Some of the rarest Canadian coins are those that were produced by accident and feature a minor error. Others are collector coins produced in short runs. Still others are made of precious metals like gold or silver and are rare because they have not been melted down for their metal value. Whether you're holding onto an early Canadian penny and wondering about its value or are an established collector, there's lots to learn about the rare coins of Canada.
Six of the Rarest Canadian Coins
Serious coin collectors search high and low for certain coins, sometimes paying top dollar to acquire an example for their collection. Although there are a number of factors that contribute to a coin's value, rarity is among the most important. The following coins are some of the least common.
1936 Canadian "Dot" Penny
At a 2010 auction, a Canadian penny made headlines for fetching more than $400,000 USD. The reason for this high price tag was rarity. Only three such pennies are known to exist. What makes the penny special is that beneath the date, there is a tiny dot. This dot indicates that the penny was actually made in 1937, rather than 1936. You can see an image of the penny and a close-up of the dot at CoinLink.
1953 "Shoulder Fold" Penny
The Canadian penny was redesigned in 1953 with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, and the first design for the obverse, or backside, of the coin featured a fold in the queen's gown. When this design was used for the minting, it turned out the relief was too extreme and caused problems with equipment and quality. The obverse of the coin was redone later in 1953 to eliminate the shoulder fold, which made the original design very rare. To see an example of this coin, visit Coins and Canada.
Canadian Silver Nickel - Any Year
Prior to 1922, Canadian nickels were made of "coin silver" (800 parts silver) or sterling silver (925 parts silver). The last of these coins were minted in 1921. Because of their high silver content, people have melted many of the coins over the years. Now they are extremely rare. These coins are regularly faked, so it's very important that you have a coin appraised before purchasing it.
1936 Canadian "Dot" Dime
Fetching $184,000 at the same auction as the Canadian "dot" penny, the "dot" dime of 1936 is another great collector's coin. This dime was actually produced in 1937, and the dot was added to the 1936 design. Very few of these coins exist, perhaps only five. The dot appears at the very bottom of the dime, as you can see in the image on Heritage Auctions.
1921 50-Cent Piece
Known as the "king of Canadian coins," this 50-cent piece is so rare that there may only be about 50-100 in circulation. A large number of these coins were minted in 1921, but very few entered circulation. The vast majority of them were melted down to create the later versions of the 50-cent piece. The remaining coins are so rare that in 2010, one fetched $218,500 at auction. You can see an image of this coin on Flickr.
Victoria 50-Cent Piece in Near-Mint Condition
Although a number of these 50-cent pieces, featuring Queen Victoria, were minted in the late 19th century, very few survived in mint or near-mint condition. These pristine examples now fetch high prices at auction. Two such coins were sold for $120,000 to $150,000 each at the same auction as the "dot" penny and "dot" dime. You can see an example of a Victoria 50-cent piece as Numista.com.
Where to Buy Rare Canadian Coins
If you're looking for Canadian coins online, the following sites sell rare examples:
- 2 Clicks Coins - This site has a collector coin classified section, where you can find many rare coins, including silver dimes and quarters. It also offers detailed information and photos of other rare coins.
- Provident Metals - This shop sells rare coins from all over the world as well as Canadian silver coins.
- CoinMart - This is another source for coins from around the world and in Canada. The selection is constantly changing.
Tips for Collecting
Coin collecting can be fun, but it's also an investment. Making smart choices are which coins you want and how much you're willing to pay is very important. Keep the following tips in mind when collecting Canadian coins:
- It often takes an expert to spot a fake or counterfeit coin. If you're considering something very rare or valuable, have it professionally appraised.
- Learn as much as you can before you start buying. My Coin Collecting and offers great information for a beginning collector.
- Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Because the above coins are especially rare, you're not likely to run into them on auction sites.
Thrill of the Hunt
Whether you're just starting your Canadian coin collection or are going after one of the coveted coins mentioned above, you'll enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Researching and tracking down these rare coins is almost as satisfying as adding them to your collection.