World Coins

Canada celebrates first circulating coin series with modern oversized versions

A limited edition set honors the 150th anniversary of Canada’s first unified circulating silver coins.

Images courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint

Canada issued its first unified series of circulating coinage in 1870, and to mark the 150th anniversary of this milestone, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued a special 2020 set.

The four-coin set replicates those classic designs issued by the Dominion of Canada, but offers them in much different sizes, and in finer silver than the originals.

The coins are the 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-cent denominations, and are composed of .9999 fine silver, compared to the classic coins’ composition of .925 fine silver. In addition, the modern examples are much larger than the originals.

The new 5-cent coin weighs 15.87 grams and measures 34 millimeters in diameter.

The new 10-cent coin weighs 31.39 grams and measures 38 millimeters in diameter.

The new 25-cent coin weighs 62.69 grams and measures 50 millimeters in diameter.

The new 50-cent coin weighs 157.6 grams and measures 65.25 millimeters in diameter.

For historical authenticity, all four coins feature the 1870 designs.

The obverse of both the 5- and 10-cent coins features the “laureate” effigy of Queen Victoria by Leonard C. Wyon.

The obverse of the 25- and 50-cent coins features the “diadem” effigy of Queen Victoria by Wyon.

The 50-cent coins issued in 1870 had one of two obverse varieties. This set features the first obverse design (“no LCW”), which doesn’t include designer Wyon’s initials “L.C.W.” on the bust truncation.

Each reverse features Wyon’s design of crossed maple boughs surmounted by St. Edward’s Crown.

All four of the coins are dual-dated 1870–2020 on the reverse.

Old coins, new technology

The RCM used modern techniques to recaptures these designs from Canada’s past.

“Overall modern minting techniques are the distinguishing factor,” the RCM’s Senior Manager of Public Affairs Alex Reeves told Coin World. “The originals showed the limitations of their era, such as misaligned and inconsistent dies with each coin, or even inconsistencies from one denomination to another. The crown is a good example: the original was relatively crooked and the ‘Maltese Cross’ often touched the top denticles. It was also differently shaped on each denomination.”

Other modern techniques featured on these coins are the frosting and the laser-engraved pattern on the obverse.

The original dies were not scanned and updated, as the RCM had no access to them. However, the RCM obtained all elements of the original designs, such as the exact shape and count of the original crossed maple boughs, from on samples of the coins at the Canadian Currency Museum in Ottawa.

The 2020 coins are individually encapsulated and presented in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded “black beauty” box.

In total, 850 sets are being issued, and the product sold out from the RCM after just a few days of public sales. However, Gatewest Coins offers the set for $649.95 U.S.

Delivery of the set is not due to begin until Oct. 6, according to the RCM.

To order the set, or learn more, visit the firm’s website,

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