Covered Bridge Collection heats up as Spring Toronto Coin Expo approaches

By Jesse Robitaille

A set of low serial number banknotes, each with the same “000005” ending, is continuing to garner widespread attention leading up to this year’s Toronto Coin Expo Sales.

Discussion about the upcoming sales have reached as far away as Europe, according to Brian Bell, of New Brunswick’s Geoffrey Bell Auctions, the official Coin Expo auctioneer.

“We have people telling us upon their return from Germany that the collection was spoken of,” he said. “It’s reached the end buyers, and we’ve been asked for catalogues already. People are anxious to purchase something from this important collection.”

The set of eight 1935 Series banknotes includes six in French (with denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $25 and $50) and two in English (with denominations of $10 and $20). They belong to The Covered Bridge Collection, which includes 2,000 “highly prized banknotes” and is expected to realize more than $1 million altogether.

“The French Series $20 is such a rarity to start with, combined with the low serial number ‘5’ and the Choice Uncirculated condition assigned by PMG (Paper Money Guaranty), this note will surely command spirited bidding,” said Bell, who also owns The Coin Cabinet in Moncton, N.B. “Its large seal cousin should attract similar attention being the same choice condition. I suspect if any one note will be sold separately from the set it may be one of these beauties.”

The French $20 note will be offered as Lot 895 of the Toronto Coin Expo Spring Sale on June 1-2. “A key note to the collection, mystery surrounds this note on why an EPQ (Exceptional Paper Quality) designation was left off the tag, considering we had the set in our hands and this piece had nice paper quality with plenty of embossing,” said Bell. “This note will garner the respect it deserves; expect spirited bidding.” It has an estimate of $15,000-$20,000. The previous lot, Lot 894, will see the English $20 note cross the block. “A Bank of Canada trophy note, this French issue is on the ultra-rare list. Fifty-eight notes are on the registry with only six assigned uncirculated designations,” said Bell. “This note is worthy of estimate.” It’s expected to bring $20,000-$22,000.


Despite the high expectations for the set of 1935 Series notes, Bell said another section – this focusing on chartered banknotes – will be “the biggest surprise to many.” “Such an offering hasn’t been seen since the King Collection, offered at the RCNA (Royal Canadian Numismatic Association) in Saint John.”

Among the highlights of this section are a pair of $4 notes issued by La Banque Jacques Cartier in 1870. The first example, Lot 1122, is expected to bring $20,000-$30,000. “Charlton states no known issued notes,” said Bell. “This trophy note will attract the most serious of collectors.” The second example, Lot 1123, has a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$15,000. Other chartered bank highlights include a trio of highly graded notes (with denominations of $2, $10 and $20) issued by the Union Bank of Newfoundland in the 1880s. “For the collector who focuses on condition and beauty, the Union Bank of Newfoundland trio will attract your attention. The last ones we offered were from the Geoffrey Bell Collection and garnered record prices,” said Bell, who added the 1889 $50 note brought $42,000.

Lot 1221, the $2 Union Bank of Newfoundland note, is graded PMG Choice Uncirculated-63. It has a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$5,000. The following lot, 1222,  is the $10 denomination and was graded Choice Uncirculated-64 EPQ by PMG. It’s expected to bring $12,000-$15,000. Lastly, Lot 1223 will see the $20 Union Bank of Newfoundland note cross the block. Also graded Choice Uncirculated-64 EPQ by PMG, this lot has a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$25,000.


Bell admitted there were “a few challenges” with cataloguing the extensive Covered Bridge Collection. The first challenging decision was choosing how to sell the material across two sales. “We decided to offer two-thirds of the material in the spring. We are trying to be as transparent as possible with the collection so our clients may budget appropriately,” he said, adding the Toronto Coin Expo Fall Sale will take place Sept. 28-29. “We’ve seen other Canadian auction firms try to pound out the product unsuccessfully so we encouraged the family to slow the pace and realize more. They listened and we anticipate superb results.” Another challenge, according to Bell, was the quantities of certain replacement notes.

“We needed to think outside the box on this one, so we suggested having them all graded and doing a big promotion with the Toronto Coin Expo organizer and owner Jared Stapleton,” said Bell, who added more than 400 notes were graded by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) for the spring show and will be offered “at a substantially reduced price.”


Bell said Coin Expo attendees will be able to use their daily admission tickets for a chance to purchase one of a limited number of these PCGS-graded replacement notes. “These beautiful notes will be priced significantly below book value and will sell out daily,” he said. “There will be a new offering every day, but the only chance to get these special notes will be at the front door with your daily admission. Yes, each day, both the spring and fall Toronto Coin Expo shows will have something different available when you get your ticket.”

Each of these notes – like all notes from the Covered Bridge Bridge Collection – features the Covered Bridge pedigree on their holders.

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