Auctions | March 27, 2023

Canadian Banknote with Queen Elizabeth II Portrait Leads Auction

Heritage Auctions

Serial Number 7 Canada Bank of Canada $20 1935

An original and uncirculated example of the first Canadian banknote to feature a portrait of the eventual Queen, Elizabeth II, sold for $132,000 to lead Heritage Auctions' March 23 World Paper Money Auction.

The Serial Number 7 Canada Bank of Canada $20 1935 BC-10 French Text PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ, from the Harry M. Eisenhauer Collection, had a pre-auction estimate of $25,000.

"This is an extraordinary note from an extraordinary collection," Heritage Auctions Vice President of Currency Dustin Johnston said. "In a spectacular collection of Canadian banknotes that took more than half a century to acquire and assemble, Harry Eisenhauer brought together exceptional examples of some of the most impressive rarities from provinces across Canada.

"This note was short-lived, replaced by 1937 notes featuring King George VI within a few years of issue. More than 1 million notes were printed in English, while just over 200,000, including this example, were printed in French. Queen Elizabeth has appeared on currency for many nations that at one time were part of the British empire, from Australia to Fiji to Belize to Canada, and to find an example in this condition, with such a low serial number, makes this a monumental prize."

A Napoleonic Era Rijksdaalder Set from Netherlands East Indies rode more than a dozen bids to $90,000. This exceptional complete denomination set of Riijksdaalders notes included what were, at the time of cataloging, the first and only examples graded in the PMG Population Report. These notes were issued during the Napoleonic Wars, and were actively redeemed in stages within a few years of issue. It is reported that fewer than 2,000 pieces were issued for each denomination, far fewer in some instances, and each note in the set features a low serial number.

A rare Canada Province of Canada, Montreal 5 Dollars 1.10.1866 PC-4a PMG Choice Fine 15 nearly tripled its estimate when it closed at $72,000, the most ever paid at auction for a Province of Canada note. This exceptional early issue boasts the signature of the Deputy Receiver General, T.D. Harington, and features a portrait of Queen Victoria on the left and a vignette of a sailboat on the right, with an amazing centralized vignette of the coat of arms flanked by a seated allegory and a lion in between. 

A Curacao Curacaosche Bank 500 Gulden 1930 Pick 21 PMG Very Fine 25 Netsold for $50,400, more than five times its pre-auction estimate. This high-denomination rarity is from the 1930 series that was the first to feature this classic design, which appeared on banknotes for Curacao and the Netherlands Antilles into the 1960s. The 500 Gulden denomination is quite rare in all Curacao series, and this beauty is no exception, as the sheer face value and spending power of this note prevented all but a scant few from being saved.

A Zanzibar Government 1 Rupee 1.9.1920 Pick 1 PMG Extremely Fine 40, the smallest denomination from the series, ended at $45,600. Issued in 1920, it features only one date, while all other denominations were issued first in either 1908 or 1916. In addition, it was printed by Thomas de la Rue, while all other denominations were printed by Waterlow & Sons, meaning it is possible that this smallest denomination was created in reaction to a shortage of coinage, when the price of silver rose dramatically during World War I and coins were hoarded around the world.

Another high-grade note from the Eisenhauer collection, a Canada St. John's, NF- Union Bank of Newfoundland $10 1.5.1889 Ch.# 750-16-06 PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ, more than quadrupled its pre-auction estimate when it sold for $43,200. Due to catastrophic economic conditions, this bank's 40-year existence was terminated in 1894, but notes from this bank remain redeemable by the government of Newfoundland … although it is difficult to imagine anyone redeeming in this rare issue.