Canada’s rarest coin coming to ‘National Show’ in first public display for 30 years

For the first time in about three decades, Canada’s rarest coin – the 1911 silver dollar – will be on public display in its home country.

This weekend, on Sept. 7-8, the 108-year-old silver dollar will be displayed at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show, which is being held at the Hilton Mississauga in Mississauga, Ont. To be showcased as part of a complete nine-piece set of 1911-12 specimen coins, the iconic rarity is one of only two examples struck in silver after King George V came to the helm of the monarchy – and its dominions, including Canada – after the death of his father, Edward VII, in May 1910.

“It’s the first time it’s been publicly shown in almost 30 years,” said coin dealer Sandy Campbell, owner of Nova Scotia’s Proof Positive Coins, who recently partnered with another dealer in Manitoba to acquire the only privately owned 1911 silver dollar.

“It’s Canada’s most famous coin and one of the most famous coins in the world, and the story behind it is incredible in itself,” added Campbell, who expects people – collectors and non-collectors alike – to turn out to see Canada’s most significant piece of numismatic history.

Campbell, who acquired the rarity this August with Ian Laing, owner of Winnipeg’s Gatewest Coin, will showcase the coin at his table – #30 – this weekend.

It will be shown alongside the other coins in the 1911-12 set, which also includes 1911 one-, five, 10- 25- and 50-cent coins and a sovereign plus 1912 $5 and $10 coins, in its original red leatherette Ottawa Mint case.

Known as the “Emperor of Canadian Coins,” it’s perhaps the most storied rarity in all of Canadian numismatics.

The death of the monarch in 1910 required a new effigy for the following year’s circulation coinage.

“Plans to issue a $1 coin and two more gold coins was a clear sign of expanded growth in commerce,” said Campbell, “but plans to issue a nine-coin George V type set quickly went off the rails. The box was produced to house the coins, but the dollar was axed and the $5 and $10 gold were delayed until 1912.”

Only two 1911 $1 coins were struck in silver (another example was struck in lead and discovered in 1977 inside an unmarked paper package on a shelf in Parliament’s East Block by employees of Canada’s Department of Supply and Services).

Aside from the example coming to Mississauga on Sept. 7-8, the only other 1911 silver dollar has been held in the Bank of Canada’s National Currency Collection in Ottawa – on loan from the British Royal Mint – since the 1970s.


Once listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s most valuable crown, the 1911 silver dollar was publicly anonymous before 1960, when U.K.-based auction house B.A. Seaby announced it had acquired one “from an undisclosed source.”

It then sold to dealer Les DePoy, of Arcadia, Calif., plus about a dozen other people, who each owned it for anywhere between one year and nearly two-and-a-half decades.

In 2003, the coin sold for $1 million as part of the Belzberg Collection.

“The last time I owned the coin was the last time it was displayed publicly,” added Campbell, who first acquired the coin in 1988 from Montréal, Qué.’s Empire Industries.

“People deserve to see it.”

The complete set has only been displayed once before – in the late 1980s, when it was still owned by Empire Industries – at a coin show called Nuphilex in Montréal.

The 1911 silver dollar coming to the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show this September was previously owned by late numismatist George Cook, of Calgary, who devoted more than 25 years to collecting every major rarity issued by the Canadian government and successfully assembled one of the most significant numismatic collections in North America.

Through its provenance dating back to Sir William Grey-MacCartney, deputy master at the Royal Mint from 1903-13, and his family, which held the coin from 1911-60, to B.A. Seaby Ltd., a U.K.-based auction house that held the coin for the next three years; to more than a dozen other individuals, dealers and partnerships who’ve laid stake to the piece of Canadian history.

Trajan Media, the publisher of Canadian Coin News and Canadian Stamp News, owns the biannual National Postage Stamp and Coin Show, which is held each spring and fall at the Hilton Mississauga on 6750 Mississauga Rd., in Mississauga, Ont.

The two-day show will be open on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $3 on Sept. 7 and free on Sept. 8.

For more show details, visit

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