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$5 1880 Note Design
Central Vignette: Large Royal Crest, Small Toronto Crest
Additional Design Elements: Woman with Laurel / Commerce Figure with 5 (sideways)
(no issued notes known to have survived)
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. However, the vast majority of these notes were redeemed and destroyed before 1950, and most chartered bank notes are extremely difficult to obtain today, especially in uncirculated condition. Most notes prior to 1920 are exceptionally rare, often with no high grade issued notes surviving and only a few rare proofs.
The term "proof" for bank notes relates to a special type of notes rather than the grade. When most new note designs are created, a very small number of "printer's proofs" are prepared by the bank note company. These are "test" or "sample" notes used to check the quality and to send to the client (the bank) for approval. They are usually single sided without signatures or serial numbers, and are sometimes prepared in black and white to test the intaglio dies. They are either printed on thin smooth paper which can be mounted on cardstock, or printed directly on card stock. From the mid 1800s to the 1940s, the bank note companies have put away and saved a few examples of most of the notes they have printed. These surviving printer's proofs now provide a rare opportunity for a few collectors to own an original and important piece of Canadian banking history.
The Bank of Toronto, 1855 - 1954 Toronto, Province of Canada
While Toronto was an over-banked city, the rural areas were poorly served. The Millers Association of Canada West, as the bank was known before incorporation, comprised millers, wheat merchants and grain marketers from southern Ontario. They sought to establish a bank with powers to carry on a flour, grain and produce agency, an insurance agency and a banking company. The petition to establish such an institution failed initially, but a charter was finally granted on March 8, 1855, in the name of the Bank of Toronto. It faced difficulties in raising the necessary capital in its first year and did not open its doors to the public until July 8, 1856. Once in operation it completed its first year "with much pleasure" to the shareholders.
The bank was wary of real estate and directed its financing towards the staple industries. From the mid 1850s to the mid 1890s, this policy proved wise in the face of the collapse of the land boom and other national economic failures that saw the demise of some 14 banks.
The Bank of Toronto expanded into the textile and mining industries and opened new branches in other provinces. During World War I, the bank cooperated with the government in raising public loans and closed some of its branches. From 1930 to 1934, the Depression years, the bank was almost at a standstill, but recovered strongly from 1938 on, despite playing its part, as did the other banks, during World War II. Between the end of the war and the amalgamation in 1955 with the Dominion Bank, the bank expanded rapidly. The amalgamation was a "marriage of equals" and was unique in that, of the nine major banks then in operation, neither bank had ever taken over or merged with another institution. The Toronto-Dominion Bank started with an authorized capital of $30 million, with $15 million paid-up, a reserve fund of $30 million, total assets in excess of a $1 billion and 450 branches. It is now one of the largest banks in Canada, with operations across Canada and in several other countries.
• $5 1880 Bank of Toronto Chartered Banknote