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Legendary Canadian collection heading to auction

The world’s most comprehensive and complete collection of Canadian coins ever assembled – including Canada’s 1911 Silver Dollar and the finest known 1936 Dot Cent – is heading to auction (and into Canadian history) later this year.

Featured in the auction is a George V one dollar 1911 Specimen Ex. Belzberg. It is one of only two examples struck in silver. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

The late collector, George Cook, devoted more than 25 years to seeking out every major rarity issued by the Canadian government and successfully assembled one of the most significant numismatic collections in North America. In some cases, he owned the rarest of all specimens in the best condition and even possessed every example of special coins available for private ownership. Heritage Auctions will present Cook’s collection at the World’s Fair of Money in August in Chicago, Ill.

“I worked with George for over a decade helping him build his Canadian set, and we became friends,” said Cris Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage Auctions. “George was one of the most focused collectors I have met in my 25 years in numismatics. He loved coins, and he loved the challenge of finding the absolute best specimen for each denomination and date, and this will be evident once his catalog is published in July.”

Cook did not let his humble beginnings stop him from building a successful and happy life in Canada. Leaving the poverty of post-war Europe behind, he immigrated to Canada in 1951 with little money, bringing hope for a better life and a box stuffed with his only belongings. With determination, he worked across the country and successfully graduated to managing some of the largest industrial construction sites in Western Canada.

A rare 1872-H Victoria Specimen 25 cents is part of the Cook Collection coming to auction in August. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

Years later, his efforts culminated in the creation of his own successful steel fabrication company, which was highly valued across North America. Cook lived in Calgary with his wife, Margaret, and their four children. He also served his country as an honorary consul for Germany.

He was an avid collector of coins throughout his entire life, enjoying the rich history and stories behind each new discovery. Over the years, every major Canadian rarity found its way into the collection, including the extraordinarily rare 1911 Silver Dollar. Considered a “Holy Grail,” and perhaps the most storied rarity in all of Canadian numismatics, the coin is one of only two examples struck in silver. Outside of Cook’s collection, the only other 1911 Silver Dollar coin is in the permanent National Currency Collection in Ottawa.

Cook also owned the finest of just three known 1936 Dot Cents. Known the world over as one of the most famous rarities in Canadian coins, the Canadian Dot Cent was struck in 1937 prior to the creation of coinage dies for George VI. It was never released for circulation, and Cook owned one in the best condition.

Shown here is a George V 10 cents 1936 Dot Specimen. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)

Cook held both the Specimen and Business Strikes of the rare 1921 50-cent coin, known as “The King of Canadian Coins.” He also owned the Specimen strike of an 1875 quarter, a 1936 Dot 10-cent coin, and a 1916-C Sovereign coin – each of which is simply unheard of in a single, private collection.

Heritage Auctions is placing highlights of Cook’s collection on a nationwide tour beginning April 23-27 at the Central States Numismatic Society Show in Chicago. Highlights then go on display June 6-8 during The Long Beach [Calif.] Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Show.

Cook’s main collection will cross the auction block at a special session held during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Chicago and on HA.com. An additional online auction takes place in September on HA.com.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.


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