Canadian Small Cents Presentation
Presented to the club by Jared Welsh on Sept. 5, 2012
The Canadian small cent was first minted in 1920. The one-cent coin was reduced from a weight of 5.67 grams to 3.24 grams and the diameter was reduced from 25.4mm to 19.05mm, the metal composition remained the same. This was done to save the mint money due to the price of copper at the time. During the mid 1920s there was little demand for circulation coins and so the mintage for the one-cent coin is relatively low for the years 1922 through 1925, making these key date coins in the series. There are two varieties for the 1929 one cent pieces, high nine and low nine. This variety has to do with the position of the second nine in the date. The high nine variety is the scarcer of the two.
When king George V died in January of 1936 his eldest son inherited the throne and gained the title king Edward VIII. In early December of the same year king Edward VIII abdicated, leaving his brother to become king George VI. This was a problem for the London Royal Mint as work had already begun on the tools necessary to produce coins bearing Edward VIII as king. This work had to be scrapped and the mint began preparing new dies bearing the image of king George VI. In early 1937 there was a demand for coins but since the Royal Canadian Mint did not have new George VI dies yet they struck a small number one cent, ten cent and twenty-five cent coins using leftover 1936 dies. A small dot was punched into the dies below the date to indicate the coins were struck in 1937. Despite a reported mintage of 678,823 pieces there are only four or five authentic 1936 dot cents known. The last of these to sell in auction went for $400,000.
In the middle of 1937 the new George VI dies arrived and the Royal Canadian Mint began striking one-cent coins with the maple leaf twig design on the reverse. The maple leaf twig would remain as the reverse design for every year the cent was struck until it's final year of minting with the exception of the 1967 one cent design. In 1942 the metal composition of the cent was changed from 95.5% copper, 3% tin, 1.5% zinc to 98% copper, 0.5% tin, 1.5% zinc.
In August of 1947 India was granted independence from the British Empire. This caused a problem for the Royal Canadian mint as the Latin abbreviation "ET IND:IMP", which appeared on the obverse of all Canadian coins at the time, indicated George VI was also the Emperor of India. This of course had to be removed. As the new coinage tools with the modified obverse were being prepared in early 1948 there was a demand for all denominations of coins due to the post war economic boom. To meet the demand the Mint used 1947 dies with a small maple leaf after the date to signify the coins were actually struck in 1948. The 1947 maple leaf coins were minted until the new 1948 dies were ready for use. There were more 1947 maple leaf one-cent pieces minted in 1948 than there were one-cent pieces actually minted in 1947. There is a blunt seven and a pointed seven variety for the 1947 maple leaf one-cent coins. There are 3 varieties on 1948 dated one-cent pieces. The varieties have to do with the last "A" of GRATIA on the obverse and whether the "A" points to or in between the denticles that are along the rim of the coin. Similar varieties are also found on the obverse of the 1949 one-cent pieces.
With the death of king George VI in 1952, his bust was replaced with the bust of queen Elizabeth II on all coins beginning in 1953. The original design of Elizabeth II on the new coins had too high of a relief and a pair of lines depicting a fold in the queen's gown on her shoulder did not show up well on coins. This variety is commonly known as No Shoulder Fold (NSF). Later in the year the Mint's chief engraver, Thomas Shingles lowered the relief on the dies so that the shoulder fold showed up more clearly. In 1954 the No Shoulder Fold obverse was accidentally used to make some of the cents for the proof-like sets. In 1955 a very small quantity of No Shoulder Fold cents were accidently struck for circulation.
In 1965 a more mature portrait of queen Elizabeth II replaced the previous portrait used on coins. There are four varieties for the 1965 cent, small beads, pointed five; small beads, blunt five; large beads, pointed five; and large beads blunt five. The large beads, pointed five variety is the scarcest of the four.
To commemorate Canada's centennial in 1967, the maple leaf twig reverse was temporarily replaced by the image of a rock dove and a double date reading 1867-1967. In 1968 the maple leaf twig reverse was resumed.
In 1979 the size of the queen's portrait was reduced so it would be proportional to the size of the coin.
Due to the rising price of copper the mint struck test tokens in 1977 with a reduced weight and a diameter of 16mm. As it turns out the test tokens were the same size and weight as tokens used by the Toronto Transit Commission. This caused the mint to cancel their plans for reducing the size of the cent. Copper prices were still rising which caused the mint to make a change to the cent in 1980. The metal composition remained the same as previous years but the diameter was reduced by a half-mm and the thickness was reduced from 1.55 mm to 1.38 mm, which resulted in the cent weighing 2.8 grams compared to the previous weight of 3.24 grams.
In 1982 another change to the one-cent coin occurred. Again the composition remained unchanged but the weight was reduced to 2.5 grams and the coin went from being round to being 12 sided. The thickness was slightly increased to 1.45mm and the diameter slightly increased to 19.1mm.
In 1983 there were two varieties, near beads and far beads, referring to the distance the beads were from the coins rim. Both varieties are fairly common.
In 1985 there are blunt five and pointed five varieties. The pointed five variety is the scarcer of the two.
In 1990 a new portrait of the queen was introduced on Canadian coins. This portrait of the queen is the first that was designed by a Canadian. To commemorate Canada's 125th birthday in 1992, the cent has a double date that reads 1867-1992.
In 1997 due to the constantly increasing price of copper the composition of the one-cent piece was changed to copper plated zinc. Because the 12-sided cent was not very suitable for plating it went back to being round.
In 1999 the Royal Canadian Mint created new steel blanks to reduced costs. The multi-ply plated steel blanks were composed of 94% steel, 4.5% copper and 1.5% nickel. A small number of test coins of each denomination were produced and given to the vending machine industry for testing. The Mint also issued sets of these test coins for collectors. The multi-ply plated steel coins are designated with a letter "P" under the portrait of the queen. 1999 "P" and 2000 "P" coins were not issued for circulation.
In 2002, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II golden jubilee a double date reading 1952-2002 was added on the obverse.
In 2003 a new portrait of the queen was introduced. Both the old and the new portrait cents were issued in 2003.
It is important to note that the Royal Canadian Mint has produced both copper-plated zinc and multi-ply plated steel cents for circulation since 2001, creating non-magnetic and magnetic varieties for each year.
In 2006 there were six different one-cent varieties minted. In no particular order the six varieties are; no logo, no "P" non-magnetic and magnetic; logo non-magnetic and magnetic; "P" magnetic and non-magnetic. 233,000 copper plated zinc planchets some how found their way into the coin press that was striking copper plated steel cents with the "P" composition mark. This resulted in non-magnetic "P" cents, making this the most rare of the 2006 varieties. The most commonly found 2006 cent is non magnetic with no mark on the obverse. Beginning in 2006 the Royal Canadian Mint's logo was added to the obverse. 2006 also marks the last year coins bearing the "P" composition mark were minted.
There had been talk about abolishing the one-cent coin for many years now with a supporting argument that inflation has eroded the value of one cent and that it is no longer useful. In past years there have been rumors that it cost the Mint more than one cent to mint a one-cent coin. On March 29 2012, Canada's finance minister announced that the Royal Canadian mint would cease production of the cent as the production cost is cited as 1.6 cents per one-cent coin. The last Canadian one-cent coin, which was minted on May 4th by Canada's finance minister Jim Flaherty, was given to the Canadian currency museum. It was originally announced that the one-cent piece would be withdrawn from circulation late in the fall of 2012 but recently it was announced that the one-cent coin was set to be withdrawn from circulation on February 4th 2013. The one cent piece will remain legal tender indefinitely just like the rest of Canada's withdrawn currency.