The Arcadia Collection, which highlights a seminal part of North American financial history, is set to cross the block during the Toronto Coin Expo Spring Sale this May.
Coins of the French Regime, which includes New France – the former French colony spanning much of present-day eastern Canada and parts of the U.S. – are “some of the most important pieces of history in Canadian numismatics,” said auctioneer Brian Bell, of Geoffrey Bell Auctions. The upcoming sale, which begins May 2, a day before Coin Expo kicks off, will feature nearly 500 individual coins covering the entire range of French coinage struck for, or used in, colonial North America.
“It spans well over a century, incorporates many distinct coinage types and metals, comprises regular struck coins, overstrikes and countermarks and has a wealth of varieties with at least some types struck at each of the 29 French mints,” said Bell, who’s also the owner of The Coin Cabinet in Moncton, N.B.
Described by Bell as the largest specialized collection of coinage for the French Colonies of North America to ever appear at auction, the offering includes:
- a 1658-A (Paris Mint) douzain pattern issue struck in silver as a piedfort and offered as Lot 106 with an estimate of $6,000-$8,000;
- a 1658-A (Paris Mint) sizain pattern issue, also struck in silver as a piedfort, and offered as Lot 105 with an estimate of $5,000-$7,500;
- an “extremely rare” 1641-A (Paris Mint) quinzain of 15 deniers as Lot 104 with an estimate of $3,000-$4,000; and
- what’s described by auctioneers as “an extremely rare” John Law gold issue to be offered as Lot 321 with an estimate of $2,500-$3,000.
Other highlights of the Arcadia Collection include more than 125 different fleur-de-lys counterstamps struck on billon coinage in 1640. It’s the largest offering of this material ever at auction, Bell said, adding it includes “types not known to Robert A. Vlack as well as a wide variety of different host coins, some extremely rare.”
Rounding out the collection’s offerings is a series of “overlooked issues that were important to early Canada,” Bell said.
This includes Lots 339-348, each of which was recovered from the French ship Le Chameau after its fateful 1725 voyage, in which the Naval transport vessel sank to the bottom of Cape Breton, N.S., with a treasure trove of gold and silver pieces.
“This catalogue will become a reference work for this under-appreciated series, and the sale will be of interest to collectors in Canada, France, the U.S. and the Caribbean islands,” said Bell, adding the consignor, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a U.S. resident.
“The consignor chose us over Stack’s and Heritage because he’s seen our work in the past and liked it. He knew we could do this, and I was very encouraged by that.”
GOVERNOR GENERAL MEDALS
The two-session, 1,459-lot sale also includes a section of governor general and lieutenant governor medals, which will be offered as Lots 588-597.
Among the governor general’s roles is encouraging excellence through the presentation of honours, decorations and awards – something of particular interest to numismatists. One of the awards given out by the governor general is an academic medal, which are struck in bronze, silver and gold and awarded to the student graduating with the highest grade point average from a Canadian high school, college or university program.
“They are a prized piece of history, both for the recipient and their family, and for the collector after one comes to market,” said Bell.
The first, awarded to “H.E. Wigg” and in Uncirculated condition, has an estimate of $300-$400 while the second – also in Uncirculated condition – is expected to bring $200-$250.
Under the leadership of Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, the fourth Earl of Minto, Canada “experienced an increase in national pride and immigration,” Bell said.
“He created our National Archives, promoted the creation of national parks and established our first anti-tuberculosis foundation.”
The upcoming auction is dedicated to late numismatist Walter Allan, whose collection is being partly offered in the sale.
“We’ve been consigned to take care of the leftovers from his collection,” said Bell, who added Allan was a prominent paper money collector before his mysterious disappearance while he was on route to the 2016 Royal Canadian Numismatic Association Convention in Boucherville, Qué.
In 2017, Allan’s car was found in a soybean field near Saint-Barthélemy, Qué., about 90 kilometres north of Boucherville. He was last seen on July 21 – two days before the convention closed and he was set to return home – in Ste-Brigide-d’Iberville, about 60 kilometres east of Boucherville and 150 kilometres south of Saint-Barthélemy. The sighting was from security footage at a gas station, where he stopped to make an ATM withdrawal. This was the last time he used his bank card.
After Allan’s car was found, police carried out ground, air and water searches in Saint-Barthélemy, a sparsely populated, predominantly French-speaking “municipalité de paroisse” with fewer than 1,000 homes. Nothing more was found, and Allan has been presumed dead since 2018.
He was an active member and former president of the Canadian Paper Money Society before his disappearance.
Among the sale’s top paper money highlights is Lot 1239, an English $25 note issued by the Bank of Canada as part of its inaugural issue, the 1935 Series. In Canadian Coin Certification Service Uncirculated-63, the note (BC-11) has a serial number reading “A010771/A” and an estimate of $20,000-$22,000.
Rounding out the highlights is what’s described by auctioneers as an “ultra rare” 1890 $50 note from the Standard Bank of Canada. Offered as Lot 1446, the note – one of only three examples on the Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) census – was certified by PMG as Choice Fine-15 NET (restoration is noted). It’s expected to bring $10,000-$15,000.
For more information about the May 2-3 auction, visit gbellauctions.com.