What’s being called the world’s most comprehensive and complete collection of Canadian coins – including one of only two 1911 silver dollars and the finest-known 1936 “dot” cent – is heading to auction this summer.
Late numismatist George Cook devoted more than 25 years to collecting every major rarity issued by the Canadian government and successfully assembled one of the most significant numismatic collections in North America, according to auctioneers.
“In some cases, he owned the rarest of all specimens in the best condition and even possessed every example of special coins available for private ownership,” reads a recent statement issued by the Texas-based auction house Heritage Auctions, which will present the Cook Collection at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) World’s Fair of Money on Aug. 13-19 in Chicago.
“I worked with George for over a decade helping him build his Canadian set, and we became friends,” said Cris Bierrenbach, vice-president of international numismatics at Heritage. “George was one of the most focused collectors I have met in my 25 years in numismatics. He loved coins and he loved the challenge of finding the absolute best specimen for each denomination and date, and this will be evident once his catalogue is published in July.”
Cook was born in Hanover, the capital of the German state of Lower Saxony, and grew up in nearby Celle.
In 1951, after completing his apprenticeship as a locksmith mechanic, he left the poverty of post-war Europe and immigrated to Canada. He initially worked as a welder in British Columbia before spending a year on a coffee plantation in Mexico.
In 1959, Cook moved to Calgary, where he would spend the remainder of his life. He worked for Dominion Bridge, one of the country’s largest construction companies, for 10 years before founding his own business, the Geco Steel Corporation, which specialized in the production of high-pressure machinery for the petroleum industry.
In 1999, Cook was appointed as the new German honorary consul in Calgary. Soon after, he self-financed the renovations for the old German-Canadian Club of Calgary building, which had not seen any improvements in its 40-year existence. The building was later renamed George Cook Hall.
Cook was an avid collector of coins throughout his entire life, enjoying the rich history and stories behind each new discovery.
Over the years, every major Canadian rarity found its way into his collection, which includes the “extraordinarily rare” 1911 silver dollar. Considered a “Holy Grail” and perhaps the most storied rarity in all of Canadian numismatics, the coin is one of only two examples struck in silver. Outside of Cook’s collection, the only other 1911 silver dollar is permanently held in the Bank of Canada’s National Currency Collection.
Cook also owned the finest of only three known 1936 dot cents. Known the world over as one of the most famous rarities in Canadian coins, the dot cent was struck in 1937 prior to the creation of coinage dies for George VI; however, it was never released for circulation.
Cook held both the Specimen and Business strikes of the rare 1921-dated 50-cent coin, known as “The King of Canadian Coins.”
He also owned the Specimen strike of an 1875-dated 25-cent coin, a 1936 10-cent dot coin and a 1916-C sovereign, each of which is “simply unheard of in a single, private collection,” auctioneers said.
U.S. TOUR BEFORE AUCTION
Highlights of Cook’s collection will be on a U.S. tour beginning April 23-27 at the Central States Numismatic Society’s 80th-anniversary convention in Chicago.
The collection will then go on display from June 6-8 during the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp and Sports Collectible Show.
Cook’s main collection is slated to cross the auction block from Aug. 13-17 at a special session held during the ANA World’s Fair of Money with an additional online auction to be held in September.