Elephant Castle Lady Godiva halfpenny

Our largest rolling ebay sale continues

Having decided to remain open by Appointment Only, at least for the remainder of the summer, we’re very happy to point our customers to our largest rolling ebay coin and collectibles auction. The latest installment, with our largest ever inventory of Weird & Wonderful items is now live.

Please visit us on ebay for a wonderful selection of coins, medals, and other collectibles. You can see a selection of highlighted items in this post.

We are also delighted to report that we are finally cleaning up the online inventory database on our website, and in the coming week will be posting 150 fresh new ICCS Canadian coins for your pleasure!

 

Fragment of bank note

“Uncle William’s” Secret — a century-old book reveals a hidden treasure of East Coast banknote history

One of the most delightful aspects of our particular hobby and business are the engaging stories of treasures found. Whether a Roman coin hoard unearthed in a farmer’s field, a tobacco tin of frontier gold coin found under the homestead floorboards, or a cargo of Spanish bullion emerging from the depths of a long-lost galleon, these imagination-stirring discoveries not only captivate us with tales of instant riches – they also serve as direct links to our numismatic past, sometimes adding to the historical narrative in the process.

Sometimes, however, a treasure can remain cloaked not six feet nor 1,000 fathoms under, but virtually in plain site as among the pages of a long-neglected book of fiction, migrating for generations from one shelf to another before finally revealing its hidden secret. This is a brief telling of one such recent instance, and the complete happenstance that lead to the remarkable discovery of a unique piece of eastern Canadian banknote history.

It was actually in the early days of the Covid-19 lockdown that a friend and fellow collector told me of an interesting and unexpected find. Although fond of coins and paper currency, his primary passion is in the collecting of antique books. In the course of fueling this hobby, Uncle William had found its way into his collection during the summer, I believe as part of a bulk lot. Authored by Jennette Lee and published in 1906, the protagonist of the small and innocuous hard-cover book has been described as “a genial character who has a talent for confounding land sharks and ending up owning most of the property in sight”.

A hand-written inscription on the inside cover gives important context to its early owner, and reads “Mrs. Israel Lovitt Porter, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia”. We will return to this momentarily, but first – the discovery.

The fragment shows Queen VictoriaSkimming through the pages of the book, my friend came across a peculiar 9x5cm “fragment” of a document, deliberately trimmed to frame a classic contemplative portrait of Queen Victoria at center, with lion and unicorn at left and right respectively. Any mystery as to the origin of the host document was only momentary, as the back of the piece revealed at its center [the] “Bank of Yarmouth N.S.”. With his experience in the hobby he immediately recognized the origin document to be a banknote, and with the name of the institution at hand, he was able to narrow down the issue as being a Ten Dollar note of 1870, printed by the British American Bank Note Company.

Chartered in 1859, The Bank of Yarmouth conducted business in Nova Scotia until failing in 1905, due to the fraudulent paying of dividends without the necessary capital to sustain such payments. Although near identical Ten Dollar notes were issued by the Bank in both 1870 and 1891, this note fragment was just large enough to reveal – through the absence of the word “Canada” above the lion’s head – that it was from the earlier of the two issues.

Bank of Yarmouth 10 Dollars 1870 Proof courtesy Bank of Canada Museum

Bank of Yarmouth 10 Dollars 1870 Proof, courtesy Bank of Canada Museum

Further examination of the fragment revealed a subtle but highly-important discovery – the top part of two signatures appear at the bottom left and right, undoubtedly those of the Bank’s Cashier and President. The significance of this rests in the fact that although all surviving notes of the Bank of Yarmouth are very rare, The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Bank Notes lists the 1870 Ten Dollar issue as existing only in “Institutional Collections”. Further research into the collection of the Bank of Canada Museum, however, indicates that only a single unissued Proof of this note exists in the collection. Thus, this small trimmed vignette of Victoria, having rested against all odds among the pages of “Uncle William” for more than a century, has now revealed itself to most likely be the only surviving example of the issue – an irreplaceable link to the history of this Eastern Canadian chartered bank.

And what of the link, if any, to the owner of the book? Preliminary research reveals only that Israel Lovitt Porter was born in Yarmouth in 1883. He was listed on local property rolls as a Merchant, and must have been reasonably successful as he and his wife – Catherine Gardner [Cann] Porter – held title to at least three homes on Forest Street, two of them for a remarkable 64 years until Catherine’s death in 1983.

Did Porter, in the course of running his business, come across the note and trim it down to Victoria’s portrait for posterity, as its redemption value would have been null and void after 1905? Or rather, is it entirely unrelated in its origin to the owner of the book, and simply encountered and retained in its current state for the lowly but practical purpose of serving as a bookmark?

To these questions we will likely never have adequate answers, but the very fact that this unique fragment has survived a century and half, two World Wars, and endless opportunities to become lost in the dustbin of history is both remarkable and delightful to collectors and students of Canadian chartered banknote history alike. Proof positive as well that sometimes numismatic/currency treasures can indeed be found without the use of either a shovel, metal-detector, or scuba-tank!

Sean Isaacs

Knight Bachelor Badge

The second wave of our ebay sale arrives!

I hope this brief update finds everyone and their families safe and secure, as this insidious disease moves from being a distant threat to a very local one that now penetrates the sanctuary of many if not all of our own communities, big or small, rural or urban. Our faith, perseverance, and steadfast adherence to the very sage public health advice will carry us through to brighter days ahead.

Although now approaching one full month since the temporary closure of our retail store here in Almonte, it has been a very busy period for Alliance Coin & Banknote. Thanks to the wonderful support of our mail-order customers, more than 100 items from our recent Spring Catalogue have now found their way into the homes of fellow house-bound collectors. Hundreds of diverse items remain available from this price-list, so please feel free to browse its pages.

I am also very pleased to report that we have just closed out our single most successful ebay “Weird & Wonderful” campaign of the past few years, with more than 200 lots heading out to quite literally every corner of this continent. As with most industries these days, times are tough for the collectibles small business community, and I would like to humbly and sincerely thank our customers for your support over the past month.

I am also delighted to announce tonight’s launch of “wave two” in our ebay campaign, with new lots being added each and every day. Highlighted here is a small teaser selection of the truly remarkable items we have coming up for sale in the coming days – keep watch via the ebay link, and consider adding something new and unique to your collection!

Once again, I wish everyone well in the coming weeks.

Stay safe, and keep the faith.

Sincerely,
Sean Isaacs

Telephone: 613-256-6785
Toll-free: 888-592-4141
Email: sean@alliancecoin.com

Click to enlarge the images below!

Alliance Coin & Banknote retail store

Spring Catalogue now available!

If you had suggested to me six months ago that I would be running Alliance Coin & Banknote in self-isolation from my second floor home office, with its pleasant view of snow-dusted farmer’s fields across the street, I would have suggested staying away from the newly-sanctioned “edibles”.

Yet here we are, with our communities and society taking exceptional steps in times of exceptional public health crisis. Like all things, we will eventually move beyond this and once again grow and prosper, although in various ways it will likely be the formative experience of our time. Caution, patience, faith, and mutual support are definitely the key rules to live by in this current struggle, and I wish all of our customers, friends and colleagues continued health and sanity.

Both our Almonte store and Chris Green Stamps in Ottawa (the location of our Wednesday appraisal services) will continue to remain closed for the foreseeable future. We continue to monitor our telephone and email messages on a daily basis, however it will very likely be a further month before we are able to resume face-to-face transactions, out of a continued abundance of caution for the well-being of both ourselves and our customers.

In the meantime, the wheels of productivity cannot and will not stop in our industry. The cancellation of all trade-shows for the next two months certainly has not dampened the desire or need for collectors to keep collecting – and to this end, we have put all of our efforts into two projects.

Spring Catalogue
This first, being our new and largest-ever Spring Catalogue, I am very pleased to launch with this newsletter. All orders will have a fixed shipping cost of just $3.00, and with more than 1,200 lots, there should be something enticing for every numismatic interest. Our shipping department remains open and ready, so please order as early as possible for maximum choice.

Download the 2020 Spring Catalogue

Online Auctions
Secondly, we have now launched our largest continuous “Weird & Wonderful” campaign on ebay, with a fresh wave of lots being posted each and every day for at least the next month. We have dug down to the very depths of our vault for this project, and will be offering our usual outstanding cross-section of coins, medals, banknotes and tokens, including some fine items I would normally have reserved for our annual public auction sale.

Please visit our ebay site daily, to see what new and cool items have been posted the previous midnight.

Mail Order
Lastly, we remain available to satisfy all your supply needs by post, and continue to have a healthy inventory of 2×2 holders, pages, and albums, etc.

Telephone: 613-256-6785 | Toll-free: 888-592-4141 | Email: sean@alliancecoin.com

In closing, my family, staff and I sincerely thank you for your continued support and patronage. My personal best wishes to your families – keep well, and keep the faith.

Sean Isaacs

Alliance Coin & Banknote retail store

Temporary Closure of Retail Store

After much deliberation and consultation, I have decided to temporarily shutter our retail store in Almonte. Quite frankly, we are a non-essential business with a large and fluid clientele, many of whom are in a vulnerable age bracket, and keeping our store open during these very uncertain coming days and weeks poses an unnecessary risk to both our customers and our staff. Even more so, when I consider that I have two asthmatics and an essential health-care worker in my own household.

Continue reading

Boxing Week Sale Dec 27th – 29th!

Announcing our Famous Year-end Boxing Sale! I am delighted to announce the return of this annual event.

In addition to offering the deepest store-wide discounts in the coin business:

  • We always have fresh new inventory available for our sale, not just the old stuff!
  • We’re opening the entire weekend for our customers, and look forward to your joining us!

Best wishes for the holidays, and for a healthy and prosperous 2020!

Sean Isaacs, family and staff

Boxing Week Blow-Out 2019

Alliance Coin & Banknote
88 Mill Street, Almonte
December 27 – 29, 2019
Friday & Saturday 9am – 7pm
Sunday 10am – 6pm

Simply click the images below to see all the details for our sale!

Or download our two page sales flyer.

1946 Cent Off Center

Sneak Peek from “Freaks & Errors” Display

We look forward very much to welcoming our local customers and friends this coming Sunday, December 1st, for some music and good cheer!

I am currently putting the final touches on our “Freaks & Errors” display, which will see the unveiling of at least a couple watershed errors that have remained completely unknown until our open-house.

Continue reading

2019 25 Cent Space Coin

New from the Royal Canadian Mint: 2019 “First Canadian in Space”

It is seldom that a new Royal Canadian Mint issue earns our applause, however a fabulous recent release has me truly impressed.

The 2019 “First Canadian in Space” Twenty-five cent issue commemorates the 35th anniversary of Marc Garneau’s historic launch on the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Continue reading

Bickel Reverse

World’s First Fire Engine Coin a Tribute to a Childhood Passion

I have always loved fire engines, since my earliest memories.  The colours, the arresting wail of a siren, the very nobility of a vehicle whose sole purpose for existence is the preservation of life and property – to this day, it is perhaps the continuing child in me that still thrills with every encounter.  As my involvement in numismatics and antiquities in general developed in adulthood, I further grew to appreciate the aesthetics and history of vintage fire engines, with their special charm and evolution.  Even entering my second decade as a professional coin dealer, however, I would never have anticipated being the catalyst for the world’s first legal-tender Fire Engine coin.

Continue reading