The 1936 “dot cent” penny is famous in coin-collecting circles as one of only three such specimens known to have been produced that year by the Royal Canadian Mint. They are distinguished from the millions of other 1936 pennies minted in the final year of King George V’s reign by the miniscule dot placed below the date on the “tails” side of the coin.
Texas-based Heritage Auctions announced last month that the “legendary Pittman-Krause” dot penny — named for two notable collectors who had owned it previously — would be offered at this week’s annual international coin sale in Chicago.
And on Thursday, an unidentified Canadian collector purchased the penny for close to pre-sale estimate — about $250,000, including a $25,000 buyer’s fee paid to the auction house, a Heritage spokesman told Postmedia News.
It was the highest-priced item among the thousands of coins sold, the spokesman added.
The Canadian dot-cent coins were prepared after George V’s death as prototypes for a potential posthumous production run. Canadian coin-makers were forced to scramble that year because an expected minting of coins bearing the portrait of George V’s immediate successor — his eldest son Edward VIII — was abruptly scuttled when he abdicated in December 1936.
Mint officials didn’t have a proper portrait prepared for the next in line to the throne, George VI, so they feared a gap in production. The contingency plan to avoid a shortage of pennies and other coinage, devised in late 1936 or early 1937, was to re-use the George V templates from 1936 but add the barely visible dot directly below the date to subtly identify the new batch.
Some experts believe that the potential coin shortage never materialized, so that just three “dot cent” penny samples were produced, along with limited numbers of similarly marked dimes and quarters. Others suspect thousands of the specially marked pennies were actually minted but later melted down for the first run of George VI one-cent pieces, dated 1937.
Two of the three documented 1936 “dot cent” specimens wound up in the hands of retired Royal Canadian Mint employee Maurice LaFortune of Ottawa. And by the early 1960s, that pair — as well as the third one, once owned by Ottawa coin collector Tom Roberts, a close friend of a senior mint official — had been acquired by the legendary Rochester, N.Y., coin collector John Jay Pittman.
“I remember meeting Mr. Pittman and taking him to our basement room where my father had his coin collection in several cabinets,” Ottawa resident Barbara Edwards told Postmedia News recently about the first of two trips Pittman made to Ottawa in 1951 and 1952 in a bid to acquire Roberts’ dot-cent penny.
Roberts died in 1951 and the following year his widow — Ms. Edwards’ mother — sold Mr. Pittman the dot-cent penny, along with a dotted dime and quarter and the rest of her late husband’s coin collection, for $2,000.
Before his death in 1996, Mr. Pittman had assembled a collection of numismatic rarities worth $30-million, with the three dotted pennies from Canada among his most prized possessions.
One was sold in 1999 for $115,000. Another was auctioned for $230,000 in 2003 and then resold in 2010 for US$402,500.
The third of the three — and the one sold in Chicago on Thursday — was stolen from Pittman’s home in 1964.
Later, the New York collector received an envelope containing several of the stolen coins, including the dotted 1936 penny.
That penny was sold in 1997, the year after Mr. Pittman’s death, for $121,000. It sold again in 2004 for $207,000.
General discussions about canadian coins.
1 post • Page 1 of 1