Specimen-grade ‘King of Canadian Coins’ changes hands

Rarity hammered down at more than $160,000

The Specimen-64 “King of Canadian Coins” featured in Colonial Acres’ Fall Premier Numismatic Auction has a new owner after selling for $160,480 at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show.

One of six Specimen-grade examples of the 1921-dated 50-cent piece known to exist, Lot 616B featured a beautiful PCGS-graded coin “garbed in a fitting sombre grey patina with undertones of regal purple.”

“Specimen strikes don’t hit the market too often,” says Colonial auctioneer Kirk Parsons. “To get interest on a $100,000-plus Specimen coin was definitely a bonus for selling.”

Canadian numismatic icon James Charlton christened the 1921 fifty cents as the “King of Canadian Coins,” given its incredibly low surviving mintage.  A total of 206,398 of the coins were originally struck, however they lay uncirculated until 1929, when foliated silver pieces came back into demand. Fearing the 1921 pieces would be considered counterfeits, master of the mint John Honeyford Campbell ordered the coins be melted, recast and re-struck to bear the date 1929. It’s believed between 50 and 100 pieces survived.

All sale prices from the Sept. 8-9 sale, held at the Hilton Mississauga in Mississauga, Ont., include the buyer’s premium.

“Overall the auction was successful, as we enter into some interesting times as the rest of the economy struggles with inflation and higher interest rates in the shadows of the short-lived ‘glory days’ many of the markets saw during the COVID,” says Parsons. “The markets seem to be changing direction in most industries; however, we are still seeing strong results in the coin and banknote sales, which is a good sign for the future of our business and auctions to come.”

The auctioneer adds, “The big spike of interest we had over COVID has remained strong for the number of bidders who are still active.”

Parsons says the two-day auction held over Friday and Saturday nights saw active bidding in many categories.

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