You can’t really think about those grand, old-time banks without picturing the architecture of their buildings; we see it on their notes, bills of exchange, sometimes on tokens, and in old pictures and postcards and they’re usually marvellous, formidable structures. The Covered Bridge Collection, offered through Geoffrey Bell Auctions Ltd., featured some amazing material including a note featuring an iconic building from our home province of New Brunswick.
The Bank of New Brunswick was formed in 1820 in Saint John and was the first bank to operate under a charter in Canada. During the rebuilding phase after the Great Saint John Fire in 1877, which saw two thirds of the city destroyed, the bank built an important symbol for the city with its new headquarters on Prince William Street.
Completed in 1879, the Bank of New Brunswick building was designed by renowned Boston architect, Henry F. Starbuck in the Corinthian Classical Style using the best native freestone. This new home was innovative, stately, and pretty nice to look at, inspiring a confidence the bank and the city needed.
At our last Toronto Coin Expo Spring Sale, a beautiful Bank of New Brunswick $10, 1892 featuring the still-young structure on the back and this note, likely the finest available of its type, realized $25,000 amidst some spirited bidding.
Of course we’ve had other notes from this bank, we are conveniently located in its backyard, so to speak, and a Bank of New Brunswick $5, 1904, with only six on the registry not in institutional hands, hammering at $2,200 at our Toronto Coin Expo 2016 Fall Sale comes to mind. This note also shows the pride in their building with its vignette on the back.
The Bank of New Brunswick merged with the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1913 and the building was used by this new owner until 1977 when they moved their branch to the more-convenient King Street location. Once a proud aspect of the city, the has building housed nightclubs before being placed for sale in 2008. It was sold this past October to a pair of Halifax investors who hope to return it to a bit if its former glory.