Canada Paper Money Featuring 10, 20 and 50 Dollar Notes
Paper money is more than just a form of currency. Canada paper money banknotes contain images and references that were borne of their eras in history, and some of them are more valuable now as museum pieces or collectibles than they ever were when used for their stated monetary values.
Take the first series five-dollar note, for instance. The person whose portrait you see on this banknote is dressed in a colonel's khaki uniform that would have been worn in 1936. This man is, in fact, the son of Queen Mary and King George V, Edward, Prince of Wales. In this image, you can also see the handiwork of artists who were renowned in their time, including Harry P. Dawson, a master engraver, and Carl Vandyk, a famous photographer. This is just one of the many examples of the historic value you can find when you dive into the deep world of Canada paper money.
The Importance of Rare First-Series Notes
The first banknotes of Canada were not in fact issued by the Bank of Canada but by many smaller independent banks. However, when the Bank of Canada was established in 1935, it became the sole legal purveyor of Canadian currencies. This not only made obsolete all of the earlier banknotes but instituted the production of the "first series" of notes. Canada had not fully established its cultural independence from Great Britain at this point, so the first series of banknotes used more classical imagery that would have been found in European currency at the time. This particular release thus makes a particularly interesting specimen for numismatics, as we can trace through these notes the evolution of Canada paper money production techniques as the country started to come into its independence.
The 10-dollar note from the first series features an engraving by Harry P. Dawson. The back of the note shows an allegorical representation of the harvest, while the front side shows a picture of Princess Mary as photographed by Richard Speaight.
The 20-dollar note from this series utilizes allegorical imagery, with the two figures on the back, painted by Alonzo Foringer, representing toil. The Edwin Gunn engraving of Princess Elizabeth on this note was based on a photograph by Marcus Adams.
The 50-dollar note we know of today is one of the most common notes in current circulation, but it is not to be confused with the now rare 50-dollar note of the first series. Being crafted during the height of the Industrial Revolution, the allegorical figure on the back represents modern inventions. Robert Savage engraved the frontal image of the Duke of York, Prince Albert, wearing a classical admiral's uniform. Part of what makes this specimen so intriguing is that Prince Albert would eventually become King George VI.
A Unique Collectible in Every New Release
While the historic first series has many marvels, these banknotes are not the only ones sought after by collectors. One of the things that make collecting coins and paper money so exciting is that there are so many different versions of the currencies, and all have something to say about the periods during which they were issued. If we do a case study of the 50-dollar note, we can see a perfect instantiation of this. Just shortly after the first series was released in 1935, featuring an image of Prince Albert, the Prince's royal title changed to King George VI. Because of this, a new note was issued in 1937 with a new image befitting the newly dubbed king.
You can find both the 1935 and the 1937 notes in our inventory at Colonial Acres Coins. Ask us about our collection of 50-dollar notes from 1954, 1975 and 1988, we would love to share more insight on these collections. You will find nearly every variety of Canadian banknotes here at Colonial Acres.