Question: I have a 1954 Canadian $1 bill in almost uncirculated condition. This bill is called a Canadian "devil's face note." An Irish nationalist was suspected of cleverly etching Satan's image amid Queen Elizabeth's curls on the entire issue of 1954. In fact, the devil's face is clearly visible in Queen Elizabeth's hair. Could you please advise the value of this bill?--J.A.D.
Answer: Some people find the devil everywhere, even etched in the queen's hair. I suppose that's how legends are hatched.
Actually, after the 1954 Canadian notes appeared in circulation, it was noticed that certain highlighted portions of the queen's hair created the illusion of a devil's face peering out from behind her ear. Frankly, I've had a devil of a time deciphering the apparition, but the image created such a stir that the bill was modified, thereby creating two varieties.
The so-called Devil's Face variety was not an error in the numismatic sense. And it wasn't a prank or plot by the Irish Republican Army or some other revolutionary group. The illusion was simply the result of copying the original photograph. It's just a curiosity.
But the controversy has made these bills more valuable than those with the modified portrait. Your 1954 Canadian $1 bill, for example, catalogues for between $7.50 in extra fine condition and $17.50 uncirculated, depending upon signature combinations. There are two possible sets of signatures on your bill: Coyne-Towers and Beattie-Coyne. The Coyne-Towers signatures carry a higher premium than the Beattie-Coyne. If your bill's signature combination is Beattie-Coyne, the worth is only $7.50 as compared to $10 for the Coyne-Towers.
That's what makes numismatics so diabolical.
Today, Friday, Saturday and Sunday--Four hundred and twenty dealers will occupy booths at the Ninth Annual Long Beach Numismatic & Philatelic Summer Exposition at the Long Beach Convention Center. Highlights of the show include a China Mint display booth, the French paper money collection of Serge Zaidman, a coin booth and forum for juniors, Civil War Token Society and Early American Coppers meetings, two auctions and a silver dollar forum. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. For information, telephone (213) 436-3636.
Sunday-Wednesday--The Edwards Metcalf and Buddy Ebsen Collections consisting of more than 7,400 ancient and foreign coins will be sold by Superior Galleries in four sessions. Each session begins at 6:30 p.m. at Superior, 9478 Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. For information, call (213) 203-9855.
Australia is joining the expanding gold bullion coin market with the West Coast introduction today of the Australian Nugget.
Nuggets come in 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth-ounce sizes with face values of $100, $50, $25 and $15, respectively. They'll be competing with the United States Eagles, Chinese Pandas, South African krugerrands, Canadian Maple Leafs and myriad other bullion gold coins.
The Australian Nugget actually features a nugget in the reverse design. The coin is also frosted, producing a cameo effect. The obverse features Queen Elizabeth II.
Four major distributors are handling the Nugget in the United States, including A-Mark Precious Metals, 9696 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Most bullion coins are sold through retail coin store outlets.
More than 1,500 coins are in the Estate of Corrado Romano auction June 16-18 at the Omni Park Central Hotel in New York. The auction, conducted by Stack's, will feature the second known specimen of the silver 1776 Continental Dollar. Other highlights include a rare 1913 Type I Buffalo nickel; a rare 1794 half dime; a rare 1858 gem proof $1, and a rare 1879 flowing hair Stella ($4 proof gold piece). Catalogues are $10 from Stack's, 123 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019; telephone (212) 582-2580.
Don Alpert cannot answer mail personally but will respond to numismatic questions of general interest in this column. Do not telephone. Write to Your Coins, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.