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Newsletter #197, June 26, 2010

It was a busy week in the collectables auction business

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The world's largest coin moved further afield this week, selling at an Austrian auction for €3.27 million (US$4.02). Spanish gold dealer Oro Direct Sale S.L.U. said it bought the coin, which has a face value of $1-million, to exhibit to clients. The coin, made of pure gold, weighs 100 kilograms (3,215 ounces) and is 53 centimetres (21 inches) in diameter, according to the Dorotheum’s web-site. The coin is worth 3.23 million euros, based on the metal’s price Thursday.

“We believe that this is a way to demonstrate our opinion that gold is the ultimate store of wealth,” Oro Direct spokesman Michael Berger said by phone. “As long as central banks continue to print enormous amounts of paper money, we believe physical gold will be a fantastic investment.” Eight bidders took part in the auction.

million dollar gold coinThe Maple Leaf, minted in Canada in 2007, is listed in the current edition of Guinness World Records. It was previously on loan to the collection of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, according to the Dorotheum. One side shows three maple leaves, Canada’s national symbol, and the other bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II.

The coin was sold on behalf of the liquidators of Austrian investment and venture-capital firm AvW Invest AG, Dorotheum spokeswoman Ingeborg Fiegl said on June 11. She was unable to identify the liquidators.

The coin is very popular and has appeared several times in Vancouver over the past 3 years, most recently at the Mint's pavilion at the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Also this week, a Bank of Vancouver $5 note with the serial number 000001, sold for a record $177,000. The B of V only existed from 1910 to 1914 in the newly renovated Flack Block, at the corner of Cambie and Hastings.
Bank of Vancouver $5 note
"It's not in mint shape, but it's in very fine condition," said Charles Moore of Moore Numismatic Auctions, who sold it June 24 in Toronto. "It was folded three times, and appears to have been carried in a wallet. But it's in much finer condition than most large-size banknotes of that time."

In fact, Moore thinks it's in the best shape of any of the nine Bank of Vancouver notes that are still known to exist -- six fives, two 10s and one 20. Three of the nine are in the National Currency Collection in Ottawa, which means there are only six Bank of Vancouver notes in private hands.

Number 000001 is supposed to have been given to one of the bank's directors, although which one is unknown. Moore said he died in the 1950s and the note went to a relative who lived in Calgary, who sold it to a Calgary coin dealer.

Moore collected No. 1 notes and bought it off the Calgary dealer in the 1980s for $8,000. But he wound up trading it to a B.C. collector.

"I had a client who saw me [buy] it and said, 'You're a coin dealer, you're not allowed to collect,'" Moore recounts with a laugh.

"So I wound up trading him for some other things I wanted for my collection: he had a number of serial No. 1 notes. It then went to the Victoria area. He passed away and his daughter called me for an appraisal on it earlier this year. She had no idea of the value, and I said $40,000 or $50,000. She said, 'Would you sell it?'"

Bidding began at $40,000 and went up in increments of $5,000. When it reached $100,000, the bids went up by $10,000, then back to $5,000. When it reached $130,000, the winning bidder displayed their intention to buy it by upping their bid by $20,000 to $150,000, which sealed the deal. Auctioneer Charles Moore gets a 15 percent commission, or $27,000, which was added on top.

The record sale price for a Canadian bank note is $322,000 US for a 1911 Dominion of Canada $500 note. The previous record for a Bank of Vancouver note was $28,250 in 2008.

Paul Henderson goal jersey coinFinally, Paul Henderson's legendary 1972 hockey sweater fetched over $1 million at an auction following a late surge of interest, and its new Canadian owner promised Wednesday to bring it back home from its U.S. location.

The final price makes the jersey Henderson wore when he scored Canada's winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviets perhaps the most ever paid for a hockey sweater.

The winning bid smashes what's thought to be the record at auction — $191,200 for a Bobby Orr rookie jersey. It is also more than four times the $250,000 that a few of Wayne Gretzky's jerseys had fetched in private sales.

A flurry of bids late Tuesday culminated in a winning offer of US$1,067,538 submitted by Mitchell Goldhar, the owner of SmartCentres, a private real-estate development

company based in Vaughan, Ont., north of Toronto.

"It's one of the purest pieces of modern Canadiana that I think there is," Goldhar said. "I honestly couldn't believe that it was coming up for auction. I never even hesitated."

The sweater will be sent on a national tour. Goldhar plans to make arrangements for it to be displayed at community centres, shopping malls and museums, including the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada's Sports of Fame.

After the '72 series, Henderson gave the jersey to Team Canada's trainer Joe Sgro as a gift, and Sgro later sold it. It most recently belonged to an unidentified private American collector.

The sweater's previous owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a cancer survivor and apparently plans to donate some of the proceeds of the sale to charity. Henderson himself was diagnosed with cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, last fall.

Henderson said the new owner called him Wednesday to invite him to travel with the jersey as much as possible.

"One of the reasons he bought it was to make sure Canadians would be able to get to see it and enjoy it, so I think that's a touch of class," Henderson said.

"He did not want someone to buy it just to put it away and be anonymous, he thought it should be shared with Canadians, and man, I was really impressed with that."

Henderson expected the white-and-red sweater to fetch up to $600,000, but the final price was a shocker.

"I think it blew everyone away," he said of the winning bid. "Even Marc, the auctioneer, he was bewildered by it also."

"The attention that was given to the jersey has exceeded by far what we thought it would do," said Juteau.

Bidding opened at $10,000 and offers were soon coming fast and furious from such Canadian-based companies as Molson, The Forzani Group Ltd. and B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison.

Juteau said the Henderson item has generated as much interest as the personal souvenir collections of Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard when those went on sale.

"But for one given piece, [this is] the most attention we've ever gotten," he said.

Henderson, 67, who donated another Team Canada jersey and a stick to the Hockey Hall of Fame, has often said he'd like to see this one go to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Paul Henderson hockey jersey
The common theme here is that there will always be a ready market for unique collectables. The Bank of Vancouver note and Paul Henderson jersey were not in perfect condition, but each was unique, absolute one-ofs. The bullion coin is mint and is not unique, but it is only one of 5 that have been sold and the coin itself is a one-of-a-kind in the numismatic world.

Over the next few months, All Nations will be having similar unique items in its auctions, thankfully at much lower prices. Examples from the July 3 auction are a proof specimen 1851 12 pence black Queen Victoria, printed on card stock; a British Columbia colonial mint 10¢ overprint on a 3 pence rose and a 1948 Key Date Voyageur Silver Dollar, all three estimated to be valued for $1,000.

On a smaller scale, you can still enjoy mementoes of a unique experience by collecting commemoratives of the events, such as the 25th anniversary Paul Henderson Goal silver dollar and stamp set pictured above and available at All Nations. The silver dollar is valued in the Charlton Canadian Coins catalogue, volume 2, 2010 edition at $35, and the stamps are listed in Scott 2011 volume 2 at $1 each. We'll see if the Bank of Vancouver note makes it into the Charlton Canadian Bank Notes 7th edition next year.

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Newsletter #198
Happy Canada Day, Eh

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