The penny or one cent coin of Canada, has been around for many years, having first been produced in 1858. In the beginning, the one cent coin along with other denominations, were produced in London via the Royal Mint or the Heaton Mint. It was not until 1908 that Canada had their own mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, and began to produce their own coins.
From 1858, the one cent coin would change its look and weight among other features. From the time frame of 1910 to 1920, the coin would go from featuring Edward VII to depicting George V. The obverse side of the one cent coin always shows the reigning monarch at the time of mintage. In this time frame, the ruler would have been George V.
In 1911, the Royal Canadian Mint would strike the George V one cent coin with the likeness of the monarch staying on the coin until 1936. For the 1911 coin, the obverse was designed by Sir E. B. MacKennal with the reverse designed by W.H.J. Blakemore. The reverse design would include maple leaves that are wrapped around a vine. The coins were struck with 95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc. The diameter of the coin was 24.4 mm with a standard weight of 5.67 grams. When the coins were introduced in 1911, they would not have the wording ‘DEI GRATIA’ which is Latin for ‘God’s Grace’ in the inscription on the obverse. These coins are known as ‘godless coins’ and after a public outrage over the change, the term ‘DEI GRATIA’ was returned to the coin in 1912.
1920: A Significant Year in Coinage
The year 1920 was a significant one for coin minting in Canada. The year was the last in which large cents were struck but it was the first year to see small cents struck. Many of the large cents of 1920 were melted and used for striking of small cents for 1920.
By 1920, the government of Canada decided to reduce the cost of coinage production by ceasing to issue large cents at the same standard as the British half penny. Instead, small cents of the same weight as the American cent were struck. When this happened, the image on the obverse was just a bit different with a design by E.B. MacKennal featured. The initials for the designer are included on the truncation of the bust as B.M.
The reverse design at this time was completely changed and created by Fred Lewis. The alloy was slightly changed, to 95.5% copper with 3% tin and 1.5% zinc. The weight was changed to 3.24 grams and the diameter was a little different at 19.05 mm.
Significant Changes During this Time Frame
As you can see, from 1910 to 1920, there were significant changes to the one cent coin of Canada. From the obverse changing from Edward VII to George V to the removal and return of ‘DEI GRATIA’ wording, the one cent coin went on a journey in this decade, one that is certainly interesting.