Rare Hudson’s Bay Company Cheque

Ultimately, numismatics is history and it’s difficult to get much more historic than lot 1111 in the Geoffrey Bell Auctions Ltd. Toronto Coin Expo 2017 Fall Sale, a rare Hudson’s Bay Company cheque.  With this piece you link the early beginnings of Canada as we know it today through a numismatic document connected to the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company.

hbc cheque

It is not common to see a cheque over 327 years old. It is certainly not common to see a cheque connected to the Hudson’s Bay Company of that age. And to think it has a Canadian connection. Geoffrey Bell Auctions is proud to feature such a document. This note (cheque) is dated 1690 and was a note of one of the Company’s bankers, Stephen Evans (Evance). He was elected a Governor of the HBC in 1692.

The note is endorsed by its guarantors, all shareholders in the HBC. The signatories are E. Dering, Dep. Gov, HBC, Samuel Clarke, Dep Gov, elected in 1692 to succeed Sir Edward Dering, A.Hayward?, Samuel Foote, Samuel Cudworth, member of the Committee, HBC, Thomas Chambers, and Edward West.

It is interesting that Chambers led a movement against the Committee, particularly the Deputy Governor Dering. In June 1690, the HBC decided to sell off some of its fur inventory at what Chambers believed to be advantageous prices to a Thomas Glover. Chambers offered 200 pounds more but was refused by the Committee. Chambers accused the Committee and Dering of improper handling of the sale, but his accusation was rejected. Chambers was then deprived of his Committee member payments that prevented sale of his stock. In 1692, Chambers recovered control of his stock, but his relationship with the Company ended. Edward West was the HBC’s warehouse keeper who soon was to be promoted to Committee man.

This note (cheque) is payable to William Potter, the Company’s accountant. In 1690, he took over the position of Company’s Secretary, thus holding down two positions. Potter was to earn 100 pounds a year as opposed to the 50 pounds that he and the ex Secretary used to make. This note accounts for his first half year’s pay. In June 1690, Potter was charged with checking over the Act of 1690, confirming the Company charter.

The only previous known Hudson’s Bay Company cheque similar to this specimen was a note issued to a mariner, again in 1690. The Bank of Canada purchased that specimen in 2003 for several thousand dollars. This is the ultimate opportunity to purchase such a historical, numismatic document.  Accompanying this exceptional specimen is a package of historical background notes.

The Toronto Coin Expo 2017 Fall Sale is approaching quickly, so mark your calendars for September 28th and 29th, whether you’re attending in person or online.  And be sure to follow the action on Facebook and Twitter.

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