Paper Money

On the Block Paper Money: Vignette of queen's hair appears to show 'evil face'

A rare set of specimen notes prepared for the Bank of Canada was sold at auction for $16,000 Jan. 13 by Stack’s Bowers Galleries during the New York International Numismatic Convention Jan. 9 to 12 in New York City.

The eight-piece set was estimated to bring $15,000 to $25,000.

The set, featuring denominations from $1 to $1,000, is one of only seven possible sets, since only seven of the $1,000 specimen notes are known.

The set features examples of the short-lived 1954 Canadian notes variety known as the “Devil’s Face” series, featuring a portrait vignette of Queen Elizabeth II with a hair styling that creates a sinister-looking face within the queen’s hair.

The vignette was based on a photograph but when the design was engraved, an apparently random mixture of light and shadow elements in her hair formed a face-like appearance. All denominations in the series were printed with this image.

Darkening some of the highlights in the hair removed elements that had generated the so-called devil’s face.

Different vignettes of Canadian scenic views appear on the backs.

The specimen notes in the set were graded Choice Uncirculated 64 Net, with “Previously Mounted” as the comment regarding the net grade. ¦

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