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Bank of Canada 1935 Banknotes

One of the most interesting paper money issues from Canada is the 1935 series. The Bank of Canada’s first issue featured 10 denominations including $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, $100, $500, $1000. Unlike future issues, which were bilingual, separate English, and French notes were produced. This makes a total of 20 different notes, a truly large and unrepeated issue! The notes for this issue are the first “small sized” produced by the government. Previously, bills were issued by the Dominion of Canada and were much larger, and this smaller size must have resulted in a savings of both paper and ink. We have continued this similar size for over 70 years. The $1 through $100 feature members of the Royal family. $1 being King George V, $2 Queen Mary, $5 Prince of Wales, $10 Princess Mary, $20 Princess Elizabeth (yes, the future Queen Elizabeth…but as a young child!), $25 King & Queen, $50 Prince Albert, and $100 Prince Henry. The two highest denominations feature early Prime Ministers of Canada. $500 Sir John A. Macdonald, $1,000 Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The backs of the notes have stunning engravings with allegories to agriculture, transportation, electricity, radio, etc. The $25 has an image of Windsor Castle. The French notes are all much scarcer than the English ones, with on average about ¼ the amount produced.

This series has always held a special place in the hearts of collectors. It is a very difficult set to put together, as all notes are relatively scarce. The $25 note is a special issue for the 25th anniversary of the reign of George V. This is the only time such a denomination was issued. Of the 160,000 (including both English & French) notes issued, less than 1,900 are still outstanding, making these notes not only interesting and popular, but very scarce. Decent examples can sell in the $2,000 to $10,000 range depending on condition. Of course the “key” to this set are the $500 notes. Less than 25,000 notes were produced, and there are less than 40 left that have not been redeemed by the Bank of Canada. Likely, there are less than a couple dozen in existence, and of these VERY few are the French version. In nice condition a $500 in English would likely sell in the $35,000 to $60,000 range. A French version is certainly about double this amount. What makes this set hard to get are really two things. Firstly, the Bank of Canada, issued a new series in 1937, only two years later, and withdrew the 1935 series almost right away. Secondly, higher denomination notes, which are the scarcer ones, were not only produced in limited numbers, but because of the economics of the times they were issued (the great depression of the 1930’s), very few people would have saved them, as $20 could have been a months rent! We will pay high prices for any 1935 notes, as they are always in demand by our collecting customers.


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