by Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) while the third was graded by PCGS.

The set of 1954 $1 notes, which was offered as Lot 766, sold for $16,800 after a pre-sale estimate of $12,500-$15,000. It included:

  • BC-37b in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ (exceptional paper quality) with a star designation and a serial number of “Z/O1111111”;
  • BC-37b-i in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 with a serial number of “P/Z2222222”;
  • BC-37b in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 EPQ with a serial number of “U/O3333333”;
  • BC-37b-i in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 with a serial number of “M/Z4444444”;
  • BC-37b in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ with a serial number of “B/Y5555555”;
  • BC-37b-i in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 with a serial number of “G/Z6666666”;
  • BC-37b-i in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 with a serial number of “O/P7777777;
  • BC-37b in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 with a serial number of “X/O8888888”; and
  • BC-37d in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 EPQ with a serial number of “C/I9999999.”

The set of 1974 $2 notes, which was offered as Lot 784, also topped its pre-sale estimate of $12,000-$15,000 when it sold for $13,800. It included:

  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ with a star designation and a serial number of “BH1111111”;
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ with a serial number of “RH2222222”;
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-66 EPQ with a serial number of “BS3333333”;
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 with a serial number of “UA4444444”
  • BC-47a-i in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ with a serial number of “AB5555555”
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-66 with a serial number of “BV6666666”
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-64 EPQ with a serial number of “RG7777777”
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-66 with a serial number of “RG8888888”; and
  • BC-47a in PMG Gem Uncirculated-65 EPQ with a serial number of “RK9999999.”

Lastly, the set of 1969 $20 notes, which was offered as Lot 785, sold for $11,700 after a pre-sale estimate of $12,000-$15,000. It included:

  • BC-50a in PCGS Very Choice New-64 PPQ (premium paper quality) with a serial number of “EC1111111”;
  • BC-50a in PCGS Very Choice New-64 PPQ with a serial number of “EA2222222”;
  • BC-50a in PCGS Gem New-65 PPQ with a serial number of “EX3333333”;
  • BC-50a in PCGS Gem New-65 PPQ S/N:EH4444444;
  • BC-50b in PCGS Very Choice New-64 PPQ with a serial number of “EZ5555555”;
  • BC-50a in PCGS Gem New-66 PPQ with a serial number of “EA6666666”;
  • BC-50a in PCGS Gem New-66 PPQ with a serial number of “EA7777777”;
  • BC-50a in PCGS Gem New-65 PPQ with a serial number of “EE8888888”; and
  • BC-50a in PCGS Gem New-65 PPQ with a serial number of “EW9999999.”

COINS & TOKENS

An “upset dies” variety of a 1967 silver dollar in International Coin Certification Service (ICCS) Mint State-63 was offered as Lot 649. With only eight examples certified, this variety was described by auctioneers as “among the rarest of all Canadian silver dollars” and “perfectly struck with an exact 180-degree die alignment.” It topped its pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$5,000 by more than three times when it hammered down for $12,600.

“The consignor was very happy,” said Bell, who added the auction house has only handled one other example.

A Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) Labrador District aluminum token with a denomination of “10 M.B.” (or made beavers) was offered as Lot 700. Catalogued as Gingras 255g, this example – in Very Fine and described as “very rare” – sold for $9,000, which was more than four-and-a-half times its pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$2,500.

“This piece exceeded our expectations,” said Bell, who added “the balance of this section met our expectations and confirmed that HBC and fur trade material remains in high demand.”

Rounding out the highlights was Lot 698 was another HBC Labrador District aluminum token, this with a denomination of “5 M.B.” (Gingras 255f). In Very Fine and described as “very rare,” this piece sold for $8,400 after a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-$7,000.

For more information, visit gbellauctions.com.

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