Paper money powerful at Coin Expo Spring Sale

By Jesse Robitaille

All realizations include buyer’s premium.

Paper money continued to show its vigour this May, when one of only two known 1859 Bank of Upper Canada $2 notes with the “GODERICH” overprint brought nearly 10 times its pre-sale estimate at auction.

Offered as Lot 1455 of the Toronto Coin Expo Spring Sale, the $2 note (CH 770-22-04-04) was the auction’s top-earning lot. Its face features a red serial number “12434” at both the left and right sides, two red “GODERICH” overprints and another two black “0115” overprints.

“This was a folio number, printed on the notes before they were signed and issued,” reads the auction catalogue for the May 2-3 sale hosted by New Brunswick’s Geoffrey Bell Auctions.

A $50 note issued by the Standard Bank of Canada in 1890 – one of only three examples on the Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) census – realized $11,700 as Lot 1446 of the May 2-3 sale.

“All notes of the 1859 issue and some of the 1861 issue will be found bearing a folio number. The purpose was to facilitate sorting and recording notes unfit for further circulation, prior to their incineration.”

Each block of 1,000 notes was assigned a different folio number, and these “unfit” notes were sorted by folio number to determine their issue, denomination and branch or agency.

The only other known example with the “GODERICH” overprint – in Bank of Canada’s National Currency Collection – is numbered “13291/C” with a folio number of “0116.”

The example offered this May realized $18,600 on a pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

Other paper money highlights included Lot 1446, an 1890 Standard Bank of Canada $50 note and one of only three examples on the Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) census. Certified by PMG as Choice Fine-15 “Net” – a designation given because of the note’s prior restoration – it was printed by the British American Bank Note Company in Montréal. It features a plate-printed date, a manuscript signature at left and bank president W.F. Cowan’s signature at right. Also at left is a vignette of Cowan with a woman operating telegraphic equipment at centre.

Four consecutive ascending ‘ladder’ notes from the Bank of Canada’s 1954 Series brought $9,000 as Lot 1185.

It realized $11,700.


Described by auctioneer Brian Bell as a “superb group,” four consecutive ascending “ladder” notes from the Bank of Canada’s 1954 Series were offered as Lot 1185.

Ladder notes – one of many examples of what PMG dubs “fancy serial numbers” – have seven consecutive digits.

The ladders offered this May each had serial numbers reading “1234567.”

The $1, $2, $5 and $10 notes, each featuring the Beattie-Rasminsky signature combination, brought $9,000 on a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$5,000.

A $20 ‘Devil’s Face’ replacement note (BC-33bA) also from the 1954 Series realized $6,300 as Lot 1247.

Another note from the 1954 Series – this a $20 “Devil’s Face” replacement note (BC-33bA) – was offered as Lot 1247. Certified by Banknote Certification Service as About Uncirculated-50, the note is “rarely offered in any condition,” said Bell, and is numbered “*A/E0008828.”

It brought $6,300.

Lot 1436 offered an 1870 La Banque Nationale $6 note (CH 510-12-07) in PMG Choice Fine-15 “Net” and with a serial number reading “02471/A.”

Pen and perforation cancelled, this note was previously mounted and annotated in pencil; however, it’s scarce with only 11 examples available to the public and five in institutional collections, Bell said.

It crossed the block for $6,000.


An 1870 La Banque Nationale $6 note (CH 510-12-07) in PMG Choice Fine-15 ‘Net’ brought $6,000 as Lot 1436.

A nine-piece set of low serial number notes from the Bank of Canada’s 1974 Series (BC-47a) was offered in Uncirculated condition as Lot 1209.

Described by Bell as “an incredible run all in one opportunity” and with serial numbers ranging from “BN0000002” through “BN0000010,” this lot realized $5,520 on a pre-sale estimate of $2,500-$3,000.

Rounding out the paper money highlights was Lot 1397, an 1861 Commercial Branch Bank of Canada $3 note (CH 200-10-02) signed “A.O. Walter” and with an imprint by the Union Bank Note Company.

In Very Fine-Extremely Fine condition, this is “a very rare note to obtain,” said Bell, who added it’s “by far the best example” he’s ever seen.

To date, only eight examples have been recorded on an unpublished registry, he added.

With a serial number reading “1914/B,” this note realized $5,400.

A nine-piece set of low serial number notes from the Bank of Canada’s 1974 Series (BC-47a), numbered from ‘BN0000002’ through ‘BN0000010,’ brought $5,520 as Lot 1209.


The May 2-3 sale also featured the Arcadia Collection, which included nearly 500 coins covering the entire range of French coinage struck for or used in colonial North America.

This includes New France, the former French colony spanning much of present-day eastern Canada and parts of the U.S.

The offering comprised “some of the most important pieces of history in Canadian numismatics,” said Bell, who added it was the largest specialized collection of coinage for the French Colonies of North America to ever appear at auction.

Among the top highlights of this section was Lot 105, a 1658-A sizain pattern issue struck in silver as a piedfort. It brought $5,760.


An 1861 Commercial Branch Bank of Canada $3 note (CH 200-10-02) realized $5,400 as Lot 1397.

“Geoffrey Bell Auctions continues to efficiently process the collection of Walter Allan, including an introduction of proofs, specimen and vignettes,” said Bell.

“We will be offering a smattering of items in our Paris Sale and a comprehensive selection at the Toronto Coin Expo this fall.”

The Paris Sale will be held Aug. 10 in conjunction with the Paris Coin Show, and the Toronto Coin Expo Fall Sale will be held Oct. 3-4.

For more information about Geoffrey Bell Auctions, visit

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