Imperial Bank $100 1917 - Contemporaneous Counterfeit

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Imperial Bank $100 1917 - Contemporaneous Counterfeit
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Imperial Bank $100 1917 - Contemporaneous Counterfeit

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This is a high quality plate printed counterfeit 1917 Imperial Bank of Canada $100 note that entered circulation in 1918 or 1919, and was later removed and stamped "counterfeit" by the Imperial Bank.  Contemporaneous counterfeits like this are highly collectible and provide collectors with an opportunity to own a high quality copy of an extremely rare note issue at a fraction of the price.  It is also an part of the history of Canada's money.   

Prior to the 1944 revision of the Bank Act, Canadian Chartered banks were allowed to issue their own banknotes in denominations of $5 and higher.  As this essentially provided the banks with a huge interest-free loan until the notes were redeemed, almost all of the chartered banks issued their own notes.  The vast majority of these notes were redeemed and destroyed before 1950, and most chartered bank notes are extremely difficult to obtain today, especially higher denomination notes.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, a few of these chartered bank notes were counterfeited in sufficient quantity and with sufficient quality and to cause alarm to the entire banking system in Canada.  Perhaps the most notorious of these notes was the Imperial Bank $100 note issue of 1917.  At this time, $100 was an enormous amount of money - the equivalent of about $2,000 today.  It could be extremely profitable to counterfeit this high denomination note if it would not be detected.  

In 1918 or 1919, counterfeiters created high quality engraved printing plates and obtained genuine bank note quality paper.  The original Imperial Bank $100 note was copied with great skill, and counterfeit notes were produced which could easily pass as genuine.  Many notes were passed to merchants and deposited into banks before the counterfeit was detected.

Once the Imperial Bank learned of the counterfeits, the notes were carefully checked and counterfeits were removed from circulation.  Several hundred notes were found, some before being passed and some after.  All of these notes received by the Imperial Bank were clearly stamped "counterfeit" and held for some time.  Eventually these notes found their way back into the hands of collectors.

Issued genuine notes of this type are extremely rare and sell today for more than $5,000 in mid grade circulated condition.  The surviving counterfeits represent an interesting and highly collectible piece of Canadian banking history, as well as an opportunity to obtain an affordable example of this scarce chartered bank note issue.    


• Imperial Bank $100 1917 - Contemporaneous Counterfeit

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