Paper Money

Bank of Canada first issue rarity sold by Heritage

An example of the only $500 note issued by the Bank of Canada sold for $228,000 in a paper money sale by Heritage Auctions.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The rarest of the nine notes in the Bank of Canada’s first currency issue, the 1935 series, sold for $228,000 including the buyer’s fee in Heritage Auctions’ world paper money sale March 7. Bidding started at $125,000. It was graded About Uncirculated 53 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Banknote.

This is the only $500 note ever issued by the Bank of Canada. It was printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd. The obverse has a portrait in an oval frame of Canada’s first prime minister (who served from 1867 to 1873, and from 1878 to 1891), Sir John A. Macdonald, wearing a fur-collared coat. The reverse is an allegorical vignette, “Fertility,” shown leaning against a fruit tree holding a sickle. The engraver was Robert Savage.

Although $500 was the second highest denomination of the series, it had the smallest print runs, in both English and French versions. Only 20,900 notes were made with English text and just 5,000 in French. The 34th edition of Canadian Government Paper Money says that 12 pieces are known in private hands. The Bank of Canada opened March 11, 1935, and the notes it issued succeeded those made in the name of the Dominion of Canada and many private issues. The 567 lots in the sale realized $1,975,746.

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