In Canada, a penny is a coin with a value of one cent. The Royal Canadian Mint has classified the coin as a ‘one-cent piece’ but penny and cent are common terms when discussing the coin type. The first one cent piece of Canada was minted in 1858 with this coin, and other early mintages, being quite collectible. The first coin was 25.4 millimeters in diameter and had a weight of 4.54 grams. The coin was first created to bring about a sense of order to the monetary system of Canada.
Before 1858, Canada relied on British coinage as well as bank and commercial tokens, along with currency from the United States and Spanish milled dollars. The specifications of the Canadian one cent piece in the beginning were set to make the coins have a second use, as a measuring tool. However, the weight was so light that the tokens were not accepted by the public and the weight would change by 1876.
Every one cent coin produced from 1858 until 1899 has an obverse that depicts the Canadian monarch who reigned at that time. The one cent coin was phased out in 2012, with no more coins produced. The final obverse of the coin would depict Queen Elizabeth II with her likeness seen on three different design updates.
During the 1858 to 1899 mintage of the one cent piece, the obverse would feature the likeness of Queen Victoria. The Young Head version would be created in 1858 and 1859. These coins were struck before the Confederation so they are actually a British colonial coin issued under the Province of Canada. This coin was struck at 100 coins per pound of bronze instead of the British standard, which is 80 coins per pound. Because of this change the coin was not as readily accepted by the public. Leonard C. Wyon was responsible for the design with the coins composed of 95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc.
Canada became a country by 1867 and this is when the Mature Head version of the Queen Victoria one cent piece was produced. The first coin issued by the Dominion of Canada was struck that year and the penny was made heavier to be like the British ½ penny. Leonard C. Wyon remained the designer, with the coin consisting of 95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc. The weight increased to 5.67 grams.
During the time frame of 1858 until 1899, each coin struck for Canada was done so in England by the Royal Mint of London or the Heaton mint located in Birmingham. Coins struck in London would have no mint mark while those done in Birmingham would have an H mint mark.
One cent coins from this time frame are highly collectible due to imperfections in printing or rarity of the coin, as well as condition and other factors. Having a coin appraised will help to determine the overall value. Whenever you find a new coin from this time frame, have it properly appraised to know it’s true value.