Why a 1935 Canadian Banknote Is Set to Sell for Upwards of $250K

Valued at a quarter million dollars, the bill will star in an upcoming auction of rare money from around the world.

Green banknote preserved behind glass case
A Canadian banknote is estimated to sell for more than 500 times its original value. Courtesy Heritage Auctions

The $500 Canadian banknote may no longer be accepted as cash in that country, but it still has value—more than it ever did in circulation, in fact.

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Originally issued by the Bank of Canada when the nation’s central bank was first established in 1935, a nearly 90-year-old bill is now expected to sell for more than a quarter million dollars next month when it stars in a sale held by Heritage Auctions, a Dallas-based auction house. It is one of several now-defunct notes, including the $1, $2, $25 and $1,000 bill, which have become collectors’ items since the Bank of Canada removed their legal tender status in 2021.

Of these denominations, the $500 note is the rarest due to its print run of 20,900 in English and 5,000 in French, with only twelve examples currently known to be in private hands. “Any issued example of the $500 is a prize, as only a few are known to exist in either language,” said Dustin Johnston, vice president of currency at Heritage Auctions, in a statement.

The bill, which will lead Heritage’s World Paper Money Auction on March 7 and March 8 with an estimate of more than $250,000, isn’t the only lot no longer in circulation. The auction house is also offering up a 1/4 Dinar note from the government of Iraq, an example of the very first series of banknotes issued in the early 1930s.  The series was cut short after King Faisal I, pictured on the note’s front, died of a heart attack in 1933.

Orange and yellow banknote preserved in glass case
A Turks & Caicos banknote is expected to sell for upwards of $20,000. Courtesy Heritage Auctions

The auction brings together rare money from around the world

Meanwhile, a 1 pound note from Turks & Caicos, a small tropical colony that issued banknotes only between 1903 and 1930, is expected to sell for more than $20,000. Turks & Caicos currency is rare due to the small print runs made in proportion to its population, which only measured at around 5,000 in the early 1900s.

Other offerings include banknotes that refer to historical events, such as a Kiau Chau dollar issued by the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank in 1907. Printed as local currency in both the German colony of Kiautschou and the Chinese province of Shantung, the bank ceased operations in China (and stopped issuing the currency) after World War I.

Heritage’s sale also includes a 10 Kopek note from the early to mid-19th century that is now valued at $15,000. The bill was one of many issued by the Russian-American company, which was chartered by Emperor Paul I of Russia in 1799 and focused on expansion into the eastern Pacific region. To facilitate commerce around trading posts in areas like Alaska, California, Mexico and Hawaii, the chartered company printed currency notes on walrus skin parchment.

With nearly 560 lots, the upcoming auction “includes notes from an enormous array of countries around the world,” according to Johnson. “This is one of the broadest, not to mention finest, offerings of world banknotes in recent years,” he said.

Why a 1935 Canadian Banknote Is Set to Sell for Upwards of $250K