Canadian Paper Money – The 1937 Series

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One of the most common questions we get asked is if a 1937 $1 bill is valuable. So I thought it might be a good idea to discuss this series, especially given that the new movie about George VI is so popular.

The 1937 series is an important one in Canadian bill collecting. It is indeed the very first bilingual notes produced. This replaced the idea in 1935 of having separate English and French notes (and of course before that only English notes). For the notes that the general public would have used (the 1 to 50`s) the same portrait was used (king George VI), this differs from the past when a different portrait was used on virtually every bill. For the first time important Canadians John A. Macdonald, and Wilfred Laurier were featured on the 100, and 1,000 notes. This is another big change since before that only British monarchs and their families adorned our notes. Indeed this series reflects our coming of age as a nation.

One of the most subtle but important changes were the way the serial numbers were constructed. Instead of just a prefix letter, the serial number now has a prefix the looks like a fraction of one prefix letter over another. This allowed more notes to be produced without making the serial number more than 7 digits (ten million notes possible)…with prefixes over 700,000,000 million one dollar notes were printed…and still a seven digit serial number was used. This advance also benefits collectors, as now many search out the prefixes that were printed in smaller amounts.

Like the 1935 series stunning allegories appear on the back sides. The artwork is true stunning. Symbols of industry and progress are featured (yes, I guess radio was considered progress at the time!).

Since these came out only 2 years after the 1935 series…and the 1935 series was being withdrawn as these were produced, it easily explains why the 1937 series is much more common the the 1935 notes.

For collectors here are some basic facts to help you in your collecting quest. The notes are available in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, & 1,000 dollar denominations. The 1, 10, and 20 seem to be the most common. The notes were issued with the same design until 1954…roughly 17 years…so a lot were produced. There are 3 main signature varieties. Osborne-Towers is the scarcest as it was issued first, and very few were saved. All Osborne notes in nice condition are scarce today, and have value. Gordon-Towers, and Coyne-Towers are the most commonly encountered signators.

It is also important to consider that in 1937 most bills from $5 and up were issued by private banks, and so after WWII when this practice ended, the Bank of Canada needed to produce a lot of bills to make up for the difference being withdrawn. Another consideration is that Canada’s economy really took off after WWII and so the money supply (printed money in this case) expanded rapidly. This is why it is so easy to find 1937 notes …many were produced….and many were saved.

As with all collecting condition is a major determinant of value. Although most of the notes in this series are very common and only sell for a modest premium over face value in used condition, the same notes in perfect brand new (never folded!) state are scarcer and will sell for much more.

Back to the question of the $1 1937 bill…if it is the more common Gordon-Towers, or Coyne-Towers variety…and it is in used condition (as most are)…it is likely worth between $3 and $10.

Michael Joffre is owner of Carsley Whetstone & Company Inc. a firm that buys and sells rare coins and related collectables. He is always interested in buying older coin collections. CWC also carries a full line of books and collecting supplies, available in stock in their retail store. Michael can be reached at 514-289-9761, or at sales@carsleys.com. For more information please visit www.carsleys.com

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