By Michael Joffre – mtltimes.ca
A lot of customers ask us how to tell the difference between the regular 1954 series notes, and the famous “devil’s face” ones.
In 1952 George VI passed away. When Elizabeth became Queen, it was decided to issue a new series of notes from $1 to $1,000 ($1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $1,000). In the previous issue of her father, the portraits were placed in the center, and were therefore worn quickly when people folded notes in half, so it was decided to put her portrait on the right hand side.
The original portrait of the queen for the notes was copied from an official photograph. Unfortunately, the curls in the right hand side of her head seem to appear as two eyes, a hooked nose, and a mouth. This is popularly called the “devil’s face” variety. When this was discovered by the general public many urban myths were created, including one that the picture was altered by an IRA sympathizer. This of course is not true.
In 1956 most denominations were modified with a new similar portrait, but with changes in the hair. So almost all “devils face” notes were only produced for a couple of years, and most were not saved until they had been used. This accounts for their relative scarcity, and higher value in new condition.
It is important to understand that until recently the dates on our paper money were never changed until a new type of note was issued. Therefore, the issue of Queen Elizabeth’s father George VI were all dated 1937, but issued from 1937 to 1953. Likewise, the 1954 “series” was all dated 1954, but issued from 1954 until the various notes were changed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Almost all 1954 dated notes are later modified types, and not devils face.
So, how can we tell the difference? The first and easiest way is to look at the two signatures on the bottom of the notes. The devil’s face notes are all signed either “Coyne Towers” (all Coyne Towers notes are Devils Face), and “Beattie Coyne” (not every one of this signature combination are DF). Any other signature variety is NOT a devils face note. Of course the quick way is to know what the hair looks like. Having a picture, or better yet, another note to compare with is best.
How much are these interesting devil’s face notes worth? As always with collectables the condition will make the price. Used bills are usually in the $10 to $50 range depending on variety, denomination and condition. The very best quality examples sell in the hundreds of dollars and more…and of course if you have any for sale we would love to hear from you!
Michael Joffre is President of Carsley Whetstone & Company Inc. Since 1928 Carsleys has been buying and selling rare coins and related collectables. They are always interested in purchasing quality collections of older coins. For more information please visit their website www.carsleys.com or call 514-289-9761