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Dominion of Canada $2 Notes

The first Dominion of Canada $2 notes were dated July 1st, 1870, but were not put into circulation for at least another year. At this point in time, Dominion of Canada banknotes were made payable at either Montreal, Toronto, St. John, Halifax or Victoria. These domiciles are incorporated into the lathework on the reverse of the notes.

The 1878 series of $2 was heavily counterfeited, and to this day, the counterfeits outnumber the genuine notes of this series. One can often tell a counterfeit note from a genuine note because the quality of the engraving on the fake is significantly inferior to that of a genuine note.

The Toronto and Montreal varieties are by far the most common, with the Victoria variety being so scarce that none are known to have survived. There were no Victoria notes from the 1878 series. The practice of domiciling notes continued until 1882, when the $4 notes were simply dated at Ottawa.

Presumably because of the extensive counterfeiting of the 1878 $2 notes, a new series was issued in 1887 in an attempt to stymie the counterfeiters. Approximately 4,600,000 1887 $2 notes were printed and issued.

In 1897, the Canadian government transferred its banknote printing business from the British American Bank Note Co. to the American Bank Note Co. This requried that all denominations be redesigned, despite sufficient stocks of higher-denomination notes that would last for several years. The 1897 $2 notes feature Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. He reigned until his death in 1910. The note pictured at the top of this page is one of the scarcer red-brown reverse varieties. The colour of the back design was initially printed in a red-brown tint (right, top) and then later changed to a dark brown (right, bottom) for the remainder of the series. The red-brown variety is quite rare and expensive.


The 1897 "Prince of Wales" $2 notes were finally replaced in 1914. This time, the note features portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The Duke, born Prince Arthur, was the third and favourite son of Queen Victoria. He came to Canada as a member of the Red River expedition of 1870, and Prince Arthur's Landing (later Port Arthur, and now part of Thunder Bay) was named in his honour. The Duke was Governor General of Canada from 1911 to 1916.

The 1923 $2 note featured the Prince of Wales, who reigned briefly in 1936 as King Edward VIII. This issue is almost identical in design to the matching 1923 $1 notes. Controversy arose because of the portrait featured on this note. In 1924, the photographer who took the picture from which the engraving was made threatened to sue for infringement of copyright. This was an oversight on the part of the Canadian Bank Note Co., and an amicable settlement was sought. The reverse features the Coat of Arms of the Dominion of Canada. These were the last $2 notes issued before the Bank of Canada was established in 1935 and became the sole note-issuing authority in Canada.

Contributors: eyevet (Dark brown reverse image)
Anonymous (Remainder)

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