OTD: Thomas Douglas pays HBC 10 schillings for 74 million acres

On today’s date in 1811, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) stockholder Thomas Douglas paid HBC 10 shillings for 74 million acres of land in the Red River Valley.

According to HBC Heritage, Selkirk planned to use the land to settle displaced Scottish highlanders, the first of whom would arrive in 1812.

“The Selkirk settlement not only straddled the established NWC route to the Northwest, but also encompassed a number of important NWC forts such as Esperance, Dauphin, Souris, Pembina, Gibraltar and Bas-de-la-Rivière. This immediately caused friction. Adding to this was the issue of settlement itself. At the best of times the farmer and the fur trader are poor neighbours: the success of the former usually depends on clearing the forests that support the animals sought by the latter. But in Red River these tensions were exacerbated by the presence of a unique local population—the Métis.”

Lot 441 (shown above) sold for $2,400 plus buyer’s premium versus a pre-sale estimate of $1,500-$2,200.

RECENT SALES

Several HBC items sold during sales hosted by New Brunswick’s  Geoffrey Bell Auctions last year.

Bidding was active in the first session of last June’s Toronto Coin Expo Spring Sale. Among the top highlights was Lot 464, an HBC token struck for the post established around 1848 in Little Grand Rapids, Man. According to auctioneers, the 28-mm aluminum token was not originally listed by Gingras, although he was aware it existed (it would later become Gingras 270c). This roughly 170-year-old token hammered down for $13,500 plus buyer’s premium.

Another HBC token sold as Lot 441 for $2,400 plus buyer’s premium versus a pre-sale estimate of $1,500-$2,200.

More recently, in September 2017, Geoffrey Bell Auctions offered the final instalment of the Covered Bridge Collection.

Among the items on offer was Lot 1111, a 1690 HBC cheque.

“It is not common to see a cheque over 327 years old,” said Bell. “It is certainly not common to see a cheque connected to the Hudson’s Bay Company of that age. And to think it has a Canadian connection.”

The cheque was written by HBC banker Stephen Evans, who was elected as the company’s governor in 1692. The note is endorsed by its guarantors, all shareholders in the HBC, and is payable to William Potter, who was the company’s accountant.

This centuries-old example realized $4,600.

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