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Difference Between U.S, Canadian, and Mexican Precious Metals

Coin collecting is enjoyed by millions of people across the globe, known to be both interesting and profitable. One reason for this popularity is that coins bring history to life through their physical composition and ever-changing iconography. As you hold an old coin, you have in your hand an economic time capsule marked by a date, historic portrait and other imagery that was significant when the currency was created. While North American coins certainly share a similar history, there are many differences between U.S., Canadian and Mexican Precious Metals.

Canadian Coins

Much like the early coinage of Mexico and the United States, Canadian money struck before the 1870s was created by a disconnected jumble of banks, individuals and independent civic authorities. This disarray led to a certain level of madness concerning valuation from province to province. Eventually, the government attempted to develop an official currency struck in the name of Canada. Most of these early bronze coins were made at the Royal Mint in London, England. Since 1908, however, almost all Canadian coins have been struck at the Royal Canadian Mint branches in Ottawa and Winnipeg. 

The first Canadian Silver coins were available in denominations of five, ten and twenty cents in 1858. Twelve years later, a fifty cent coin was introduced. A new series of these four coins were issued every year through the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. One significant example of Canadian Silver coins is a five cent piece initially minted in 1901, although it bears the date 1900. It features a portrait of Queen Victoria facing left, her name and the phrase, “Dei Gratia Regina,” Latin for “By the Grace of God.”

Canadian Gold coins first appeared in 1912 but were discontinued in 1914 because of World War I. Denominations of $5 and $10 were struck, with total mintage from all three years at less than 700,000 total coins. Today, the Royal Canadian Mint continues to strike Canadian Gold coins that feature what is perhaps the most iconic Canadian image, the maple leaf.

Mexican Coins

In the early 1800s, coinage from Mexico and surrounding Latin American countries mostly featured female representations of liberty and prosperity. This iconography was popular due to Mexico’s new independence, inspired by examples from the United States and France. The size and physical characteristics of Mexican Silver coins took cues from Spain, which had colonized much of Central America. Coins from Mexico were also popular in other parts of the world, with the Mexican 8 real proving popular in South Asia into the early 20th century. Escudos and reals struck before the Mexican monarchy was overthrown remain popular among collectors today. Today, Mexico is the only country that still includes real Silver in coins meant for circulation, using small amounts in both their 20 and 50 peso coins.

Pesos struck before 1905 are prime examples of Mexican Gold coins. They are made with more than 80 percent Gold and are highly collectible. The obverse features an eagle with a snake in its beak, while the reverse includes the value surrounded by a half wreath. A Mexican Gold coin worth 5 pesos was struck from 1905 through 1955 and featured the national arms on the obverse and a portrait of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on the reverse.

United States Coins

Even in the earliest days of independence, United States Silver coins were produced. Until the Comstock Lode was discovered in western Nevada just before the Civil War, the U.S. supply of Silver was limited, occasionally too limited to produce the full number of coins needed. After the war, the mining industry increased to such a degree that the country had more Silver than it could use. Therefore, a new mint opened in Carson City, Nevada, in 1870, near many of the largest mines. The Carson City Mint produced more than 56 million United States Silver coins during the 24 years it was open.

After the American stock market collapse of 1929, demand for United States Gold coins was high. People had little trust in paper money but Precious Metals, especially Gold, were deemed a trustworthy investment by the public. In 1929, about 600,000 Gold Half Eagles were struck but they quickly disappeared from circulation because people were hiding them in fear of another financial catastrophe. The popularity of United States Gold coins as a means of financial protection was not limited to the American population. To this day, it is known that people in European countries such as Switzerland, France and Poland have collectible U.S. Gold coinage locked away for safekeeping.

United States Platinum coins have a fascinating history. The first series of Platinum coins meant for circulation was issued in 1814. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the U.S. Mint once again issued a Platinum coin, this time as commemorative-issue bullion. The bullion coins carry a face value, but the amount is not an accurate representation of the Precious Metals value. Since 1997, the United States has issued at least one Platinum coin each year.


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