2015 Canadian Flag – 25-cent Circulation Coin Pack

The Royal Canadian Mint has made their 2015 Canadian Flag 25 cent circulation coin pack available to the public at face value with free shipping for a pack of ten coins.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag and the coin design features 50 children representing each year in addition to the future.  The quarter was designed by Bonnie Ross, an artist from Nova Scotia.

2015Flagpack

This offer may not last long!

Green River Whiskey Token

I knew I had to prepare to write about this handsome token, featuring a subject matter of such great economic, political, and social importance it has shaped, enhanced and even ruined lives throughout the ages. So, I braved one of the many blizzards of the winter of 2015 and headed into the cruel winds that pelted me with stinging snow, downhill (both ways) to the nearest NBLC to purchase a bottle of Jack Daniels – just the cheap stuff, not the mouth watering, limited edition Sinatra Select blend available only this year – and I sat to ponder why our beloved leader, our President, would thrust this particular piece upon me to write about, forcing me to imbibe the bitter spirits that can only be the life-work of the devil himself.

Green River Whiskey Token

Made of brass measuring 32mm diameter, the piece has the words “Green River Whiskey” above the figure of a black man holding an old nag by the reins and the words “The whiskey without regrets” below on the obverse.

The reverse features a horseshoe, four-leaf clover and a wishbone with “Green River” across them and the statement “It’s lucky to drink whiskey” around the perimeter.

Green River Whiskey was the product of John McCulloch of Owensboro, Kentucky, which he started distilling in 1885 and by the turn of the century his blends were winning awards internationally.

I’ve also seen a watch fob with the same obverse artwork, but with the words “She was bread in old Kentucky.” In addition to the slogans above, the following gem was used prominently by the brand: “The whiskey without a headache.”

whiskeygr

Judging by the variances available, it was a mass-produced item over a number of years in the 1930s, with some dating it specifically to 1936. There were as many as 20 different dies in use over this time, with only subtle differences in the design.

Most texts refer to this as a token, but without any nominal value, it seems more of an advertising medal. Either way it’s a fascinating piece of American history.

2015 Sir John A. Macdonald Coin Pack

To celebrate Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday the Royal Canadian Mint is striking a special commemorative toonie to be released on January 11, 2015.  Macdonald was Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Sir John A Macdonald 2015 toonie

The coin’s reverse features Macdonald’s name and image imposed over a map of Canada with the initials of the artist, GG for Glen Green.  Green has also designed five of the 2010 Canadian Olympic 25 cent pieces.  The obverse features the familiar image of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Susanna Blunt.

A five pack is available at face value with free shipping from the Royal Canadian Mint for a limited time, but there is a limit of one pack per household which is different than the three packs they’ve allowed for other commemorative issues.

Wait for Me, Daddy Commemorative Toonie Pack

The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a commemorative five toonie pack based on the Wait for Me, Daddy historical photograph.  The photograph was taken October 1st, 1940 in New Westminster, BC by photographer Claude Dettloff, featuring a father heading off to war, leaving his family at home.

Wait for Me, Daddy

You can order your five-pack on the mint’s website while supplies last at face value with free shipping.  There is a limit of three packs per household.

Worthless Canadian Bills

Back in the March issue of Almost Circulated (Volume 1, issue 2) I wrote about the Star Coin Encyclopedia Jim loaned me, posting a photo from the book of a page marked, “Worthless Canadian Bills” and I wondered, “how many had been discarded because of this information.”

worthlessface

worthlessback
Well, I found an auction on eBay which ended August 6, 2014 which offered an 1876 $10 note from The Consolidated Bank of Canada in Montreal with the words “worthless” boldly written across the front and back in red and blue respectively. Seeing the bill as such, I consulted the photograph from the Star Coin Encyclopedia and sure enough, this particular bank is mentioned as issuing worthless notes. The Consolidated Bank of Canada was formed in 1876 with the merger of City Bank and the Royal Canadian Bank, but it failed in 1880. Did someone mark the bill with these words because of that information? I’m far from an expert in paper money, but I’m not aware of any other reason for such a designation. Despite the graffiti, the note sold for $86.88, so it’s not exactly worthless.

Star Rare Coin Worthless

 

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Royal Canadian Mint Coin Contest

The Royal Canadian Mint his holding a coin contest from August 1-17th, 2014. All you have to do is click the link and give them your email address and language preference. Whether you collect mint products or not, it’s an easy, free contest with a chance to win something for free – and that sounds like the right price to me!

RCMcontest

 

Escalated Counterfeiting – A True Life Crime Story

*reprinted from the June 2014 edition of the Saint John Coin Club’s newsletter, Almost Circulated

This is a story, referred to me by Tom, about an early attempt to get rich counterfeiting the Canadian 50 cent piece by a criminal whose luck, execution and planning was to go from bad to worse very quickly.

Herbert McAuliffe showed promise growing up in North Bay, Ontario, doing well in school and showing some mechanical aptitude and in 1939 he enlisted in the army where he rose quickly to the rank of sergeant before, according to some accounts, being given a dishonourable discharge for stealing money from fellow soldiers. According to Max Haines’ book, Murder Most Foul, McAuliffe didn’t stop his thieving ways there – he walked away with nine guns, including a Thompson submachine gun.

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He proceeded to set up shop in Windsor, Ontario in a rented garage, purchasing the equipment he needed to start his own personal mint – books, a lathe, punch presses and a hydraulic press. He funded this part of his operation by holding up service stations and grocery stores. It took him years, but his finished product, which he struck on his own alloy that he would plate in silver, was very good and he was able to pass the coins without suspicion.

Herbert’s biggest problem in what sounds like a successful counterfeiting business was that he was only pocketing two cents per coin. He would have to pass an awful lot of half dollars to get rich at that ratio, so he devised a plan to streamline his operation with modern equipment, which would bolster his bottom line.

The Imperial Bank

The Imperial Bank, Langton ON

 

How was he going to get the capital for such an investment? Rob a bank, of course. He decided a branch of the Imperial Bank in the tiny community of Langton, Ontario, almost a three-hour drive from Windsor today, was the best option. He stole a black (were there any other colours?) 1949 Meteor in Windsor on June 17th, 1950 and arrived in Langton on the first day of summer to consummate his plan.

Here, it would seem, McAuliffe’s efforts would turn into a comedy of errors and tragedy. The robbery was anything but smooth. After announcing his intentions to the staff, the alarm was sounded attracting attention and bringing witnesses. The teller dropped the bag for the loot, delaying valuable getaway time. Herbert tried putting the staff and witnesses in the bank vault, but forgot to lock the door upon leaving. Then, exiting the bank in front of the crowd gathering because of the bells, the loot bag broke. When he finally gathered the money, over $22,000, and reached his car he knew he had to get out of Langton quickly.

Two of the men from the vault gave chase, armed with a .22 calibre rifle and they were able to track him down and exchange gunfire with McAuliffe, causing him to crash his car. Unfortunately for the men, Herbert emptied his machinegun into their vehicle, and then finished them off with a pistol.

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From the documentary Murder Remembered – Norfolk County 1950, the counterfeit is on the left.

 

Herbie had now gone from the crime of counterfeiting to armed robbery to murder excruciatingly quickly. Now, on foot, there was a posse of up to 500 armed locals and police looking for him. After three day he was found by a resident, “in an extreme state of exhaustion, clothes torn, badly bruised and minus a shirt of any kind,” and held until police arrived.

Upon learning the identity of the murderer, police obtained a search warrant and searched McAuliffe’s rented garage, finding the counterfeiting equipment and 6,000 unfinished 50-cent coins that still needed silver plating.

Herbert was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. On December 18th, 1950, just before midnight, he was brought to the county jail gallows where his execution was botched, causing him to strangle for more than fifteen minutes until he died.

In addition to Haines’ book, there is a National Film Board documentary called Murder Remembered – Norfolk County 1950 telling much of the story surrounding these events, what may be the only example of someone successfully counterfeiting the Canadian 50-cent coin. <>

March 2014 Meeting

The March meeting of the Saint John Coin Club will take place Tuesday the 18th at 7pm sharp.  Note that the meetings are now being held at the Howard Johnson Fort Howe Hotel  on Portland Street, which features plenty of free parking.  Following club business there will be a slide presentation, an auction and  refreshments – what more could you ask for?!  Hope to see you there.

Howard Johnson Fort Howe