Rare Summerside Bank note selling for $54,000

Colin MacLean colin.maclean@tc.tc
Published on July 24, 2014

MONCTON, N.B. – A little piece of Summerside history is up for sale on eBay.com.

The Coin Cabinet, of Moncton, is selling a $5 bank note, issued by The Summerside Bank of Prince Edward Island in 1872.

It could be yours for a cool $54,000.

Its owner, Brian Bell estimates it is one of, if not the most valuable pieces of P.E.I. money there is. As far as he’s aware it is completely unique.

“This is a piece of P.E.I. history here. This is one of the finest Prince Edward Island pieces to really own,” said Bell.

In comparison, The Coin Cabinet sold one of the P.E.I.’s fabled “holey dollars,” of which there are less than 100 in existence, a couple of years ago for between $5,000 and $6,000.  Holey dollars were created in 1813, when the province took a bunch of Spanish American coins and punched holes in them, creating two coins in one.

The second most expensive Prince Edward Island currency listed on eBay as of Thursday is a 1877 $2 bill from the Merchant’s Bank of Prince Edward Island for $12,000.

Paul Berry, chief curator of the Bank of Canada’s museum, said that small merchant bank notes, especially from Atlantic Canada, are highly sought after by collectors.

This is mostly to due with their rarity, said Berry, but also for their aesthetics.

“Let’s face it, the designs are beautiful. If you look at some of them – the design on the $5 (Bank of Summerside) it’s really quite attractive,” he said.

“They’re a wonderful example of mid-19th century bank note art, they reflect the local economy at the time and they’re a nice testament to that period in Canadian history.”

Berry also said he was aware of Bell’s eBay sale of the $5 note and acknowledged that it appeared to indeed be a rarity.

Bell said his father purchased the bill from Danny Cameron, a collector of Atlantic Canadian money and MLA from Fredericton, N.B. years ago.

Some estimates are that only about $43 of Summerside Bank money still exists, about $20 of which is in the Bank of Canada’s national currency collection, in Ottawa.

Bell said that at one time his father owned $11 of the notes.

When his dad finally decided to sell that part of his collection in the fall of 2012, it was purchased at auction in Toronto for $54,000.

That purchaser then turned around and sold it at auction again earlier this year.

Bell took the notion to buy back a part of his dad’s collection.

“I just wanted to buy one back, just – I don’t know, there was something pulling at me to buy it back really. I wanted to bring it back east,” he said.

He added that while he’s happy to have the bill back in his store, he’s not personally a collector so it is for sale.

The market is strong for this kind of thing, he said, as people are taking advantage of low interest rates to buy into collectables like art and rarities.

“So there’s all kinds of money to spend, it’s just a question of what they’re going to buy,” he said.

Anyone who’d like to take a look at the bank note can do so next time they’re in Moncton The Coin Cabinet is located at 1141 Main Street. Anyone who would like to look at the auction page itself can go online to: http://ow.ly/zyc20.

The Summerside Bank was established in 1866 by various local businessmen and did well for several decades. It was bought out by the Bank of New Brunswick in 1901, which was later bought by the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Its earlier bills were issued in pounds shilling, but later changed to dollars.

Its first office was near the corner of Central and Water Streets at the Clifton Hotel, which later burned down.