Collection: Canada Decimal Coins

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The term Canada decimal coins refers to coinage created based on the Canadian dollar. There are seven categories of decimal coins in Canada that are currently in production; the five cent, ten cent, twenty five cent, fifty cent, one dollar and two dollar coins. The 50 cent coins are not used in general circulation and are produced primarily for collectors. One cent coins are no longer in production but are highly sought after collectible items in the coin industry.

Each coin is named after the value. For example, a five cent piece would have a value of five cents. However, in real life, the coins are known as nickel, dime and quarter. The dollar and two dollar coin are often referred to as the loonie and toonie respectively. As far as the penny or one cent piece coin of Canada, this piece was discontinued in 2012.



The Canadian one cent coin is no longer in circulation but can be a collector’s item. The coin has had a few changes throughout it’s history from 1858 to 2012. Early issues from 1858-1920 were larger with a diameter of 25.4mm while more current issues from 1920-2012 had a diameter of 19.05 mm and a thickness of 1.45mm. The Penny’s composition has also changed over time where the early issues from 1858-1996 were Primarily Pure Copper, later issues from 1997-2012 composed of either copper plated Zinc or 94% steel, 1.5% nickel and 4.5% copper plating. The 1920 to 1981 coin as well as the 1997 to the 2012 coin had a plain edge while the 1982 to 1996 minted coin had a 12 sided edge. On the obverse side, the image of Queen Elizabeth II is depicted while the reverse side shows a Maple Leaf.


The five cent piece or the nickel has gone through several changes from its introduction into Canada’s decimal system in 1858. from 1858-1921 these small Sterling Silver coins weighed only 1.16g and smaller than a 10-cent coins with a diameter of 15.5mm these early strikes got the nickname “Fish scales” In 1922 the modern size nickel we know today was formed with a diameter of 21.21mm and weighing 4.54 grams. All 5 cent coins minted from 1922-1981 were Struck from Pure Nickel, where 1982-2001 were struck from Cupronickel 75% copper and 25% Nickel. MOdern issues are Multi-ply composed of 94.5% steel, 3.5% copper and 2% nickel plating. On the obverse side the coin has an image of Queen Elizabeth II while the reverse side shows the symbol of a beaver.


The ten cent piece or dime is created of a different composition than the penny and nickel with early strikes 1858-1968 being struck from Silver Planchets and 1968-1999 they were minted from Pure Nickel and modern issues from 1999-date are Multi-ply 92% steel, 5.5% copper, 2.5% nickel plating. The coin has milled siding and features an image of Queen Elizabeth II on the Obverse side and the Bluenose on the Reverse. The Bluenose is a schooner used for fishing and racing constructed in 1921 in Nova Scotia. The ship was under the command of Angus Walters and became an icon of the region and symbol of Canada in the 1930s.


The twenty five cent piece or quarter is comprised followed a similar journey as the dime where it was comprised of the similar metals and changed composition at the same times. The quarter were created from Silver alloys ranging from Sterling .925 to .50% silver from 1858-1968 , and 1968-1999 they were minted from Pure Nickel and modern issues from 1999-date are Multi-ply of 94% steel, 3.8% copper and 2.2% nickel plating with 23.88 mm in diameter and 1.58 mm in thickness. The sides of the coin are milled and the obverse side shows an image of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse side traditionally has a caribou, an animal commonly found in North America, however the quarter is a popular denomination for special commemorative issues.


The fifty cent piece of Canada is came into circulation in 1870 and remained a common coin in circulation up till the end of the silver issues in 1967. They are still minted today but typically do not end up in general circulation,from 1968-1999 they were struck from pure nickel and from 1999 they are multi-ply and is comprised of 93.15% steel, 4.75% copper and 2.1% nickel plating. The coin has milled edges and features Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side, a common theme with Canadian coinage. The reverse side depicts an image of the Canadian Coat of Arms which is the official coat of arms for the Canadian monarch.


As far as the one dollar coin is concerned, there are three types. The first is comprised of 80% Silver are were minted from 1935-1967. The second are nickel dollars issued from 1968-1986 and comprised of 99.9% nickel. This coin has the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and traditionally the Voyageurs in a Canoe on the reverse. The third coin is known as the Loonie making its debut in 1987 and currently still going strong it is comprised of 91.5% nickel, 8.5% bronze. This coin has Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side and the common loon the reverse, hence the name Loonie.


The two dollar coin appearing in Canadian circulation in 1996 is comprised of 99% nickel within the ring of the coin and 92% copper, 6% aluminum and 2% nickel in the center. The coin comes in two forms, both having Queen Elizabeth on the obverse and one having a polar bear on the reverse side while the second has a polar bear with two security features on the reverse.

These are just the basics of Canada decimal coins and a starting point for coin collectors.

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