The decade of 1940 to 1949 is an interesting one when looking at the history of the nickel. From the time that the nickel was first created for Canada in 1858, the coin has changed quite a bit from the way it looks and composition to the images depicted on the obverse and reverse sides. During this decade, World War II was in full swing which led to a shortage of nickels in the country. The Royal Canadian Mint had to figure out what to do as far as currency was concerned, with designers finding an interesting way to create more coinage due to the shortage.
1942 Nickel Shortage
In 1942, Canada began to see a shortage of nickel material due to World War II. This would continue into 1943. To solve the problem and continue to make new money, the designers for the Royal Canadian Mint decided to use a brass alloy known as tombac. However, the color of tombac is similar to the one cent coin so the shape was changed from a round design to one that is twelve sided to ensure there would be no confusion.
Another change to the coin was to replace the beaver design that had been used on the reverse side with the letter V, standing for victory. This design was used until the war came to an end in 1945. The Royal Canadian Mint found that despite the 12 sides and new design, the public was still confused so the tombac material was no longer used by 1944 and the coins were struck from chrome plated that year and the next.
1944 and 1945 Five Cent Piece
Because the brown coloring of the tombac was similar to the penny coin, the mint used steel banks that were nickel plated and then chrome plated to create the five cent coins. This brought back the silver color, though it was slightly blue in tone. These coins are not valuable collectibles unless found in high quality form. The coins were commonly used so they are often scratched.
1946 Change Back
When the war ended in 1945, the Royal Canadian Mint decided to change the coin back to its original design. So for 1946 production, the coins would have the standard beaver design and use nickel alloy. However, the 12 sided physical design would remain in place.
Some 1946 nickels have a double 6 in the date on the coin. This is known as the 6/6 variation. Two types of doubling can be found including a re-punched 6 with a smooth outline and a 6 on the lower right edge of the coin and upper back of the 6. These coins can have a nice value if in good condition and having the doubled marking.
1947 Maple Leaf Five Cent
In 1947, India received their independence. The letters IND IMP, standing for India’s Emperor, had to be removed from the coins of the British Commonwealth when dated after 1947. New designs were provided for Canada after being prepared in England however they did not arrive until the latter part of 1948. Any coins dated 1947 had a small maple leaf placed behind the date to signify they were minted in 1948.