World Coins

Red-letter days for collectors of colorful circulating coins

These are red-letter days for collectors of colorful circulating coins.

The Royal Australian Mint has just released its fourth colorful circulating coin. Australia’s four colorful $2 coins join 14 circulating coins from Canada, one circulating coin from Papua New Guinea and another from New Zealand, all sporting color. 

RELATED: Australia issues fourth circulating $2 coin with color

Color has been in use for collector coins since 1992 (as detailed recently by Coin World columnist Rita Laws), but has only been in use for circulating coins since 2004. 

The Royal Canadian Mint was the first mint to pair the palette with the purse, with a circulating 25-cent coin featuring a red poppy, the symbol of World War I. 

That early issue drew attention for the wrong reason, though, as some residents claimed the color could be removed from the coin with vigorous rubbing.

The RCM perfected the color application process and continued using the quarter dollar as the means of conveyance for meaningful messages in more than monochrome, launching a Breast Cancer awareness coin in 2006 with a pink ribbon against a white background. 

Additional poppy coins soon found their way into circulation, and the RCM soon made history with colorful circulating coins for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. 

Though originally limited to red and pink, the RCM and RAM extended the colorful circulating coin canvas to include blue, green, yellow and purple. 

When issuing coins with color into circulation, world mints have been careful to only use color on the reverse, and for themes that the issuing nation finds meaningful.

All of Canada’s colorful coins have been denominated 25 cents, but Australia has used the smaller $2 coin (with a face value that is much higher than Canada) to celebrate colorful causes. 

Australia’s efforts at brightening up the pocket change Down Under has featured coins with smaller mintages but of larger denominations than the colorful counterparts issued by the RCM.

Thus far, only two countries outside of Canada and Australia have issued a colorful circulating coin. 

The first was Papua New Guinea, with a 50-toea coin in 2008 celebrating the national bank’s anniversary. The other is New Zealand, whose 2015 50-cent coin celebrates the service of ANZAC forces during World War I. A black background and white lines fill an area behind two soldiers, the first time a circulating coin has featured black-and-white "color." 

Not coincidentally, both of these coins were struck by the RCM, and so far, only Australia and Canada are the only two mints to develop color technology for pocket change. 

With so few colorful circulating coins to be found, and mint’s desire to gain attention for new coin issues (especially when collector versions are sold for hefty profits), the future for colorful coins entering circulation looks, well, golden.

Keep reading about color on coins:

New Zealand to issue circulating 50-cent coin with added color for ANZAC centenary

Australia issues colorful circulating $2 coin to commemorate Remembrance Day

Australia circulates new colorful $2 coin

Here are some other colorful coins celebrating World War I:

Royal Mint marks Remembrance Day with £5 coins struck for Alderney

UK honors Remembrance Day with red poppy on Alderney £5 coin

More from

Court rules in favor of Langbord family in 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle case

Langbord case: What are those 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles worth?

The £34 million worth of silver coins from SS City of Cairo wreck have been melted

The curious 1837 dime in an NGC black holder (or, when a coin in an MS-65 slab is valued like an MS-67)

NGC grades first Mint State 68 1884-CC Morgan dollar while still in its GSA holder

Please sign in or join to share your thoughts on this story.

Keep up with all of's news and insights by signing up for our free eNewslettersliking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!

Community Comments