CANADIAN SILVER DOLLARS

Dollars of the Second Series (1945 - 1949)  

1945 Dollar  

Chromium plated and highly polished dies being now employed, the dollars of this series have lustre and brilliance entirely wanting in those of the first. Resumption of the dollar coinage would appear to have met with no particular enthusiasm inasmuch as only 38,391 were minted in this year. Getting specimens that are in flawless condition is a thing not too easily accomplished and its low number can only mean that it will become increasingly difficult.

Lack of demand for the coin is evidenced in the fact the St. John, Calgary, and Regina, failed to put in requests for any. Charlottetown didn't want any, but then she never does. On this particular occasion, Ottawa took the lion's share by requesting 10,300 while Winnipeg and Toronto contented themselves with 8,000 each.

Dollars of this year rank thirteenth in the series with a millesimal fineness of 799.44 and are eclipsed by the dimes, the coin which very generally holds second place.  

1946 Dollar

An increase of interest is evident with the mintage of 93,055 for 1946. All provinces except Prince Edward Island requested the dollars. To be duly noted is the fact that the mintage of this year very closely approximates that of 1938. The only large factor in the catalogue price difference lies in the 1938 being earlier in point of time and consequently with a smaller number available. Were it not for this, the two coins would theoretically sell at almost exactly the same rate. No unusual features of background are associated with this coin.

Its millesimal fineness of 799.76 puts it on a parity with the dollar of 1937 and gives it a ranking of ninth. But whereas the 1937 had last place in its year, the 1946 managed to rate first.

1947 Blunt 7  

With this particular dollar, a major variant, we arrive at something different and somewhat on the controversial side. It is out of the question for anyone to give anything like an exact figure as to the precise number of these coins. Nobody is fond of guesses, not even of good ones, and yet we are now and then forced to resort to them for want of anything better. About the only factor that has any reliability is a possible number reflected by the market price.

For some period of time the Blunt Seven sold at a price that was about one-fifth of the Pointed Seven. Accepting this situation at its full value would mean a 4 to 1 ratio between the Blunt and Pointed Seven. Such a ratio would make the Blunts 52,476 in number, a figure which seems rather high, hut which might not be too far wide of the mark. Anybody who can make a better guess is welcome to the task. I can only say that it is not as unreasonable as it appears. Further, I am not making an estimate based purely upon the market price, a point which I shall take up in connection with the Pointed Seven.

For some unaccountable reason, demand for the 1947 dollars fell off sharply. Calgary, St. John, Regina, and Vancouver, made no request for the dollars of this year. Until later times, there is no regular pattern of acceptance by the provinces and fluctuation is the rule.

Millesimal fineness of 1947 dollars is 799.99 which gives them top place for coins of that year and a ranking of fifth in the dollar series. Maple Leafs would naturally be given the same rating.  

1947 Pointed 7  

   Of the three key coins, it is my belief that the Pointed Seven has the lowest number. A number of letters have reached me, and some of them from abroad, which have helped bring me to this conclusion. Quite often a 1948 was in a collection and the Pointed Seven was wanted. With only a now and then instance, such a thing could be ignored, but repeated instances are another story. If it could be shown that both coins were sought at the same time the evidence would be conclusive, but unfortunately, such is not the case. The ratio hitherto referred to would make the Pointed Sevens 13,119 in number. Although I am unwilling to go to such an extreme, I am yet convinced that the number is something between 15,000 and 18,000. In any event, I believe that it is fully as difficult, if not more so, than the somewhat better known 1948. Time will eventually give us a better idea of the situation.

To be taken into consideration is the fact that it was some time before the scarcity of the Pointed Seven was realized. Without a known figure to represent it, much was left to the imagination. On the other hand, both the 1948 and the Maple Leaf had known figures and collectors tended to concentrate on them and to leave the Pointed Seven until a later time.  

1947 Maple Leaf

 Maple Leaf dollars are very nearly artistic enough to please the most exacting. As is well known, or should be, all Maple Leaf coins were struck in 1948 early in the year. Because the King was no longer Emperor of India the inscription on the coins had to be changed. Master dies and working punches for the 1948 pieces were not at hand until late in the year. Actually then, there were two mintages in 1948 and this is the reason for the low figure of the later coins. Maple Leafs have their distinguishing mark to show that they were struck in 1948 and not in 1947 as they are dated.  

1947 50c         Maple Leaf curved 7

All Maple Leafs are good coins to have, for even the 50 cent piece has the low figure of 38,433. The dollar is the second in rarity (numerically minted) of the key coins and is the least difficult of the three. Nevertheless, the difference is so small as to mean little or nothing and it is practically on a parity with the Pointed Seven and the 1948.  

1948 Dollar  

All 1948 denominations, especially the dollar, are eagerly sought by collectors, and this coin is in some ways the prima donna of the series. And here again we have a split mintage, clearly indicated in the 1948 Report, hut not so well indicated in the one of 1949. The split mintage came about because the Mint was rushed for time and found it necessary to put out the remaining coins in the following year. In any event, 8,080-1948 dollars were struck in the year given and the remainder of 10,700 was struck in 1949. The total of 18,780 is indeed very small and it is rather strange that these dollars did not attract attention sooner than they did.

The reading of one Mint Report is in some cases not sufficient. For example, very early in my dollar collecting career, I was informed by a prominent dealer that there had been a mistake in the 1948 figure; that it was 8,800 and with the natural result that it created a great scarcity of the dollars. It is easy enough to see how the error was made, and even though an honest one, it was still embarrassing for I so reported it and was later made to feel very foolish. Unluckily, I had only a few copies of Mint Reports at the time the incident occurred.

Really beautiful 1948 dollars are not easy to obtain although in their very early history they could now and then be found in circulation. Jack Griffin. an Ontario collector, tells about a Canadian lad who went to work in a bank and kept a sharp lookout for all dollars. Quite probably to his amazement, almost the first dollar that came in was a 1948. However, you may be sure that it did not happen again and it is something of a wonder that it ever happened at all.

Long past is the day when you can pick up any of the more difficult Canadian dollars in a bank. "ET. IND: IMP." was dropped from the inscription due to India being granted independence.

No dollars of this year were requested by Calgary, Halifax, St. John and Regina. Ottawa took 13,956 of them for a total nearly as great as all the rest put together, again an unusual situation. The millesimal fineness of 800.28 gives the 1948 second place among the dollars and it is only exceeded by the 1938.  

1949 Dollar

 Newfoundland gave occasion to the third commemorative when she became a province of the Dominion in 1949. In brilliant uncirculated, it is truly one of the most beautiful coins ever minted and it has a very interesting history which I shall give in some detail. Many of us consider it to represent more artistry than any other Canadian coin.

Let us first consider some of the history. John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) was originally a native of Genoa, Italy. Henry VII of England gave him a commission and he sailed from Bristol on May 2, 1497. After a voyage of 52 days he reached North America and landed June 24th on Cape Breton Island. He then made a brief exploration Of Newfoundland. His return voyage was uneventful and he landed in Bristol on August 6th of the same year.

One thing of decided interest to us in this affair centres about the reward that John Cabot received. Henry VII made an entry in his account book which reads as follows: To him that found the new land, 10 pounds. Of all monarchs, Henry VII was surely one of the most miserly. What Cabot thought of his reward is left to the imagination but one thing is certain: that the "new found land" eventually became Newfoundland.

Not too frequently remembered is the fact that Newfoundland is the cornerstone of the British Empire, being claimed for the Crown by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583. Her early history was troubled by the fact that the lords of authority in England fiercely opposed the idea of settlement in the new domain, a thing which now seems strange to us.

Specifically, the coin commemorates the beginning of a new phase of Newfoundland history with her entrance into the Dominion. But as must already be evident, a great deal of other history is also commemorated. It was highly appropriate that a ship design was used. Newfoundland assuredly has had much to do with ships and quite probably fewer of her people are landsmen than may be found in any other part of the world; Norway being one of her few rivals.

With regard to rank in the number minted (672,974) the Newfoundland stands third among the four Canadian commemoratives in the dollar series. Here again is a split mintage delivery that spreads over a period of three years. In 1949 the coinage was 631,500; in 1950 it was 40,718 of the 1949 (late; and in 1951 the small number of 756 also of the 1949; a thing which leads us to suppose that a special demand of some kind must have been made in the last mentioned year. As might be supposed, the first dollars that were coined went to Newfoundland.

An unique provision was made for the Newfoundland dollar in that it was to he struck as long as there was any effective demand, the (late to remain unchanged. It is sincerely to he regretted that a more effective demand did not develop for I truly believe that the coin deserved a higher figure. Had it been minted in 1959 instead of 1949, the story would doubtless have been quite a different one. As it is, the dollar apparently made its debut at the wrong time.

It was designed by Thomas Shingle and his initials appear on the right hand side. At the time he executed this fine piece of work he was Chief Engraver of the Royal Canadian Mint, a post which he accepted in 1939 and which he held for more than 10 years. He is further remembered in Canadian coinage for the Victory nickel and for the reverse of the 1959 fifty cent piece. His splendid work on the dollar of Newfoundland is a lasting memorial to his ability and will remain to honor him long after he is dead.

Under ordinary circumstances, and in practically all cases, a pantograph is used to cut the steel master die. However, Thomas Shingle cut the design by hand directly in the steel and he is one of the few men living today who is capable of doing such a thing. Needless to say, it was an extremely arduous task and the doing of this sort of thing is becoming a lost art. The Mint had no pantograph at the time the coin was designed.

Depicted on the dollar is the ship "Matthew" and under it the Latin inscription, "Floreat Terra Nova". Although the Mint Report translates this, "May Newfoundland Flourish", I do not agree. It is more correctly translated, May The New Land Flourish. The word "found" is certainly not part of the inscription. In connection with this matter, however, it is well to remember that Latin frequently permits more than one interpretation. Unlike English, it is far from being a windy language, no articles being used, and a very few words can say a great deal.

Another thing of unusual interest about the coin is to be noted in the use of reverse and obverse dies. In practically all instances it will be found that the Mint concentrates on obverses and lets the reverses more or less take care of themselves. Such is far from being the situation in this case. As compared to the obverses, almost twice as many reverses were employed, the number of the first being 48 and the latter 94 Further, the number of pieces per pair of dies is only 8,894 and this is an extremely low figure.

Since the reverse had a wealth of fine detail it was considered foolish to take any chances on so fine a coin and no chances were taken. Reverses were changed frequently enough to make excellent results absolutely certain. It must be admitted that the Mint succeeded brilliantly. It is my belief that there is no such thing as a poorly struck Newfoundland dollar.

Because of its fairly high number, it has had a certain amount of circulation. In June of 1959 I had particular need for a Newfoundland dollar because I had promised the Evening Telegram of St. John's an article on their commemorative. None were to be had from local dealers at the time and I was reluctant to use one from my collection. To my utter astonishment a beautiful specimen turned up in a big market and was saved for me by a lady who knew I was interested in Canadian coins. Nor do I consider my experience unique for many collectors can tell equally interesting stories. It is things of this kind which make coin collecting an endless source of fascination.

Although at one time I considered otherwise, I am now aware that Newfoundland was probably unable to put in an official request for her particular coin. Things may change in the future, but at this time Ottawa acts for St. John's whenever dollars are requested and the same is true of Charlottetown. This being the situation, the Newfoundland coins first sent to the new province were sent to chartered banks and the number must have been rather small. Her first request for dollars was made in 1951.

In the beginning at least, Newfoundland lacked enthusiasm for the Dominion, and although many are unaware of it, came in by only a small margin of votes. "Canada, Tomorrow's Giant," a book written by Bruce Hutchins, editor of the Victoria Times, is a source which gives us some idea of the difficulties which arose from divergent opinions.

For one thing, a surprising number of Newfoundland citizens favored casting in their lot with the United States. What might have come out of this, had such a point been reached, nobody knows. Mr. Hutchins talked to more than a few severely disgruntled people who were anything but enthusiastic and full of complaints. He thinks, as do most of us, that the unfavorable sentiment will disappear in time. What I have in mind is the obvious fact that a partially embroiled citizenry would not give the new coin the reception that it might otherwise have had.

Millesimal fineness of the dollar is 800.26 which gives it third place in the series. It may be observed at this point that only three dollars have so far topped the 800 standard. And in a total of 19 issues, the dollars have headed the list 13 times.

With 1949 the Mint Report of the year includes the "sundry persons" item for the first time in listing the distribution of coins. The item is important because it shows the growing interest in Canadian coinage and because for the first time people were buying coins directly from the Mint. We may safely assume that the $4,340.00 listed under this head went almost entirely toward the purchase of dollars.

If it seems that I have spent a good deal of time on this dollar, and certainly I have, then it has only been because I think it deserving of more than usual attention. A small number of collectors interest themselves in ship design coins, the writer being one of them, and the Newfoundland dollar has a very honorable status in this category. It assuredly does much to brighten the Canadian dollar series. Naturally enough, a commemorative always commands more interest than a routine dollar because it always has some historical background.  

1950 Dollar

Except for one thing, this particular Voyageur has nothing of note about it. But it does represent the beginning of the variants and they will he discussed as a group. For one thing, the dollar of this year was overshadowed by the nickel commemorative designed by Stephen Trenka and a good deal of the Mint Report is devoted to this coin.

In point of millesimal fineness it is exactly 800 and ranks fourth in the series with the 1939. Further, it is the last coin to have this rating since all the others are slightly below it in this respect. It was requested by all provinces except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. And the sundry persons item shows further increase by going to a 6,213 figure, an indication of more interest.  

1951 Dollar

 It is rather remarkable that Toronto took practically half the dollar coinage of this year with a request for 194,000 pieces of the 420,620 that were minted. Newfoundland made her first dollar request and received 4,000 pieces. It may be further noted that the mintage of these coins increased more than 100,000 over the previous year and indicates there was more demand.

Millesimal fineness of the dollar is 799.88 which rates it above the other coins of the year. It has exactly the same fineness as the 1952 dollar and ranks eighth in the series. The sundry persons item shows a decided increase by going to 9,323, a figure which is better than that of the previous year.  

1952 Dollar Water Lines

No Waterlines          Enlarged — No Waterlines

 Although its exact number is not known, and never will be, this dollar is in a class by itself which lacks water lines and must be considered as a major variant. All other variants are concerned with water limb of some sort, but this one has none at all. Further than this, it has a fairly large number whereas the others have generally very small ones.

We are assured that the lines were by accident polished out of existence and there is no reason to doubt this. It is a certain thing that the Mint never intends to put out anything except perfect coins; that is, as far as it is possible to do so. Overlooking the minor variants is a thing easy enough to understand, but it is not so easy in this instance. It would surely seem that the inspection service would notice the lack of lines almost immediately. If so, then the lack of proper water lines was ignored.

If the market price has any meaning, and certainly it has some, then approximately 1/4 of the 1952 dollars have no water lines and this would make 102,210 of them. Those which have no water lines have a catalogue value of slightly more than three times those which do.

Let us now consider another factor. In striking the coinage, 58 reverses were employed and the average per pair of dies is given as 5,971. If we consider 14 reverses, or about 1/4 of 58 as being used, and multiply the average and reverses, we then come up with the figure of 93,591, and this is very nearly the figure which-is required. According to this, something like 14 or 15 dies had their water lines polished out. It will be remembered by collectors of this series that it was some little time before there was any marked difference in price between the two varieties. Had there been a very great number disparity, then it must be obvious that it would have been noticed in fairly short order.

As noted before, one reverse could only account for 5,971 coins, and it is impossible to suppose that a single reverse could be used for around 100,000 dollars. The reader is perfectly free to reject all of my reasoning on this point. I am not wholly satisfied with the submitted figure, but it is the hest that I am able to do. The "of both kinds" figure leaves much to the imagination.  

1953 Dollar

   We now come to the third largest coinage (1,087,265) with the beginning of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Many interesting things centre about this coin and they will be considered in some detail. For one thing, we now have a new obverse designer.

Mary Gillick executed the laureated figure of the Queen and few indeed will deny that she did beautiful work. Mrs. Gillick has studied Greek and Roman coins and their influence is evident in a likeness which is assuredly classical in nature. Most remarkable is the fact that she was seventy-two at the time she did this fine piece of work and it was her first venture of the kind. She also informs me that it will be her last, I was naturally sorry to hear this. However, I submit that the obverse which she executed will stand comparison with the finest done by other English artists and I think my enthusiasm for it is shared by many others.

Not without difficulty was the new obverse finally brought to the desired degree of perfection. The first dies were slightly higher in relief than the 1952 dies of King George VI and small technical imperfections appeared in the reduction punch that were not apparent in the large plaster model. As a result of this, coins struck from the first dies suffered materially in reproduction and gave rise to great difficulties from the mechanical point of view. To correct the die, it proved necessary for the Mint Engraver to lower the relief to 3/4 and strengthen the weaker parts of the design by hand on the intermediate steel reduction. This being finally accomplished, it was then possible to produce well executed coins.  

with shoulder strap  without shoulder strap

1953 Dollar — Enlarged 

                 As a result of the trouble which was experienced, the only obverse dollar variant came into existence. Dollars struck from the first dies shows Her Majesty without any shoulder straps and her hair detail is not shown as it should be. And there are also transition coins between the very first and the later executed dollars.

Wire edge Flat edge

1953 Dollar

 One thing that came out of the situation was a change from the wire edge to the flat edge dollars. Experimentation proved the latter to be preferred because it ensured longer die life and also a better looking coin. All the earlier dollars, perhaps two-thirds, are of the wire edge kind and it is on these dollars that the "no strap" variants were struck. As far as I am now aware, the flat edge dollars are all perfectly executed coins. It should be noted here that flat edges were also given to the other silver denominations.

Millesimal fineness of the 1953 is 799.98 which gives it first place in coins of the year and sixth in the series. The 1936 dollar has the same fineness. As might be expected with a coin of the Coronation year, interest went up considerably. For example, the sundry persons item went to the figure of 22,715. Beyond doubt, many of the people represented in the figure given made purchases of sets and single dollars to mark the year. This seems proved by the fact that 1954 shows a falling off, which is quite to be expected.

One small puzzle is the fact that P.E.I. made no request for the 1953 dollars while all the other provinces did. I finally reached the conclusion, after giving the matter some thought, that she did make a belated request. Why? Because the 1954 Report indicates 4,000 as going to Charlottetown, the only time this has happened so far. Although I cannot very well prove it, it is nevertheless my belief that the coins which went there were 1953 dollars. This would easily be possible because the Mint always has a small carryover of coins which would make a thing like this simple enough. Moreover, this small number could readily be struck if occasion required. It is impossible to convince me that a sudden strange interest would be shown in the dollars of 1954 to the detriment of those put out in the year that Her Majesty was crowned.  

1954 Dollar

 Dollars of this particular year have nothing of unusual note. Demand for them was not very great as evidenced by the 242,815 figure. However, it is the only year. so far in which all of the provinces made requests for dollars. Previous mention has been made of the fact that Charlottetown probably requested the coins of 1953 instead of those credited to this year. For what it may he worth, the smallest number yet requested came in this year with only 1,000 being asked for by St. John, New Brunswick. The sundry persons item maintains itself very well with 8,694 and a steady climb upward from this year begins to be very much in evidence. In fact, it is possible for us to note this year as the beginning one which marked the phenomenal increase of interest in Canadian dollars.

With regard to millesimal fineness, the dollar of this year ranks eleventh in the series with 799.63 although it topped its sister coins of the same year by ranking first. 

1955 Dollar - Normal  

 We shall only he concerned here with the normal type and its issue of 274,810. Although the regular dollars achieved no distinction, the variant earned a name for itself. One thing to be noted is the small number of reverses that were used and in this respect it has a close relationship to the dollar of the previous year. The 1954 used 15 reverses for a die average of 14,092. The 1955 used 11 reverses for a die average of 14,338. yet 1954 has no variant and 1955 does. The sudden increase in die use is something of a puzzle but we may be sure that it arose from a legitimate situation of some kind. Sundry persons shows another increase to 11,802.

Another striking similarity is shown in a millesimal fineness which makes them nearly identical. There is a difference of only one point since the 1955 is 799.64 and this gives it a rank of tenth in the series and first place in the coins of its year.  

1956 Dollar

From the appearance of things, it would seem as though the Mint suddenly decided to use more (lies and thus avoid possible variants. Although there was a sharp decrease in the mintage, only 209,092 being minted, yet the number of both obverses and reverses was more than doubled. As a result of this, the average per pair of dies fell to the low figure of 5,227. And although public demand of the general sort must have fallen off collector demand showed an other increase. This seems to be evident because sundry persons went to a higher level with a figure of 15,172. We may take it for granted that people who buy coins directly from the Mint are almost entirely dealers and collectors. Of course, such a situation would not be true of 1953 and its much higher figure. That particular year may be regarded as out of the ordinary.

With regard to millesimal fineness, the dollar of this year took second place and lost out to the half dollar which was 10 points better. It may be observed that the half is nearly always at the bottom of the list. The dollar fineness is 799.89 and it ranks seventh in the series.  

1957 Dollar - Normal  

 It is hardly a matter for surprise that variants made their appearance with this dollar. Although the mintage went up to nearly a half million (496,389) the die usage went down in startling degree. Only 12 obverses were employed and 6 reverses. The pair average soars above all the others to 55,154. Only one mintage, that of 1958, even comes close to this average. Why this happened is a mystery which I am unable to fathom. There is a great gulf between it and the figure of 1946, the lowest of all, with its die average of 2,215. We must suppose that chromium plated dies were used for 1957 and 1958.

This dollar has the dubious distinction of being at the bottom of the list in more ways than one. It ranks last and fifteenth in the series for fineness and is topped by all the coins of its year. Its millesimal fineness is 798.95 and the half takes first place.

1958 Dollar

 

 

Of all Canadian dollars that have been minted, the Totem Pole coin has created the most history numismatically and has attracted the most public attention. The more I consider this, the more am I amazed for it makes no logical sense. However, the human race is not governed by logic and quite probably never will be. After all, a world of mythology is ever so much more comfortable; who of us would not like to live with Alice in Wonderland?

It has enjoyed publicity that none of the other dollars ever had and is already on the way to becoming a legend. Those who see it for the first time may be pardoned for wondering why this could be true, but to understand it, they would have to know a great many things. I shall duly set forth a few of the many things.

I have stated that it had unusual publicity and such is the case. A picture of it appeared in the Spokesman-Review, the leading paper of Spokane, Washington, together with accurate information concerning it. There is no doubt that it received similar attention in other papers, a thing which helped it off to a flying start. As a sober matter of fact, it now seems hardly to have needed any, getting under way as it did by virtue of its own power.

A well known chain store in British Columbia used the dollars for publicity when they first came out and with telling effect. Naturally enough, the novelty finally wore off but the effect remained. Radio stations in the province also took up the dollar cause, and it is to be hoped, spoke kindly of it. Whether or not spoken of kindly, it would hardly have made any difference. As it later developed, unfavorable publicity, far from doing the coin any harm, actually did it a world of good, possibly to the lasting disgust of its detractors.

If the Newfoundland commemorative is one of the most beautiful of all coins, which it certainly is, then it must be candidly admitted that the British Columbia commemorative is one of the very ugliest. It is truly so ugly as to be fascinating, and in a way charms one, very much in the manner that a snake is supposed to be able to charm a bird. It is for a fact an ugly duckling, but even as the ugly duckling had good fortune, so also did this coin, and all of us who collect Canadian dollars share in this. It is my honest opinion that it has done more in the way of publicity for the dollars than all the rest of them put together. This being the case, we owe Stephen Trenka, its designer, an everlasting debt of gratitude.

In only two provinces of the Dominion are totem poles to be seen: British Columbia and Alberta, the great majority of them in the former, therefore, the choice of subject was a good one. A totem pole is a kind of family tree. God truly knows that I am no authority on them, and I think that I should hardly care to be. Anybody who can see poetry in a totem pole has more imagination than I am able to claim, but whatever we may think of them, they do express symbolism, and they do have meaning to the Indians. This is the reason why the term "death money" became attached to the coins from the very first. 

 Stephen Trenka made use of the raven and it appears at the top of the pole. In our own folklore, as apparently with the Indians, ravens are not the most popular of birds for they represent evil, misfortune, and death. According to Norse mythology, Odin had a pair of these enterprising birds who flew around all over the world and brought him news from every corner of it. Whereas they may have done Odin some good, they are much more inclined to do good strictly for themselves.

Our Teutonic ancestors gloomily noted the fact that they followed battles and helped themselves to the fare so thoughtfully provided by human folly. It was further noted that other birds did not do this, thus the raven is the symbol of evil.

As for the story that Indians would not touch the coins, I am inclined towards skepticism. No doubt it would be true of the older generation; it is the younger that I am skeptical about. Associated with whites very long, they soon adopt many of our attitudes.

Owing to its universality, the raven theme, or better legend, does make a good subject. For those who are eternally chasing the elusive dollar, the raven sticks out his tongue in sardonic mockery. Such is the story. The totem pole is not any particular one; it is a composite.

Reference has been made to the fact that the dollar has become something of a legend. Any number of curious stories centre about it and many are convinced that it will one of these (lays be valuable. Naturally enough, the people who believe these strange tales are not coin collectors. There are several reasons for the situation.

To begin with, quite a few who don't collect are convinced that it is the first Canadian dollar. They believe this because it happened to be the first to come to their attention. This situation is far more common south of the border than north of it for there must now be very few Canadians who are unaware of the dollar.

Secondly, we must consider the unusual design. Many people seem to think that an odd looking coin must he one of decided value. It does no good to inform them that 3,039,564 of them were minted and that consequently they can never get in the rare category. The person who explains the situation in this manner is frequently enough pitied for his ignorance. I can testify to this from personal experience.

Thirdly, we must consider the very human tendency to believe what we wish to believe. An untold multitude of these coins are held as souvenirs by people who firmly believe in their value and they will hardly thank the person who attempts to persuade them to the contrary.

An odd fourth factor has played a part in the situation. A Detroit bank informs me that when the coin first came out it attracted no unusual attention. However, a local newspaper devoted some space to an article wherein was contained the agonized outcries of some Ontario citizens who declared the coin so ugly as to be a disgrace to the Dominion. This adverse criticism helped the piece more than can be imagined. Curiosity being stirred up, Detroit banks found themselves doing a brisk business, brisk enough to make them ask Windsor banks for more dollars which had to be obtained from Ottawa. As far as I am aware, British Columbia never objected to the coin.

You would have a hard time convincing the people of Bellingham, Washington, that the dollar is a rarity for it circulated there in such degree as finally to attract no attention. Banks in Seattle sold them to some citizens 100 at a time to be given away as keepsakes and souvenirs.

Not only does the British Columbia coin commemorate the centennial, it also commemorates the gold rush of 1859. By odd contrast, the same year saw a silver rush from California to the Comstock Lode in Nevada. As might be expected, the gold rush brought in a number of people who became permanent settlers in the province.

On thing that astonished many of us was the unprecedented size of the coinage. I thought my own estimate of 2,000,000 large and it fell far short of the mark. British Columbia received the largest number ever given a province, so many that it put her in second place for the total number received since coinage of the dollars began. Her allotment of 1,315,000 was more than the combined total of Ontario and Quebec. Neither Prince Edward Island nor Newfoundland requested any of the coins. Sundry persons went to a new high level with a figure of 33,237.  

1951 Commemorative Nickel

 Stephen Trenka's initials appear on the dollar at the bottom of the totem pole. His other Canadian coin, the commemorative nickel, was designed in 1951, and it is also a fine piece of work.

Souvenir hunters had a field day with this coin and it is now scattered all over the United States. There is every reason to suppose that at least a few of these people will become sufficiently curious to look further into the matter and eventually become genuine collectors.

Millesimal fineness of the dollar is 799.51 which gives it second place in the coins of the year and twelfth place in the series. No variants of any kind have so far been reported.  

1959 Dollar

   

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Changes last made on: 01/14/07


The entire contents of  "Canadian Silver Dollars" are ©Copyright 1961. Permission is granted to non-profit organizations and to individuals for their personal use, to copy any of the material contained herein, on the condition that such copies are not to be sold or otherwise used for profit, and that Patrick Glassford is shown as the source of such information or material.
The Canadian Error Coins website (est. in 1997 by Patrick Glassford) is a division of the Canadian Numismatic Publishing Institute, established in 1958 by Somer James, publisher of many fine Canadian numismatic publications such as "A GUIDE BOOK OF CANADIAN COINS, CURRENCY & TOKENS" and "CANADIAN SILVER DOLLARS" by Starr Gilmore.

The Canadian Numismatic Publishing Institute (CNPI), and all its existing copyrights,
are the sole property of Patrick Glassford.