Author Topic: Past changes to the Canadian 1c and 5 cent coins  (Read 301 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18 776
Past changes to the Canadian 1c and 5 cent coins
« on: March 22, 2018, 01:46:57 PM »
Over in the UK decimals board, FosseWay wrote this:

There are precedents for changing edge characteristics of coins without withdrawing the older ones. The Canadian 1 and 5 cent coins went from round to 12-sided and back to round again at different points (the 5c in the 1940s, the 1c in the 1980s). I have never understood the reason for these changes.

A New Zealand contact put me in touch with a Canadian numismatist, who emailed this explanation to me:

The explanation you are seeking for the one cent and five cents round to 12-sided design and back again is an interesting one and rarely talked about. I touched on this subject briefly many years ago.

Nickel is an important component of stainless steel and other alloys which were required for producing war materials and so with the outbreak of World War II an immense strain was placed on the nickel producers of Canada. In 1942 the mint decided to suspend the production of a nickel nickle (5-cent) and sought a substitute metal. The mint decided on tombac, a brassy type of material consisting of .88% copper and .12% zinc. The idea came from the British 3-penny piece first produced in 1937. The tombac 5-cent coin was given a 12 sided shape so that when/if it tarnished it wouldn't be confused with the 1-cent piece. The round shape was reintroduced in 1963 simply because it was discovered that it was cheaper to make round coins as the collars for the coining presses would last longer.

The 1-cent piece underwent a modified portrait and maple leaf design in 1982. The weight dropped from 2.8 grams to 2.5 grams largely because of an adopted 12-sided design. This lasted until 1996. In 1997 the composition of the 1-cent piece changed from bronze to copper plated zinc. The 12 sided design was not conducive to the copper plating and so the round shape, which plated easily, was brought back.




I thanked my Canadian correspondent, replying thus:

I see that there is only a couple of millimetres difference in diameter between the 1 cent and the 5 cents, therefore the pre-empting of any potential confusion by a shape change of the 5 cents made good sense.

Of course, that now raises the question of why the 1 cent coin was made 12-sided in the first place. I would imagine 1 cent coins are little used now in Canada anyway. Here in the UK, there is again talk of demonetising the 1 penny and 2 pence coins.


I'll see if my correspondent replies to my question and post it here, if so.

Offline quaziright

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 339
Re: Past changes to the Canadian 1c and 5 cent coins
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2018, 02:07:24 PM »
1 cent was taken out of circulation in 2013. They are however deemed legal tender by the authorities with no end date to that status

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18 776
Re: Past changes to the Canadian 1c and 5 cent coins
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2018, 02:18:54 PM »
According to my Canadian correspondent:

In Canada, the 1-cent piece met its demise in 2012, little used with the practice of 'rounding' up or down (usually up). We certainly seem to be headed for a cashless society in the not too distant future.



As for the reason behind the brief change to a 12-sided 1 cent coin:

My best guess would be to save that little bit of copper used to make the coin. During the 1980's it was rumoured that we were losing a lot of 1-cent pieces that were being 'hoarded' by the US government, melted and recoined to make the American cent. The reason was as simple as the copper content of the 1-cent piece was more than 1 cents worth.

Offline quaziright

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 339
Re: Past changes to the Canadian 1c and 5 cent coins
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2018, 02:39:21 PM »
Henry Neumann would be an authority on Canadian coinage and errorcoins to speak with.