‘King of Canadian Coins’ expected to bring $65k

1921 50-cent coin – known affectionally as the “King of Canadian Coins” – will hit the auction block this September, and it’s expected to bring upwards of $65,000.

Described by auctioneers as “Canada’s most desired coin,” this 96-year-old example will be offered as Lot 709 of the upcoming sale hosted by New Brunswick’s Geoffrey Bell Auctions. With a grade of International Coin Certification Service (ICCS) Very Good-8, this lot is described by auctioneers as a “strong example” and one of only 75 believed to have survived the original mintage of 206,398.

“This circulated example is perfect for the collector who has dreamed of owning a problem-free coin,” said auctioneer Brian Bell, who’s also the owner of The Coin Cabinet in Moncton, N.B.

This example is only one of nearly 1,600 lots to be offered via floor and Internet bidding on Sept. 28-29 in conjunction with the biannual Toronto Coin Expo, which is held at the Toronto Reference Library on 789 Yonge St.

Other highlights include the final offering of both the Richard Cooper Collection as well as the Covered Bridge Collection, the latter of which will see “fresh rarities that are coming out of storage for the first time in numerous years.” Trophy notes from many chartered banks – complemented by a Choice Uncirculated French 1935 Series $50 note – will also garner a “frenzy of bidding,” Bell said.


Among the top “trophy note” highlights is Lot 1328, the aforementioned French 1935 Series $50 note (BC-14) in Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) Choice Uncirculated-64 EPQ (exceptional paper quality). Rarely offered in such a high grade, this example is expected to bring between $20,000 and $25,000.

Lot 1346 is a 1937 Series $1,000 banknote in PMG Choice Uncirculated-64 EPQ. Featuring the signature of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and a low serial number of “A/K0000042,” this note is expected to bring $16,000-$20,000.

Rounding out the paper money highlights is Lot 1543, a 1905 Sovereign Bank of Canada $10 note (CH 685-10-08) in PMG Fine-12. An annotation – the numeral “6” – is noted in blue on the note’s front side; however, with only two examples known to exist (and with one in an institutional collection), this “superb trophy note” is expected to bring big interest and realize between $15,000 and $20,000.


A series of Indian Chief Medals will also be offered during the sale’s second session.

Lot 1223 is a Indian Chief Medal identified as #36 in Melvill Allan Jamieson’s Medals Awarded to North American Indian Chiefs 1714-1922.

In 1871, the government of the Dominion of Canada signed Treaties One and Two with the Chippawas and Crees, acquiring territorial rights in the Province of Manitoba as well as land west of Manitoba.

According to Bell, in the rush to present medals to the various chiefs, a stock medal was engraved by Joseph Shepherd Wyon and his brother Alfred Benjamin. It featured Queen Victoria on the obverse and a ring of leaves on the reverse with the centre portion left blank for future engravings.

The stock medals measured 51 mm; however, owing to the medals’ small diameter, the chiefs were unhappy as they measured the honour’s significance by its size. As a result, several medals were replaced by a more “impressive” medal at a later date.

“Medal # 36 seldom enters the market with one being offered in the 1970 Sotheby’s sale in Montreal as Lot 219,” said Bell. “It sold for $460, a princely sum in that day.”

This example has a loop at 12 o’clock and was worn as evidenced by wear and scratches, Bell said, adding that’s “quite common and considered desirable by many collectors.” There is also a name scratched on the reverse; however, it’s illegible to auctioneers. Accompanied by notes giving detailed research, this lot is expected to bring $8,000-$10,000.

Lot 1224 is another Indian Chief Medal with “VICTORIA DEI GRATIA BRITANNIARUM REGINA F:D” engraved along the top of the obverse around the left-facing bust of Queen Victoria. To the left of the bust appears the Prince of Wales’ feathers above the motto “ICH DIEN,” and to the right of the bust is the date “1860.” The reverse depicts the Royal Arms of the period surrounded by the legend “HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE.” Below the coat of arms on a ribbon is the phrase “DIEU ET MON DROIT” with the date 1840 in the exergue. Measuring 75 mm, this lot is expected to bring $15,000-$20,000.

Rounding out the Indian Chief Medals is Lot 1225, which features the same obverse and reverse as the previous lot but with a diameter of 60 mm.

“The finish on the medal is matte as opposed to the shiny surface of the larger medal,” said Bell, who added this middle-sized medal “rarely comes to the market and is considered the rarest of the three sizes.”

The lot has a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.


The upcoming sale will also include an “unprecedented and historic offering” of 14 medals presented by various Governors General of Canada.

“These include some of the most beautiful and rare examples produced by the Wyon family for Lord Dufferin, Lorne, Landsdowne, Stanley, Aberdeen and Minto in gold, silver and bronze,” said Bell, who added these types of “named and presented medals are seldom offered for sale, making this upcoming sale a tremendous opportunity for collectors to acquire a piece of Canadian history.”

From 1872-78, Lord Dufferin served as Canada’s third Governor General. Among his many accomplishments in office was the institution of two Governor General’s awards, one for excellence in academics and another for excellence in sport. These medals are presented annually through the present day.

Among the highlights of this section is Lot 1230, an 1876-dated Governor’s General medal in gold. Awarded by Dufferin to the Québec Curling Club in 1877, it’s one of only 18 issued and one of only four known to exist. This example is expected to bring $7,500-$10,000.


A number of J.O.P. silver dollars will also be offered as part of the Sept. 28-29 sale. Named after their producer Joseph Olivia Patenaude, a British Columbia businessman and promoter of Canadian silver mining, the silver dollars feature the now-famous “J.O.P.” counterstamp between the canoe and year-date on the reverse.

“We have noted three types of punches in past sales and now present a unique type that has been recently discovered,” said Bell.

Lot 715 is a 1935 counterstamped silver dollar featuring “PATENAUDE” rather than the usual “J.O.P.” counterstamp. In PCGS About Uncirculated-58, this unique example has an estimate of $20,000-$25,000.

“We believe the $20,000 starting price for this rarity is conservative,” added Bell.

For more information or to place a bid, visit gbellauctions.com or icollector.com/Toronto-Coin-Expo-Fall-Sale-2017_a30939?m=all.

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