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$1000 Canadian Bills – Are they worthless?

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$1000 Canadian Bills – Not everyone is lucky enough to have some $1,000 bills tucked away…but many are.  If you are one of those fortunate folks, you probably have read recently that the government is changing the status of these notes, so that they are no longer usable in regular commerce.  Do not panic! They are still redeemable at your local bank, so you will still be able to get your $1,000 worth. The bigger question is…will they be worth more if so many are destroyed?  The answer requires a bit of detail. Firstly, let us examine which notes are currently worth more to collectors…

The Bank of Canada has issued 4 different style notes, 1935, 1937, 1954, 1988.  Since it has been a policy not to change the note design, or the date, each year, notes are only dated one of those years, even though they we issued non-stop from 1935 to 2000.

1937 $1000 Bank-of-Canada front

If you have the 1935 or 1937 issues, you will be quite happy to know that these bills sell for a multiple of the face value.  They are quite scarce in any condition, and a call to a professional coin dealer is certainly worthy. The 1935 is issued in both English and French, the latter being rare.  Most 1935 to 1937 $1,000 bills retail in the 3 to 15 thousand dollar range depending on variety and condition!

1954 $1000 Bank-of-Canada front

The 1954 issue is a bit more complicated.  Being issued over 34 years (replaced only in 1988), it has 6 different signature varieties on the bottom of the note.  Of these, the one of greatest value is “Coyne-Towers”, commonly referred to as the “Devils Face” note, because the swirls in the queens hair looks like the face of the devil is in it.  Only 30,000 of these notes were produced, and most were redeemed a long time ago, leaving precious few for collectors. Typical examples in lightly used condition can still fetch many thousands of dollars.

The other 5 varieties can sometimes sell for more…but generally only if they are uncirculated.  Used examples do not carry any big premium, and it is very unlikely you will get more for them from a dealer.  The most common signature variety is “Lawson-Bouey”, over 1.7 million were printed, and the vast majority of the $1,000 1954 bills that survive today are of this signature mix.  Even in new condition, “Lawson-Bouey” bills generally sell for close to, or at, face value.

1988 $1000 Bank-of-Canada front

The 1988 series is also quite common with many saved.  Collectors will however pay extra for notes with a serial number that begins with EKX.  These are “replacement notes” printed to replace other notes that were misprinted and destroyed in the production process.  Condition is very important, since these notes are quite modern, anything less than brand new is normally not wanted by those saving.  Notes printed EKA, and notes is less than perfect condition, usually sell for close to, or at, face value.

Secondly, will the above mentioned notes that are only worth face value (most 1954’s and 1988’s)…be worth more in the future?  Should they be saved? That depends. My opinion is that bills from those series in less than new condition have more limited room for appreciation…so if it were me, I would only save brand new notes.  Also, it is important to consider that even if a $1,000 note sells for $1,500 or $2,000 20 years from now (nobody really knows the future)…that may not make it a good investment, because it is likely that inflation will erode your purchasing power.  It is also quite possible other investments may appreciate more (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc). A lot depends on how many are redeemed, and what the future demand from collectors will be.

Michael Joffre is an avid Numismatist, and President of Carsley Whetstone & Company Inc. a Montreal coin dealer with a history dating back to 1928.  He can be reached at mike@carsleys.com, www.carsleys.com, or 514-289-9761

Mike Joffre – mike@carsleys.com

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