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Thursday, 3 May 2012

66) Coins of Canada; Minted by the Royal Canadian Mint:

A bust of Queen Elizabeth II appears on the obverse face of all Canadian coins. The Canadian dollar is divided into 100 cents like the American dollar. The coin scans for this post have been contributed by Mr. R.N. Lalingkar (10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent) and Dennis Ksing (2 dollar - "Boreal Forest" coin, 1 dollar "loonie", 25 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent) and Jayant Biswas (10 cent coin).

The two-dollar coin is the highest denomination coin. It is nicknamed the “doubloonie or two loons” or toonie” (a distorted version for the term “two loonies” meaning “having a value of two dollars” and rhyming with the word “Loonie” nickname for the one dollar coin, although it does not depict the “Loon” on its reverse, instead it has a polar bear).

 As this coin traditionally depicts a Polar Bear on the reverse, after a nation-wide contest in 2006, the polar bear was named “Churchill” after the Manitoba city, where these bears are found in large numbers, which was also done to highlight attention on these bears which are in danger of losing their habitat due to global warming. 

The $2 coin has a silver-coloured outer rim and a gold coloured centre and was introduced in 1996 as a cost-saving measure, as the two-dollar note was withdrawn with its introduction.

The specifications of the coin are diameter 28 mm, thickness 1.8mm, weight 7.3 gms. The outer ring is 99% steel, centre: 92% copper, aluminium 6% nickel 2%. Its edge is intermittently milled/smooth.

A new $2 coin was issued when Nunavut became Canada’s newest territory in 1999. This coin is nicknamed the “Noonie” or “Vootie” (for Nunavut – pronounced as “Noon – a – Voot”).

The one dollar coin is nicknamed the “loonie”, because it traditionally depicts the “Loon” (Gavia stellata or the red throated loon) or (Gavia Arctica or the black-throated loon).

An image of the obverse of a one-dollar coin issued in 2006:

Reverse of a one-dollar coin issued in 2006.

The specifications of this coin are diameter 26.5 mm (11-sided or Hendecagonal), thickness 1.75mm weight 7 gms, composition:Nickel 91.5%,bronze 8.5%, Copper 88%, tin 12%, Edge plain.
Silver one- Dollar Coin: In 1935, Canada issued a silver dollar coin to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reign of King George V (one year before he passed away). The obverse shows a portrait of the King with a Latin inscription. The reverse shows a native aboriginal and a Voyageur paddling a birch bark canoe. (With a good loupe one can make out an “HB” engraving on the bundle of cargo in the canoe standing for “Hudson’s Bay Company”. These silver dollars were issued each year until the “loonie” was introduced in 1987. 

These silver dollars are now found mostly in Numismatist’s collections and with coin dealers and have all been replaced by the “Loonie”.

The fifty cents coin has the value of a half-dollar and traditionally depicts the Coat of Arms for Canada. Over the past few decades it has not been circulating widely, as very few coins have been issued by the Royal Canadian Mint, and is primarily of Coin Collectors and dealers’ interest; nevertheless it still remains legal tender.
The specifications of this coin are Diameter 27.13 mm, thickness 1.95 mm, weight 6.9 gms, composition: Steel 93.15%, copper 4.75%, nickel 2.1%, edge is milled.

The twenty-five cent coin is the next in value. It is commonly called a “quarter” (short for quarter dollar, which is the actual value of the coin). This coin traditionally has the picture of a Caribou on it. Caribou are large, strong animals and are a variety of Deer. 
Obverse of a 25 cent coin issued in 2009 showing the Royal Canadian Mint mark, (based on RCM's logo) below the queen's portrait/bust, which has been engraved on all issued coins since October 2006: 

Reverse of the 25 cents coin issued in 2009.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter 23.88 mm, thickness 1.58 mm, weight 4.4 gms, Composition Steel 94%, Copper 3.8%, Nickel 2.2%. Edge is milled.

The ten-cent coin is commonly called a “Dime” and traditionally has a picture of the famous Nova Scotian racing yacht called the “Bluenose”. 

(The above scanned images of a ten cent coin are from the collection of Jayant Biswas).


  Reverse of a 10 cent coin issued in 2011 showing the "Bluenose" racing yacht (from Mr. Lalingkar's collection).

Its specifications are Diameter 18.03 mm, thickness 1.22 mm, weight 1.75 gms, Composition Steel 92%, copper 5.5% nickel 2.5%.

The five-cent coin is commonly called a “nickel”. This coin traditionally has a picture of a Beaver on its reverse. Beavers build dams across rivers/streams and water bodies by cutting down logs/trees with their strong teeth and using their tails.
Obverse of a 5 cents coin issued in 1999.

Reverse of the 5 cents coin issued in 1999 showing a beaver at work.

Obverse of a 5 cents coin issued in 2008.

Reverse of the 5 cents coin issued in 2008.

 The diameter of this coin is 21.2 mm, thickness 1.76mm, weight 3.95 gms, Composition: Steel 94.5%, Copper 3.5%, nickel  2%. The coin is 12-sided with a plain edge.

The smallest coin is the one-cent coins which are commonly called the penny. These coins traditionally have two maple leaves on them (the Maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada).

 Obverse of a one cent coin issued in 1981.

Reverse of the one cent coin issued in 1981.

Obverse of a one cent coin issued in1986.

Reverse of the one cent coin issued in 1986.

Obverse and Reverse of the one-cent coin issued in 1993 showing two maple leaves on a twig on the reverse.

The specifications of this coin are Diameter 19.05 mm, weight 2.35 gms, composition Steel 94%, Nickel 1.5%, Copper 4.5%, Edge is plain.
These one – penny coins are no longer cost effective, as it costs the Government 1.6 cents to mint a new penny. Also, due to inflation, the purchasing power of the penny has eroded over the years. On 29th March 2012, the Canadian Government, within the scope of its Economic Action Plan 2012, announced that the 1 cent coin will no longer be minted. Accordingly, from the Fall of 2012 the Royal Canadian Mint will stop producing these coins, but the coins already in circulation will remain legal tender and the penny will retain its value indefinitely and be used in payments, but with certain restrictions – cash transactions will be rounded off to the nearest 5 cents, while non-cash transactions (cheques, credit cards, debit cards etc.) can still be paid to the nearest 1 cent. 

Also, while pennies can be redeemed at financial institutions the Canadian Government is encouraging citizens to consider donating them to charities. (It occurs to me that, perhaps, giving them to coin collectors/coin bloggers/coin websites could be more useful, as this will go a long way in preserving the historic heritage of the one penny coins for posterity).

New $1 and $2 coins:

-          In April 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint has introduced new generation one and two dollar coins for general circulation under its endeavours to increase the cost – efficiency for new mintages. Accordingly, these new generation coins will be a combination of several leading – edge security features and along with the Royal Canadian mint’s patented Multi-ply Plated Steel technology, these coins are made to last longer. This technology includes a steel core with alternating layers of metals say, for example Brass Copper, and nickel. These coins are set to lead the evolution of coins around the World into a better and longer lasting “Avatar” (Hindi word for incarnation). 

-          The above is a picture of the new one - dollar coin (Loonie) .A “noticeable” change in the traditional design of the $1 (Loonie) is the introduction of a single laser mark of a maple leaf positioned within a circle on the coin’s reverse face above the Loon design. This laser mark is produced by using a contrasting pattern micro-engraved on the coin die, during the minting process.

-          Similarly, in the $2 (Toonie) coin shown above, three “noticeable” changes have been introduced: 

The addition of two laser marks of maple leaves, each within a circle, on the lower side of the coin’s reverse, a virtual image of two maple leaves on the upper side of the coin, which results in a different image being seen, when the coin is turned from side to side. 

Another interesting feature is that the virtual image is produced by engraving different designs on each side of two-sided grooves on the face of the coin. 

A third difference is that the edge inscriptions “CANADA” and 2 DOLLARS” are engraved along the outer edge of the coin. An image of the edge is shown below:

The Royal Canadian Mint:

-          The Royal Canadian Mint was set up in 1908 when the British Royal Mint opened the Ottawa branch.
-          The Mint was handed over to Canadians in 1931.
-          There are presently two mints one based at Ottawa and the other at Winnipeg. The Ottawa mint produces hand-crafted collector and commemorative coins, gold bullion coins, medals and medallions. The mint at Winnipeg produces circulation coins at about 20 million coins per day. It has also minted coins for over 60 other countries (including India), based on specific orders.
-          The 25 paise coin in 1985 and 1988 with the old design as well as the new design (Save the Rhino Project, in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (now the Worldwide Fund for Nature) were minted by the Royal Canadian Mint for India. Both the coins exhibit the “c” mint mark, below the year of issue.
     I have specimens of both coins in my collection and which are covered in detail in my post “20) Independent India issues: 25 paise coins; the journey from usage over five decades to stepping into history” - Reference link given at the bottom of this post).
-          From October 2006, a new “ mint mark” based on the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) logo inside a circle has been engraved on the obverse of all circulating coins issued, which is placed just below the Queen’s portrait/bust(as given in the 25 cent coin above):

-          The RCM, for designs on the reverse of coins, lays stress on themes which necessarily reflect Canada’s heritage, culture and values.

A strange experience with the Royal Canadian Mint:

Although I collect commemorative coins from mints around the World, it was rather surprising to note that the Royal Canadian Mint does not despatch coins to India-based customers, so much so that having written to their customer service cell quite a few times as to how to procure Commemorative coins brought out by them, I have received no response from them. 
Also, their Dealer’s list contains the name of “London Mint Office, London” which is strictly speaking not an International Dealer, but supplies coins to the U.K. citizens only on approval basis and when I tried the Hong Kong based Dealer, after completing my form details, the automated response was “The contacted website says @#%^&*+”  (or something like that in Cantonese). I was left wondering what the website was actually telling me!! Nevertheless, the Royal Canadian Mint sends me details of their new releases through an email-subscription, but there is little that I can do about buying these coins in the face of such adversities!! 
Commemorative / circulating special coin issues:

Some of the special issue circulating commemorative coins issued by Canada are:
Ø  For Canada’s Centennial of Confederation in 1967, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a series of coins depicting Canada’s wildlife. The following animals/birds/fishes were included: 1 dollar coin (Canadian Goose), 50 cent coin (Wolf), 25 cent coin (Wildcat/bobcat), 10 cent coin (Mackerel), 5 cent coin (Rabbit), 1 cent coin (Dove). For the first time, $20 Gold coins were also issued having the Queen’s Canadian Coat of Arms on the reverse.
Ø  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) appeared on coins minted in 1973 and 1998.
Ø  Then again, to commemorate Canada’s 125th year of existence in 1992, a set twenty-five cent coins (quarters or quarter dollars) – one each for the ten provinces and the then 2 territories – i.e. 12 coins – sets were brought out by the Royal Canadian Mint. Since these coins were brought out in limited edition sets, most of these were collected by numismatists.
Ø  $1 coin was issued in 1995 commemorating the Canadian peace-keepers, known as the peace-keepers dollar.

  •    To celebrate the new millennium in 1999 and 2000, commemorative coins were issued in both years.

Ø  A 10 cents coin was issued in 2001 for general circulation to honour volunteers.

Ø  A Special edition of coins was brought out to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee of her ascension as the Queen of Canada in 2002. These coins were all in the denominations of $2 (polar bear), $1 (loon), 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent. These were accompanied by a special $1 coin for the occasion, with a young Queen’s face on one side and a present day profile (as in 2002) on the other.
Ø   I25th Anniversary of Terry Fox Marathon of Hope (2005 – the Terry Fox Dollar was unveiled, which was the first time that a Canadian had figured on a circulation coin).
Ø  In 2007, the Royal Canadian mint produced the largest coin in the world – a 100 Kg. 99.999% pure $1 million gold bullion coin which feat was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Again, in April 2008, a $2 circulating coin was issued by the Royal Canadian mint to celebrate the Quadricentennial (400 years) of founding of Quebec City.
A “ lucky loonie” 2004 Olympics (to wish the athletes luck), Alberta and Saskatchewan centennial quarters (2005), Lucky Loonie –Olympics 2006 (which was brought out to commemorate the achievements of the  men’s and women’s Canadian Hockey teams which skated to victory over a “lucky” loonie circulation dollar coin buried beneath the ice at the Olympics Winter Games in 2002 and also to wish Canadian athletes success in the 2006 Winter Olympics), 2010 Olympic Games Circulation coins (in addition to several non-circulating Commemorative Olympics coins).

Ø  In October 2011, the Royal Canadian Mint released 5 commemorative circulation coins. These coins included: Parks Canada Centennial “Loonie” and the Boreal Forest “Toonie”. In addition three 25 cents (quarters) were released featuring the Orca, Peregrine falcon and the Wood bison.
The obverse of a coin issued in 2011, commemorating the Boreal Forest. It shows a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II without a crown facing right, with the inscription “ELIZABETH II D.G.REGINA (meaning Elizabeth II By the Grace of God Queen). 

Reverse of the Boreal Forest commemorative coin issued in 2011.
The specifications of the coin are diameter 28 mm, thickness 1.8mm, weight 7.3 gms. The outer ring is 99% steel, centre: 92% copper, aluminium 6% nickel 2%. Its edge is intermittently milled/smooth.

Ø  Some other circulation commemorative coins issued were:

 Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer campaign (2006), 10 anniversary of the $2 coin (2006), 90th Anniversary of the Armistice, 1918, showing the iconic red poppy, Canada’s Flower of Remembrance (2008), 100th Anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club (2009), 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy (2010), 100th Anniversary of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Team (2010), 65th Anniversary of end of World War II (2010).

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