By Jesse Robitaille
All prices in U.S. dollars.
The second part of the Doug Robins Collection, the finest and most extensive collection of Canadian pre-Confederation tokens ever assembled, will cross the block in a single-session, 389-lot sale this July.
It follows the collection’s first 550-lot offering, which was described as the “sale of the century for Canadian tokens” and realized more than $1 million when it was sold by Heritage Auctions in April 2018.
The second offering includes 341 pieces from Canada plus 35 from France and 13 from the British West Indies. The sale begins on July 5 at 8 p.m. CT, and as of June 29 – less than a week before the sale – auctioneers have received nearly 2,200 Internet and mail bids. About 4,700 interested bidders are also tracking various lot activity through the Heritage Auctions website.
Among the most popular lots leading up to the sale – based on online views and bids – is an 1815 Magdalen Island one-penny token (Breton 520). Certified as Mint State-63 Brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and offered as Lot 98180, this example has an engrailed edge and medal alignment.
“Shortly after he had placed his beautiful tokens in circulation, Sir Isaac Coffin was informed by the Crown that they were illegal, so they were gathered up and sold in Halifax,” according to auctioneers. “There, and possibly in other provinces, the tokens circulated to a considerable degree and are now seldom encountered in better than Fine condition. Mint-State business strikes are rare and tend to bring higher prices than comparable Specimen strikes.”
With a pre-sale estimate of $2,500-$3,500, the piece offered this July is described “an exceedingly handsome example of this instantly recognizable and highly coveted token type, which simply never becomes much available in Mint State at all, let alone so choice.”
As of June 29, its current bid is $2,100.
Another example with a similar grade sold for $7,200 in the first sale of the Doug Robins Collection in April 2018.
The July 5 sale of the Doug Robins Collection is what Heritage Auctions calls a “Signature Auction.” This means proxy bidding will end 10 minutes before the session start time (8 p.m. CT), and live proxy bidding will start via “Heritage Live” – the auction house’s online platform – 24 hours before the live session begins and continue through the session. Bidders can also enter last-minute bids directly with auctioneers by emailing email@example.com or calling 1-866-835-3243. For more information or to browse the upcoming auction, visit ha.com.
SHIPS, COLONIES & COMMERCE
Another sought-after lot is one of the finest known Breton 997 tokens, an 1835 Prince Edward Island “Ships Colonies & Commerce” half-penny in About Uncirculated-58 Brown.
Also certified by NGC, this piece – the “Bar Ampersand” variety – has a plain edge, medal alignment and a single “H” mintmark with a straight British flag. It’s described by auctioneers as a “considerable conditional rarity with the Ships Colonies & Commerce series, standing as one of just two certified at this near Mint-State level and certainly one of the finest known.”
The only other similarly graded example sold for $4,560 as part of the previous Robins sale.
This example is expected to bring between $1,500 and $2,500. As of June 29, its current bid is $1,300.
1794 HALF-PENNY, RARE ORIGINAL STRIKE
Crossing the block as Lot 98309 is a rare original strike of the Copper Company of Upper Canada’s 1794 half-penny (Breton 721).
Previously from the John J. Ford Collection, this proof piece is certified as Proof-64 Brown by NGC and has a plain edge with coinage alignment.
“Not long after John Simcoe took office as Governor of Upper Canada, he addressed the severe copper coin shortage in the province,” according to auctioneers.
England’s Soho Mint was approached to produce a half-penny token, and pattern pieces were prepared and sent to Canada for approval in 1794.
“At that point, Simcoe forwarded the samples to the Home Office for approval. Home Office denied the proposal and instead arranged for a shipment of worn Tower halfpence from Ireland.”
In turn, Upper Canada received “castoffs instead of a beautiful new coinage,” auctioneers added.
“The so-called originals or approval samples for the proposed coinage have delicate digits in the date on the obverse, with the ‘17’ and ‘94’ separated by a wide gap, and on the reverse have R’s with straight tails and round O’s.”
Fewer than 25 surviving examples are believed to exist.
“It is a true testament to the breadth and depth of the Robins collection that not one but several examples found their place within it,” added auctioneers.
The finest example sold by Heritage Auctions was certified as Proof-65 – only one grade point higher – and brought $6,000 as part of the 2018 Robins sale.
With a pre-sale estimate of $2,500-$3,500, the example offered this July has a current bid (as of June 29) of $1,200.
BRITISH WEST INDIES, FRENCH MATERIAL
Among the most popular British West Indies lots is the finest certified proof half-dollar issued by the historic British territories in the present-day Commonwealth Caribbean.
Offered as Lot 98388, the 1822/1 overdate (Breton 857) is graded Proof-65 by NGC. Calling it “one of the clear non-token highlights of this expansive collection,” auctioneers describe the coin as a “superb gem example of this rare type, demonstrating cascading watery brilliance over surfaces dressed in metallic tones infused with touches of gold and golden-brown.”
With a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-$8,000, its current bid as of June 29 is $5,007.
The top French highlight is a 1670-A Louis XIV five-sol coin (Breton 502) offered as Lot 98005. Certified as Extremely Fine-45 by NGC, the coin is described by auctioneers as a “very rare, one-year colonial type authorized for circulation in New France, Acadia, the French settlements in Newfoundland and the French West Indies.”
“Breton notes that a later edict revalued these pieces at six sols and eight deniers. Distinguished from the domestic French issues by the substitution of the ‘GLORIAM REGNI TVI DICENT’ legend for the usual ‘SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTVM,’ while only a modest number likely circulated in Canada, they have gained wide popularity amongst both U.S. and Canadian collectors.”
With a current bid (as of June 9) of $1,050, this coin is expected to bring between $1,500 and $2,000.