‘Outstanding’ Dawson overprint brings $40k at Coin Expo Sale

A 115-year-old banknote issued by the Canadian Bank of Commerce – complete with a rare “Dawson” overprint – crossed the block for $40,000 at the Toronto Coin Expo Sale on Sept. 30.

Auctioneer Geoffrey Bell said only four examples of this “outstanding rarity” are known to exist.

“It’s a very historical piece, and it’s very interesting,” said Bell, of Lot 757, adding this 1901 $5 note (Charlton 75-14-06a) was acquired from a Canadian dealer several years ago.

The long-time auctioneer and collector said he was “pleased with both nights” of the 948-lot sale, which was hosted by Geoffrey Bell Auctions on Sept. 29-30.

“It was very successful,” he said. “Paper money was very, very strong – even the inexpensive ones were doing well – and decimal was surprisingly solid as it has been a little soft lately; and tokens – Breton tokens in particular – were very good; and medals did well.”

Bell also noted there was increased online bidding at the recent show.

“There were a lot of people on the web. It may have been the heaviest of all the auctions we’ve ever done online.”

Prices listed do not include buyer’s premium.


With Lot 788, bidders were offered a “rare opportunity” to own a 1914 Molsons Bank $50 note (Charlton 490-34-02). In Fine/Very Fine (F/VF) condition, this note eventually realized $15,500.

“That’s a very rare note,” said Bell, adding it’s the finest example available on the market.


Another impressive highlight was Lot 460, a medal struck in 1772 to honour British explorer and Captain of the Royal Navy James Cook. It realized $10,000.

According to Bell, the Resolution and Adventure Medal, which was distributed on Cook’s second and third voyages among the South Pacific Islands and along the Pacific coast of North America, is “prized by museums and collectors alike.”

“Of course, that’s of great interest not only to Canada but also to Australia and New Zealand, and he was even off the coast of Newfoundland, too,” said Bell, who added this copper example has a 42-mm diameter and a weight of 33.8 grams.


“Errors did very well,” Bell said, adding it’s a “relatively new” area of collecting. “Back in the ’60s and ’70s, you didn’t hear too much about it, but now they’ve really popularized that aspect of the hobby.”

Among the top error highlights was Lot 696, a rare 1970 Canadian gold $1 off-metal strike error that sold for $10,000. Authenticated by Professional Coin Grading Service, this example was mistakenly struck on a gold planchet. The 1970 Manitoba centennial gold dollar was composed of nickel, but this “extremely rare” Mint error dollar – one of only four known – was struck on a gold planchet weighing 23.58 grams.

“Very desirable and a superb investment to go along with our others offered in this sale,” added Bell.


Lot 782 offered another highlight in the form of a unique trophy note: an 1886 $10 Banque Jacques Cartier note (Charlton 390-14-08).

“Certain banks are sexier than others, you know what I mean?” Bell said. “Some are much more popular than others. Black-and-white issues never used to be popular; now they’re popular. You used to be able to pick up black-and-whites for $35 or $40. Now they’re hundreds of dollars. It evolves with time and people starting to appreciate it.”

Graded Professional Money Guaranty Fine-12 Net, this unique note sold for $8,250.


Another impressive offering was Lot 899, an extensive numismatic exhibit that was displayed at this year’s Royal Canadian Numismatic Association Convention (RCNA) in Ottawa. Comprised of the most complete collection and research on the 1954 $2 banknote issued by the Bank of Canada, the set sold for $6,750. The lot also includes an internal Bank of Canada schedule prepared for the chief of currency, who was overseeing the bank’s new testing program, and provides a definitive breakdown of the 26 distinct tests.

“That’s an extraordinary collection and it took many, many years to put together,” said Bell.

According to the collector who assembled this set, the intent and characteristics of Canadian test notes were rarely, if ever, revealed to the public; in fact, the existence of this schedule remained “completely unknown” to the numismatic community until the recent RCNA Convention.

“The result of a dedicated 12-year search, the 22 notes offered up to the highest bidder undoubtedly represents the most complete set ever assembled,” said Bell, who added the research could alter our understanding of these modern experimental notes. “We recommend using Charlton as well as our presented documentation as your guide; we are certain this section will be in for major changes for the next edition.”


Rounding out the highlights was Lot 123, the 1925 Wilson Specimen (Charlton NS-3B), which realized $2,500.

This was the fourth offering by Bell Auctions of the “celebrated 1382 rarity.”

“A photographic comparison of this piece with the plates of the 1925 sale of the W.W.C. Wilson collection shows that this is the same piece as Lot 558 from that renowned sale,” reads the auction catalogue. “That specimen was sold to L.A. Renaud for $21. Renaud, later the curator of the Chateau de Ramezay, was most likely acting as an agent for the true buyer.”

The pedigree between Renaud and Richard Cooper, whose collection this example previously belonged to, “remains obscure for now,” according to the auction catalogue.

“Regardless, with Wilson, Renaud and Cooper, outstanding pedigree and associations for so prized a type.”

For more results from the Fall 2016 Toronto Coin Expo Auction, visit auctions.gbellauctions.com.

Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.