The 2016 RCNA Sale is now underway in the nation’s capital.
Hosted by New Brunswick’s Geoffrey Bell Auctions (GBA), the highly anticipated sale began with session one (Lots 1-654) this evening at 7 p.m. The session includes the remaining Ontario trade tokens from the famed Richard Cooper collection as well as his coins of the French Colonies in America, John Loye half-pennies, Montreal and Lachine railroad tokens, vexators, Bouquet Sous tokens and countermark tokens. Closing the session (Lots 485-654) are world coins and world gold.
Among the session’s top highlights is Lot 316, a Bouquet Sous token (Breton 703) estimated at $10,000-$12,000. In Very Fine – or “maybe a bit better,” according to auctioneers – the token is described as “one of the exceptional rarities of the Bouquet Sous, and indeed the entire pre-Confederation series, missing from many major collections.”
In 1955, Canadian numismatic icon Fred Bowman estimated “possibly a dozen known” Breton 703 tokens were in existence—an estimation that has yet to been challenged, according to auctioneers.
Bell said it’s the first time GBA has offered this variety. The previous offering at auction was at the Roy Hughes sale by Jeffrey Hoare Auctions in 1995. In the past 51 years before this sale, there were only five noted offerings (1965, CNA/Charlton; 1976, McKay-Clements/Frank Rose; 1988 Carney/Hoare 6; 1989 Oppenheim/Hoare 13; and 1995 Hughes Collection/Hoare 32).
According to the auction catalogue: “The obverse is problem free, save for a small flaw to the right of T in ‘Agriculture’ and trifling striking weakness in the ‘DA’ of ‘Canada’. The reverse has a handful of small blemishes, particularly in the lower left quadrant, including one dig across the leaf to the left of the ‘S’ in Sou, a small flaw next to the ‘U’ of Sou, and a distinctive lateral mark to the left of the ‘M’ in Montreal.
“A comparison of this specimen with past plated offerings the plates of past sales convinces me that this is one and the same as both Hughes and 1965 CNA Auction specimens. The reverse die is rotated approximately 20 degrees to the left relative to the obverse axis—a feature not commented upon in previous sales of a 703. Whether this in endemic to the type or just this piece is not known, although it is largely consistent with reverse die rotation of some early (cudless) strikes of Br 700, with which it shares a common reverse die.”
Auctioneer Brian Bell said the RCNA Sale is the “highlight of the year” for GBA, which is coming off a likewise outstanding sale at the recent Toronto Coin Expo, where a classic copper Owen Ropery storecard (Breton 564) sold for nearly $23,000, among other highlights.
“It’s the gathering place,” said Bell, of the annual RCNA conventions, “and having it in Ottawa made it one of our must-have venues.”
“Ottawa is full of history and we have attempted to make this offering an historic event to suit the venue,” he said, adding GBA hasn’t bid to host an RCNA auction since 2010, when it hosted the sale in Saint John, N.B., Bell’s home province. But this year’s sale is likely auction firm’s “best offering to date,” according to the long-time auctioneer.
“There are numismatic treasures not seen for generations and you are invited to participate.”