Paper Money

Princess Elizabeth note tops bidding in Heritage auction

A final total of $2,140,937, including the buyer’s fees, was realized at the Heritage Auctions offering of world paper money on March 23.

The top result was a surprise in that it was not the expected 1-rupee note from Zanzibar. Instead, it was the first Canadian bank note to feature a portrait of the eventual queen, Elizabeth II, when she was still a less than 10-year-old princess. It drew 17 bidders and the sale’s highest result of $132,000, more than five times its pre-auction estimate of $25,000. In addition to its low serial number 7 and a grade by Paper Money Guaranty of Choice Uncirculated 64, it was one of only about 200,000 notes printed in French compared to more than a million in English. The issue was not around long, as it was replaced by ones with the portrait of Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, in 1937.

The second-place result, a Napoleonic War era rijksdaalder set from Netherlands East Indies, had the highest presale estimate of $80,000; it went for $90,000. The complete denomination set of large-format 100-, 200-, 300-, 400-, 500-, and 1,000-rijksdaalder notes dated 1810 ranged in grade ranging from Very Fine to Extremely Fine. The text is printed in Dutch and Javanese. Less than 2,000 pieces were reported issued for each denomination, and they were actively redeemed in stages within a few years of issue.

A Province of Canada $5 note for Montreal with the date 1.10.1866 in PMG Choice Fine 15 realized $72,000, nearly triple its estimate. Heritage says this is the most ever paid at auction for a Province of Canada note. It has a portrait of Queen Victoria on the left of the face and a vignette of a sailboat on the right, with a centralized vignette of the Great Seal of the Province of Canada flanked by a lion and an Indian princess.

A Curacao high-denomination Curacaosche Bank 500-gulden note of 1930 unexpectedly sold for $50,400, or over five times its estimate, despite a tape repair resulting in a net grade by PMG of Very Fine 25. The catalog explains that this was the first to feature the classic design that appeared on bank notes for Curacao and the Netherlands Antilles into the 1960s.

Bidding for the Extremely Fine 40 Zanzibar note ended at $45,600, still above its low range estimate of $40,000. The 1-rupee note is the lowest denomination in the series and was only issued in 1920, while the 5-, 10-, 20-, 50-, 100-, and 500-rupee notes were first issued in 1908 or 1916. It is the only value in the series printed by Thomas de la Rue, while all other denominations were printed by Waterlow & Sons. The auctioneer speculates that it is possible that this low denomination was created in response to a coin shortage, when the price of silver rose during World War I and coins were hoarded.

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