With Coin Expo cancelled, attention turns to auctions

By Jesse Robitaille

For the fourth time in two years, the biannual Toronto Coin Expo has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

The upcoming fall show, slated for Oct. 1-2 in the Ontario capital, is the latest in a series of Coin Expo cancellations dating back to May 2020, two months after the pandemic began. The latest decision came in mid-July as city officials released a “re-opening guide” for Toronto residents.

On July 16, Toronto and the rest of Ontario also entered step three of the province’s “Road Map to Re-open,” which allows indoor gatherings and organized public events of up to 25 people from different households. As for coin show venues like the Toronto Reference Library, where Coin Expo is held, they are open to the public but remain “subject to capacity limits that permit physical distancing of two metres,” according to the city’s re-opening guide, which is based on the province’s “road map.”

The Coin Expo sale also features an 1892 Canadian Bank of Commerce $5 note with two blue vertical ‘YUKON’ overprints and a bold manuscript signature.

For these meeting and event spaces, conference centres and convention centres, the provincial rules for areas in step three explain the “total number of members of the public permitted to be in an indoor portion of the rentable meeting or event space at any one time must be limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person in the indoor portion of the rentable meeting or event space and in any event may not exceed 50 per cent capacity, as arrived at by taking 50 per cent of the capacity of every room in the rentable meeting or event space, as determined in accordance with subsection 3 (3) of this Schedule, and totalling the result, or 1,000 persons, whichever is less.”

“The City of Toronto is taking the re-opening phase slowly and cautiously, doing their best to address immediate concerns related the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads a joint statement from show organizer Jared Stapleton and auctioneers Sean Isaacs, of Alliance Coin & Banknote, and Brian Bell, of Geoffrey Bell Auctions (GBA). “Based on the current protocols at our Toronto event facility, the Toronto Reference Library is closed to social gathering events for the 2021 season.”

On July 20, Ontario reported 139 new cases of COVID-19 with a seven-day average of 160.1 new cases – down 10.7 per cent from the previous week. Of those new daily cases, nearly a third – 42 – were reported in Toronto.

An autographed 1950 Central Bank of Honduras five-lempira note will also cross the block this fall. The country’s president and finance minister signed the note at the bank’s opening ceremony.

While the show is cancelled, Alliance and GBA will each host an auction session – as planned – on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively.

“Online coin and banknote auctions continue to be extremely popular with many rarities being offered and spectacular prices realized,” adds the joint statement.

Auctioneers will also offer a 1941-42 Jersey £1 note with a low serial number of ‘5.’ The note was issued while Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, was under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.


On Sept. 30, Alliance will offer a range of material, including:

  • a 1941-42 £1 note issued by Jersey under Nazi occupation with a low serial number of “5” and a grade of Uncirculated-62 from Paper Money Guaranty (PMG);
  • an autographed 1950 Central Bank of Honduras five-lempira note signed at the bank’s opening ceremony by officials, including the country’s president and finance minister, with a grade of Uncirculated-64 from Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS);
  • an 1818 English George III key-date sovereign certified as “AU Details” by PCGS; and
  • a 1911-D $2.50 “Indian Head” gold coin featuring the “Bold D” variety in PCGS About Uncirculated-58.

    A 1920 Royal Bank of Canada $100 note issued from Georgetown, British Guiana, will also cross the auction block this fall.

The following day, GBA will offer another session worth of material, including:

  • from the Harold Don Allen Collection, an 1892 Canadian Bank of Commerce $5 note with a blue “YUKON” overprint and a bold manuscript signature in PMG Very Fine-25;
  • also from the Allen Collection, a 1920 Royal Bank of Canada $100 note issued from Georgetown, British Guiana, in PMG Very Fine-30; and
  • a key-date 1948 silver dollar certified as Mint State-63 by International Coin Certification Service.

Also on offer this fall is a 1911-D $2.50 ‘Indian Head’ gold coin featuring the ‘Bold D’ variety.

Auctioneers are still seeking consignments for this fall’s sale.

“To be part of the fall Toronto Coin Expo auctions and these outstanding auction offerings, contact the auction firms to consign your collection today and have your items sold alongside these spectacular highlights,” reads the joint statement from Stapleton, Isaacs and Bell.

Going forward, GBA will host both spring Coin Expo auctions plus one of the fall sessions while Alliance will host the other fall session.

The 2022 Coin Expo shows are slated for April 29-30 and Sept. 30-Oct. 1, with the auctions beginning a day earlier.

Organizers said the return to in-person Coin Expo shows will focus on “safety, security and equality as we welcome new and past vendors and attendees to the numismatic community.”

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