header Notes Collection

5 Dollars 1954, Canada

in Krause book Number: 77a
Years of issue: 09.09.1954 - 1961
Edition: around 620 000 000
Signatures: Deputy Governor: Mr. J.R. Beattie, Governor: Mr. James E. Coyne
Serie: 1954 Issue
Specimen of: 09.09.1954
Material: 50% high grade flax, 50% cotton
Size (mm): 152.4 х 69.85
Printer: Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, Ottawa

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

5 Dollars 1954




5 Dollars 1954


HM The Queen Elizabeth II.

This portrait of Queen Elizabeth is based on a photograph by Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. The photograph was one of many taken during a photographic session in 1951 in Clarence House, a year before Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne.

It was made for Princess Elizabeth's Tour of Canada and the United States.

Many of the portraits from the photographic session show The Queen wearing a tiara, but the particular photograph chosen by the Bank of Canada for its 1954 issue is one without the tiara. Retouched by Brigdens of Toronto, to remove the tiara, circa 1953.

The tiara was removed to distinguish the portrait from another, based on the same photo, which had recently been featured on a Canadian stamp.

Princess Elizabeth is wearing a Norman Hartnell gown. The necklace worn by The Queen in this portrait, of diamond flowers and leaves, was a wedding present from Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar and Queen Mary's Floret Earrings.

The image on the banknotes, which is based on Karsh's photograph, was engraved by George Gundersen of the British American Bank Note Company. This portrait is famous for its two varieties.

1)The first variety of this engraving incorporates a 'devil's head' in The Queen's hair.

2)The second variety of the engraving is modified to remove the offending pattern in Her Majesty's hair.

coat canadaThe Canadian coat of arms is on background.

The Arms of Canada, also known as the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada or formally as the Arms of Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada is, since 1921, the official coat of arms of the Canadian monarch and thus also of Canada. It is closely modeled after the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom with distinctive Canadian elements replacing or added to those derived from the British.

The maple leaves in the shield, blazoned "proper", were originally drawn vert (green) but were redrawn gules (red) in 1957 and a circlet of the Order of Canada was added to the arms for limited use in 1987. The shield design forms the monarch's royal standard and is also found on the Canadian Red Ensign. The Flag of the Governor General of Canada, which formerly used the shield over the Union Flag, now uses the crest of the arms on a blue field.

Denominations in numerals are centered and in top corners. In words in lower corners and centered (also on the right and left sides).


5 Dollars 1954

Engraver: C. Gordon Yorke (it was the first engraving he produced for the Bank of Canada).

Otter Falls

The view on Otter Falls.

Otter Falls, Yukon (Southern Tutchone: Nadélin) is located on the Aishihik River in the southwestern Yukon Territory of Canada (on 996 mile of Alaska highway).

Accessible via the Aishihik Road, the site of the falls has long been visited by lovers of the outdoors due to its picturesque nature, bird life (American Dipper and Harlequin Duck amongst others) and sport fishing opportunities.

Denominations in numerals are in all corners, in words on the right and left sides and at the top.


Obverse designer: Charles F. Comfort.

Reverse engraver: C. Gordon Yorke.

Planning for the banknotes began on 6 February 1952 after the death of George VI and the accession of Elizabeth II to the throne. The first design, created by the Canadian Bank Note Company, was deemed too similar in style to the 1937 Series, including the "elaborate scrollwork" decorating the edges of the banknotes. To reflect a "growing sense of Canadian nationalism", the design of the banknotes was significantly different from that of the 1937 Series, retaining the bilingual text and denomination colours using a modern 1950s style that abandoned Victorian ornamentation associated with Canada's colonial past. The banknotes were marked with English text to the left of the French text. The less ornate design and arrangement of elements was said to improve the legibility of the banknotes. The banknotes featured the same border style on the obverse and reverse.

All banknotes in the series measure 152.4 by 69.85 millimeters (6.000 by 2.750 in), which are the same length as the 1937 Series banknotes but 1⁄8 inch narrower. This change made the banknotes closer in size to the Federal Reserve Notes issued in the United States.

The new notes were introduced by Graham Towers, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, to the Parliamentary Press Gallery in June 1954, and entered circulation that September. In advertisements that ran in Canadian newspapers in September 1954, the Bank of Canada stated that design and use of two colours on the obverse were security features to deter counterfeiting.

The banknotes all featured a portrait of Elizabeth II, based on a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh, placed on the right side of the obverse, the first series to carry the portrait of Elizabeth as queen. The photograph was the same one used for the 1952 Canada 2-cent stamp, but was flipped to have Elizabeth II face left, and the diamond tiara she was wearing was removed. The final image was engraved by George Gunderson, master engraver at British American Bank Note Company (BABN, now BA International), after receiving approval from Elizabeth II.

The portrait's placement differed from earlier banknote series that had an oval-framed portrait in the centre of the banknote, which was more susceptible to wearing as it occurred at the crease point for a folded banknote. This was the first series to include the Canadian coat of arms, which appeared centrally in the background of the obverse.

The design changes were made to portray themes more typical of Canada and lead artist Charles Comfort, contracted by the Bank of Canada to "develop a more contemporary design for Canada's currency", created a rendering of the cenotaph at the National War Memorial with an engraving of pine branches by Eric Bergman, a design he preferred when the reverse of all banknotes in the series were expected to have the same design. He simplified the design and replaced the allegorical themes from earlier banknote issues with scenes of Canadian landscapes, as executives at the Bank of Canada considered the War Memorial "too emotionally loaded". The design also included the use of horizontal bands, but the printing companies preferred the more traditional enclosed border.

In 1953, the Bank of Canada announced that the designs of the 1937 Series would be replaced with images of Canadian landscapes. The images were chosen from a set of over 3,000 photographs obtained from Archives Canada, Canadian Pacific, and several news agencies. The final set of images for consideration were required to satisfy several conditions: preference for rural scenes, no well-known scenes, no large buildings, and little indication of human or economic activity. The Bank of Canada acquired all intellectual property associated with the images, with a transfer of copyright from the owner to the Bank of Canada and the owner required to destroy any outstanding copies or negatives.

Raised ink (intaglio), which could easily be felt, was used extensively on both sides of the notes in this series. Black ink was used for the text, portrait and border designs on the front; a different color (a unique one for each denomination) was used for the landscapes and border designs on the back.

The term “Devil's Head” is commonly used to describe this series. The notes caused quite a controversy because, in the engraving of the portrait, an area of the Queen's hair gave the illusion of a grinning devil. Modifications to the printing plates for all denominations were made in 1956 to exorcise the demon!