February 23, 2020

Rare Canadian coins are some of the most valuable in the world, making them not only enjoyable to collect, but a prime investment. But what makes a Canadian coin rare, and how can you tell?

Collecting, uncovering and selling rare Canadian coins is an art form, and the experts at Muzeum are here to help guide you whether you are looking to buy or sell old Canadian coins.

We know that determining the value of your coins can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not an expert. The team of precious-metals specialists at Muzeum offer a keen eye and deep knowledge of coin value to better serve our customers looking to get a healthy return on their Canadian coin collection.

The value of Canadian coins ultimately depends on a combination of how rare the item is, how many were minted, its variation or type, and its condition and age.

At Muzeum, we are constantly interested in purchasing Canadian coins.If you're looking to sell silver coins in Toronto, we will ensure you get the fairest price.

We know that collecting Canadian coins and determining their value can be a big undertaking, which is why we’ve put together a helpful guide on what makes coins rare, the rare Canadian coins to look out for, and how you can spot them.

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Rare Designs

One way to spot rare Canadian coins worth money is to look for any unique design that may signify their originality and rarity. When we think of rare designs, the two designs that come to mind are the maple leaf and the dot; two designs sported on a couple of rare Canadian coins with minimal circulation.

Leaf It Be

If there’s any iconic symbol to represent Canada, it’s the maple leaf. This image is imprinted on the 1 oz Gold Maple Leaf coin, first issued in 1979.

These pieces are regarded as legal tender in Canada and carry a face value of $50. They are composed of 99.99% pure gold, so the value greatly exceeds the face value. At the current market, a 1 oz gold coin is worth $2000+

Not a far cry away from many Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) pieces, the obverse of the 1 oz Gold Maple features a right-profile view of Queen Elizabeth II designed by artist Susanna Blunt, accompanied by the inscriptions of “ELIZABETH II,” “50 DOLLARS,” and “2020.”

A minuscule textured maple leaf, a security measure from the RCM, is just visible under the larger one. The coin’s year of issue can be found on the small leaf under magnification, and the engravings “CANADA,” “FINE GOLD 1 OZ OR PUR,” and “9999” are also found on the reverse.

In 2007, the RCM produced a million-dollar coin (the first of its kind) to promote this line of 99.99% pure 1 oz Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins. Guinness World Record certified the dubbed Million Dollar Coin as the world's largest coin, but the title later went to the Australian Mint’s version of the piece.

Several interested buyers came forward, so the Mint opted to make a limited quantity of the 3,215 troy ounce gold bullion coins. About 5 were available for sale, one of which was bought by Queen Elizabeth II.

1947 Maple Leaf Silver Dollar

Another rare coin sporting a maple leaf is the 1947 Maple Leaf Silver Dollar, which has a tiny maple leaf imprinted next to its date (which was minted in 1948)

The RCM had been waiting for the new die to strike the newly minted 1948 coins, so it ended up using 1947 dies to strike the pieces needed to meet the current demand. 

So, a tiny maple leaf was imprinted to signify the pieces struck in 1948 and differentiate them from the 1947 pieces. These pieces have a current listed mintage of 21,135, but because it is a rare silver dollar, these pieces, depending on their grade, often go for a value of anywhere between $300 and $10,000 when auctioned off. 

The Dot

Another design found on some rare Canadian coins is the “dot.” For example, the Canadian “dot” dimes produced in 1937, with the dot being added to the original 1936 coin, are currently going for $184,000 in auctions.

The rarity of this piece comes not only from its design but its circulation, as it’s believed that only five currently exist. As a result, these pieces boast a current value of between $144,500 and $245,000. Similarly, there is also a Canadian dot penny that holds high value.

Canadian Pennies

Speaking of pennies, when the government took pennies out of circulation, Canadians had to bring their pennies to their bank. This request was so the metals could be recycled and help end the circulation of these pieces in day-to-day exchanges. The last Canadian pennies were struck on May 4th, 2012, at the RCM.

Nowadays, you may not be able to spend pennies, but banks are still taking them. Before you take your old pennies to the bank, though, you may want to consider the value of the old Canadian coins. There are a handful of rare Canadian pennies that are worth, well, a pretty penny. 

If you have any of these pennies, hold on to them and get them appraised to determine the profit you can expect. You may just have some coins worth money.

1936: The Canadian "Dot" Penny

The 1936 penny marked with, you guessed it, a tiny dot, made headlines in 2010 when it sold for more than$400,000 USD at an auction. The tiny dot indicates that these pennies weren't made in 1936, but in 1937. 

The value of old Canadian coins often comes from rarity, and the high price tag for this coin is a result of just that - only 3 of these pennies exist.

1953: The Shoulder Fold Penny

The Shoulder Fold ((SF)Canadian penny was first designed with the backside showing the Queen's gown with a fold in it. The complex design of the coin, however, caused minting challenges. 

The coin was redesigned later in 1953, making the original coin rare and valuable as a result. In fact, these pieces have sold for $2000 CAD at auctions.

1955: The No Shoulder Fold Penny 

If you think the shoulder fold pennies are impressive, consider the no shoulder fold (NSF)pennies. These pennies were minted after the 1953 pennies and are some of the rarest Canadian pennies.

Because some of these pennies have been struck with older design dies, they have sold for up to $5,500 CAD at auctions.

1923: The Small 1-Cent

From 1858 to 1920, the RCM minted large one cent coins. After 1920, they were replaced with a smaller cent coin. The small cent minted in 1923 is considered one of the rarest Canadian coins as one can sell for anywhere between $25.00 to $3,374 CAD.

1925: Another Small 1-Cent

1925 1-cent coins are the rarest Canadian pennies as they are the fewest that have been minted. Uncirculated pieces have sold for upwards of $3374 CAD.

2012: The Silver Farewell Penny

TheCurrency Museum of the Bank of Canada in Ottawa is currently home to the last penny ever produced for Canadian circulation, but the RCM also produced some 2012 Farwell 1-cent coins to commemorate the discontinuation of these pieces. 

Rare Canadian Pennies

Additional rare Canadian pennies valued from $10 - thousands of dollars (condition dependant) include: 

  • 1921 pennies
  • 1922 pennies
  • 1924 pennies
  • 1926 pennies

Canadian 50-Cent Pieces

1921 50-Cent Piece

The 1921 50-cent coin, dubbed the “King of Canadian Coins,” is a particularly rare Canadian coin. This is because, after being minted in 1921, few were circulated. In fact, there is believed to be only 50-100 in circulation, and most of them were melted down to create future versions of the 50-cent coin.

The pieces currently in circulation are considered so rare that people are willing to spend a hefty amount to add one to their collection. Uncirculated 50-cent pieces from this year boast are valued from $104,500 to $335,400 CAD, one of which sold at a 2010 auction for a whopping $218,500 

Victoria 50-Cent Piece

Another rare 50-cent coin is the 50-cent piece starring Queen Victoria. These pieces were minted in the late 1900s, and few made it through circulation anywhere close to mint condition. Nowadays, an 1899 Victoria 50-cent coin in near-mint condition can sell upwards of $50,150 CAD at auctions. 

Pre 1922 Silver Nickels

Nickels made before 1922 were made of either coin silver or sterling silver. This means they would be respectively 800 parts silver, or 925 parts silver. These were last minted in 1921, and nickels haven’t been made with these valuable silver materials since. 

Nowadays, because most people melted these pieces due to their high silver content, these silver nickels are particularly rare. Unfortunately, these pieces are often faked, so if you think you have a pre-1922 silver nickel coin worth money, consider getting it evaluated to confirm its validity.

Royal Canadian Mint Coins

The Royal Canadian Mint’s gold coins are also valuable Canadian coins worth money that you would be likely to find in your collection. Featuring everything from Canada’s fauna to historical events and the iconic maple leaf, their value can be head-turning!

Rare Royal Canadian Mint coins to look out for include:

Reimagined 1905 Arms of Dominion of Canada

The pure-gold 1-kg coin dubbed “Reimagined 1905 Arms of Dominion of Canada”, with only 25 minted, can cost around $83,000 each. Imagine if you held onto that piece just how valuable it may be down the road.

99.999% Pure Gold Fractional Set

The RCM’s 99.999% Pure Gold Fractional Set featuring a full hologram on its backside is one of the first of its kind. Currently, these pieces are valued at a baseline of $4,400 each.

1921 Silver 5-Cents

In 1921, the RCM melted down all its silver 5 cent coins in preparation of introducing its new 5 cent coin made of nickel for 1922 circulation. Almost all the melted inventory were 1921 coins, and only 400 silver 5-cent coins are thought to have survived this purge. Today, these pieces can sell anywhere between $2,261 and $67,082 CAD at auctions.

Olympic Metals

Olympics fever touches even the most sceptical sports fan, but it also reaches out to folks collecting Canadian coins. Canadians were treated to not just a mid-70s Olympics, but also the 1976 Montreal Olympics commemorative pieces, available at 14 or 22 karats.

The 14K coin is 27 millimetres in diameter, weighs 13.3375 grams and features a raised, beaded edge around its circumference. It contains 7.775 grams of gold, so to calculate the value of the Canadian coins, just multiply the current spot price of gold and multiply that number by 7.775. It’s also the equivalent of 0.25 oz of fine gold.

The 22K 1976 Olympic gold coin features a raised, beaded edge and boasts 15.55 grams of gold. This is the equivalent of 0.5 oz of fine gold

Also, in demand are the $10 and $5 Olympic pieces from 1976 that are made of sterling silver. Their value is equal to the amount of silver they contain multiplied by the current value of silver. These were never circulated but were made available for collectors. The $10 Olympic coin is 48.6 grams of sterling silver – which Muzeum would purchase at around $35 a coin (with the current spot price of silver at $30/troy oz Canadian). You can expect half of this for a $5 coin ($17.50 for 24.3 grams of sterling silver).

Making Sense of Centennials

Centennial Gold Coins, issued in 1967, can also fetch a pretty penny in their gold value. We’ve seen collectors offer these pieces that commemorate the centennial of Canadian confederation at a price hovering around the $1,100 mark, so dig through your collection to determine if you got one of these beauties hiding away.

We have also seen Centennial Coin sets, which include both silver and gold pieces, with the metal weight for the set at 0.5288 troy ounces of gold, and 1.11 troy ounces of silver. Often these sets are protected by cases outfitted with a felt bottom to better protect and safeguard the coins.

Uncirculated Canadian Coins

Uncirculated coins are also attractive to those collecting Canadian coins. This type of coin often falls into one of several categories: a coin that was released to the public but not made for general circulation or is available from mints or local coin dealers. 

This means they haven't been touched or handled by hands without using a protective barrier, such as a frame, case, or gloves. This is one factor that greatly increases rare coin values. Also, an uncirculated coin could be one that has been officially graded by a reputable business with a grade of Mint State (MS) 60+.

The value of Canadian coins is also based on the process by which a coin is made. The U.S. Mint, for one, makes specific adjustments to their minting process when creating uncirculated pieces, which creates a more satin-like finish. For example, a 1948 10-cent coin earned the seller $150, while a 1938 Silver Dollar received a pay-out of $850.

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