Rare Canadian Coins
Published on 12/04/2020 by APMEX
Though most collectors in the U.S. gravitate to U.S. coins, Canadian coins are also available and widely collected. Our neighbor to the north has a wide variety of interesting, unique and rare coins.
Many of these coins come from the early 20th century. There are several errors and rarities that date from this period, and many of them come from unusual historical circumstances. Rare Canadian coins have a rich history.
1936 Canadian "Dot" Coins
Canada was part of the British Empire, and as such, its coins bore (and still bear) the image of the current British sovereign. Edward VIII received the throne of England in 1936, and when his reign started, his image was added to all circulating coinage across all English holdings worldwide.
Edward had been notorious for affairs and partying during his time as the Prince of Wales and did not have much interest in state affairs. He became engaged to an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson and provoked a constitutional crisis. Eventually, the government insisted on one of three options: give up marrying Simpson, marry against his cabinet's wishes, or abdicate. Edward knew that if he married against his cabinet's wishes, the entire government would resign, so he chose to abdicate the throne. Simpson and the former king remained husband and wife for the rest of their life, moving to Australia. His brother, the Duke of York, became king and took the name George VI. This all took place in 1936, and Edward's announcement that he was leaving the throne came in December 1936.
This became a big problem for mints worldwide, which had no dies prepared with George VI's face. The prospect of not minting coins was not feasible, so mints had to resort to creative solutions to the problem. The Royal Canadian Mint decided to produce a small number of interim coins with the 1936 dies but to indicate that they were different from the previous coin, they had a small raised "dot" under the date. Three denominations were struck: the 25-, 10- and 1-cent coins. The cent is by far the rarest, with only three mint state examples known.
1911 Canadian Silver Dollar
This coin was once the most expensive collectible coin in the world. It has changed hands a few times but once sold for $1,066,000. It has since been eclipsed, but it is still one of the world's most sought-after rarities. These Silver dollars have only three known examples.
The Royal Mint in England created these as pattern coins for possible use at the Royal Canadian Mint. They were struck in England, then sent to Canada for approval. The coin was rejected, and the patterns were the only surviving examples — two in Silver, one in bronze. The coin has been called the "Holy Grail" or "Emperor" of Canadian collectible coins due to its rarity and cost.
1921 Canadian Half Dollar
The 1921 50-cent piece is called the "King" of Canadian collectible coins. The original mintage was over 200,000, but demand was so low that most of them were reclaimed and melted down. Most believe the few surviving examples were from sets and a small handful of regular coins sold at the mint that year to visitors. Depending on grade, they are worth anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to a quarter million.
1948 Canadian Silver Dollar
Canada's ties to the British Empire are also at the root of this rarity, which owes its small mintage to India's independence.
Obverses of Canadian coins had featured the reigning king or queen's profile, as currency in the British Empire usually did. But they also included the name and royal title in Latin of that monarch. This created a problem because part of that title was Emperor of India.
After World War II, U.S. aid to England under the Marshall Plan was dependent on the U.K.'s willingness to give up its colonies. The Indian independence movement was strong, and India had its own army. The U.K. had to give up its claim to India, and independence and partition followed rapidly after World War II. In 1947 Viscount Louis Mountbatten announced the partitioning of British India, splitting it into India and Pakistan. India became a sovereign nation on August 15, 1947.
1948 dies for coins had already been created, and the title needed to be removed before the coin could be struck. New dies were made, but by the time they reached the Royal Canadian Mint, only a few could be made. The low mintage makes this coin a rarity. Low grades will often fetch around a thousand dollars, while higher grades can cost $20,000 or more.
There are many more Canadian rarities out there, including the 1947 Maple Leaf Silver Dollar, the 1921 5-cent coin, the 1906 Small Crown 25-cent coin and the 1916-C Gold Sovereign. Silver 5-cent pieces in all years are also hard to find. These few examples only scratch the surface of the rich world of collecting rare Canadian coins. If you're looking for that perfect coin to round out your collection, browse APMEX's selection of Canadian numismatic rarities. We want to help you find that missing piece.