By Gary Miller
The most important collection of Canadian historical medals that have been offered for sale in my lifetime is coming up for auction at the end of April in Toronto! A bold statement indeed, but it is true. The Michael Joffre collection of Canadian historical medals will be offered on April 28 by Geoffrey Bell Auctions of Moncton, New Brunswick in conjunction with the Toronto Coin Expo to be held at the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge street just above Bloor from April 28-30.
The catalog is currently available at www.gbellauctions.com and it is very impressive.
I have known Michael Joffre for many years as a noted coin dealer from Montreal, owner of Carsley Whetstone, and also as an avid collector of Canadian medals. My interest in medals is well known to our readers and Michael and I have competed at auction for items in the past. I always knew that he must have a very impressive collection but the extent of it, by rarity, quality and quantity, far exceeds my expectations. The catalog was written by my friend and colleague, Jacob Lipson, of Ottawa, who did an outstanding job of writing the descriptions for this amazing group of medals. He wrote, what I consider to be, the best catalog of Canadian medals that I have seen in my lifetime. Michael collected the medals listed in the 1888 work, called “The Canadian Coin Cabinet “ by Joseph Leroux. Leroux updated it in 1897 and it has been reprinted several times but there has been no serious work done on the subject in over 100 years. We have talked many times over the years about coming up with some sort of price guide for Leroux medals but it always proved to be a daunting task. This upcoming auction catalog, which contains almost 400 lots, is laid out in the order of Leroux’s original numbering system, and it has mostly individual items, with excellent photos, which will make it a valuable price guide for many years to come and will certainly be beneficial to medal collectors everywhere.
The medals in Michael’s collection are so impressive and rare, much rarer than the most important Canadian decimal coins, that I am sure that they will bring spirited bidding.
I chose to highlight one particular medal for its beauty, rarity and historic importance and also because it is one of my favourites. Lot 62 is Leroux 860, known as “Montreal Taken 1760” It is part of a series of medals that commemorate British victories in Canada during the “Seven Years War” and a few are represented here. The obverse of this medal shows a male “river god” representing the St. Lawrence river, reclining with a beaver approaching. The legend proclaims, “THE CONQUEST OF CANADA COMPLEATED.” The reverse features a female figure seated against a tree with a tomahawk behind the arms of France. Examples exist in silver and bronze and both are rare. This beautiful silver example is in remarkable condition with, as Jacob so aptly describes as “Naturally toned violet-grey surfaces exhibit vivid rainbow patina around the devices”
This medal very seldom comes to the market and the estimate of $15,000 is certainly valid.
If you have an interest in Canadian historical medals, I would highly recommend that you contact Geoffrey Bell Auctions and request a catalog. I look forward to getting back to shows and seeing people face to face again.
Stay safe and be well.