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Specimen Sets 1981 - Present

Specimen Sets 1981 - Present

The Royal Canadian Mint produces special sets of Canadian coins with a unique finish called specimen sets. Learn more about these interesting coins.

Specimen coins are a special type of coin created by the Royal Canadian Mint. These unique sets are released annually and are a rewarding way to collect Canada’s currency. Additionally, the RCM occasionally releases commemorative specimen sets to celebrate an important part of the nation’s history.

What Is a Specimen Set?

Among Canadian coins, “specimen” refers to a special finish that is higher quality and more brilliant than normal coins for circulation. The Royal Canadian Mint is the only mint in the world that releases specimen coins. Most mints create a few classes of coins. Proof coins are made for testing dies and collection. Some uncirculated currency is created to sell to collectors. Then, the vast majority of currency is circulated. A specimen is like a superior version of the uncirculated currency. It is similarly reserved for collectors and archiving. However, it has an even better finish.

Royal Canadian Mint specimen coins

Royal Canadian Mint specimen coins have a brilliant, frosted relief, or the raised pattern on the coin. Additionally, they feature a matte, lined field, or the background of the design. This accentuates the relief further. These features make specimen coins a particularly enjoyable addition to any collection.

The History of Specimen Sets

Historically, the term “specimen” was used as an alternative name for proof coins. These are the coins that are struck at the beginning of a run for quality control and archival purposes. Prior to 1935, Canadian coins were designed in London. The dies and tools were created there then shipped to Canada so the coins could be struck in Ottawa. During this time, it was especially common for specimen coins to be given to visiting dignitaries (where the name comes from). This practice has continued but is less commonplace now that Canada creates its own coins from start to finish.

Today, there is less need for proof coins. Those are still struck as special commemorative sets as well as the new specimen finish. The RCM releases them annually for collectors to enjoy. Additionally, the mint sometimes creates special commemorative sets such as the 2000 Specimen Millennium 25-Center Set With a Medallion, which was created to mark the new millennium.

Notable Specimen Sets in Our Collection

At Colonial Acres Coins, we have a diverse selection of Canadian coins, including specimen sets dating back to 1981. These are some of the most notable sets:

2019 Six-Coin Pileated Woodpecker Specimen Set


2019 Six-Coin Pileated Woodpecker Specimen Set:

This recent release by the RCM includes a five-cent, 10-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent, one-dollar and two-dollar coin. The special one-dollar coin is made from brass-plated steel. It features a beautiful design of a woodpecker on a tree. Additionally, the 50-cent specimen coin is exclusive to this set.

2018 Burrowing Owl Specimen Set


2018 Burrowing Owl Specimen Set:

This unique coin represents one of Canada’s most unique species. The endangered burrowing owl is unusual in that it nests underground. The one-dollar coin in this set is almost as noteworthy as the animal it represents. It features the RCM’s unique specimen finish and comes with a book-style packaging for easy viewing.

2015 Baby Raccoons Special Edition Specimen Set


2015 Baby Raccoons Special Edition Specimen Set:

The RCM released a series of special editions celebrating the young wildlife in Canada. The 2015 specimen set included a unique two-dollar coin with two baby raccoons seen in their natural environment. It was a wonderful way to commemorate the natural beauty of the country.

2014 Baby Rabbits Special Edition Specimen Set


2014 Baby Rabbits Special Edition Specimen Set:

2014 also saw a special edition specimen set with the young wildlife two-dollar coin. This year, it was a pair of baby rabbits that were featured. The design shows them in some low brush, reflective of their preferred natural habitat.

2012 25th Anniversary of the Loonie Specimen Set


2012 25th Anniversary of the Loonie Specimen Set:

In 2012, the RCM celebrated the 25th anniversary of the much-loved Canadian dollar coin, the loonie. To mark this occasion, the specimen set for the year featured a bronze-plated, specimen coin with the famous loon. The reserve design was created by Glen Loates.

These coins are excellent recent examples of the types of specimen sets in our collection. These coin sets are great for young collectors wanting to get their start. They are also a fun addition to the collections of anyone who enjoys special coins celebrating Canada.

Find the Right Coins for Your Collection

Explore the full selection of Royal Canadian Mint coins at Colonial Acres Coins. We have options for collectors of all budgets and preferences. Take a look; we’re confident you’ll find something to love.