by J.C. Levesque
Reprinted from The CN Journal October 1982 pg 430
Early Canadian numismatists mostly concentrated their efforts on the collection and study of pre-confederation coins and tokens. Very few paid any particular attention to the decimal series - most were content with having a type set. A collection by date and mintmark was virtually unheard of, which accounts for the fact that so many of Canada's early decimal coins are so elusive in Uncirculated condition to-day. After the First World War, collectors gradually shifted their attention to the decimal series. This presented a problem, because there had been no significant literature published to show which coins were scarce and which were common.
A milestone was reached in 1939 when Wayte Raymond published a catalogue entitled The Coins and Tokens of Canada. Listed were the mintage figures of the various Canadian issues, along with a value assigned to each coin. For the first time, collectors were given a general guide to work with in acquiring coins for their collections. Two subsequent editions of Mr. Raymond's catalogue were published in 1947 and 1952. However, a more detailed study of Canada's decimal series was presented in Fred Bowman's article published in the March 1947 issue of The Numismatist (this article was later reprinted in booklet form). Entitled The Decimal Coinage of Canada and Newfoundland, this scholarly work set the stage for the serious study and classification of Canadian decimal coins. In 1952, James E. Charlton (Canada Coin Exchange) introduced the first edition of his Catalogue of Canadian Coins, Tokens & Fractional Currency. This guide proved to be very popular; so much so that it has been published every year (except 1954) to this very day. From the late 1950s, many other important catalogues of Canadian coins have appeared; the most significant being Coins of Canada by J.A. Haxby and R.C. Willey.
Mintage figures for Canadian and Newfoundland coins are largely based on official Royal Mint reports, which were first published in 1870. Beginning with the 1884 Fifteenth Annual Report of the Deputy Master of the Mint, technical statistics were recorded concerning the minting of various colonial coinages struck under con-tract at the Royal Mint in London. The publishing of such detailed information on Canadian coins was discontinued after 1907 when Canada's coinage production was transferred from London to Ottawa. Statistics on Newfoundland coins were recorded until 1912.
This article will not only review the mintages of Canadian and Newfoundland coins for the period covered but, equally important, will compile the numbers of obverse and reverse dies used to strike each issue. This has apparently never been done, except for a table covering the years 1938 to 1960 showing the "Numbers of Dies Used in Operative Department of the Royal Canadian Mint", compiled by J.M. Milne and Published in the May 1962 issue of The Canadian Numismatic Journal. Such data is a very useful tool to the serious numismatic researcher in recording die varieties, establishing relative scarcity ratings, etc.
The figures compiled in this article are taken from tables published in annual reports of the Royal Mint. These show the "number of pieces coined'" "number of dies used", "number of pieces struck per pair of dies" and the number of "good coins struck". A brief interpretation of each of these four categories is presented below. When a particular coinage was struck under contract at the "Heaton Mint", usually only the number of good coins struck was recorded in the Royal Mint reports. Where discrepancies exist (indicated by an asterisk*), comments and clarifications regarding specific issues will be made at the end of the article.
I - NUMBER OF PIECES COINED: This figure represents the total number of coins of a particular denomination struck during a given year. However, it does not necessarily imply that all coins struck during a certain year actually bore that year's date. Around the mid to late 1800s, the Royal Mint often found it more economically feasible to make use of all sound Colonial coinage dies even though they bore the previous year's date. This practice, however, did not apply to the Imperial coinages since Thomas Graham (Master of the Mint from April 27, 1856 until his death on September 16, 1869) directed that all dated dies, regardless of their condition, be retired at the close of the coining year. This assured that the date on a British coin was that of the year of striking. Nevertheless, the Colonial coinage dies were exempt from this regulation and therefore, instances occurred when a particularly large order for coins from a Colonial government could not be completed during the course of the year. Thus, the remaining number of coins needed to fill the order had to be struck during the following year, making use of all good dies which had been previously prepared and dated in the year of manufacture. A good example of such an incident is the 1889 ten-cent piece (see my article in the July/August 1978 issue of The Canadian Numismatic Journal). The number of pieces coined represents the total number of coins struck, including those which were later rejected and melted.
2 - NUMBER OF DIES USED: These figures indicate the number of obverse and reverse dies used to strike a particular denomination during a given year. As mentioned above, instances occurred when some dies used in the course of a year may have been manufactured and dated the previous year. It was also common practice in some years (mostly in the 1800s) to reprocess selected worn dies which had lost their sharpness of detail but were still otherwise sound. Such dies were softened, resunk and again prepared for coining. They were counted along with the new dies and included among the "number of dies used" for the year. Therefore, it is easily possible for a die (more likely an obverse die) to have been used to strike coins during one year and after being refinished, used again the following year. However, it is unlikely that such dies were in service for more than two years, since the refinishing process greatly reduced the die's life, making it much more susceptible to developing cracks which would eventually render it unfit for further use (for a more detailed explanation, see my article The Quality and Efficiency of Royal Mint Dies A Century Ago in the September 1978 issue of The Canadian Numismatic Journal.
3 - AVERAGE) NUMBER OF PIECES STRUCK PER PAIR OF DIES: This figure is based on the average number of obverse and reverse dies used to strike a particular denomination during a given year. For example, 35 obverse and 37 reverse dies were used to strike 1884 cents. This gives us an average of 36 dies. When the total number of coins struck, i.e. 2,523,955, is divided by 36, we obtain the figure of 70,109.86 which, when rounded off to the nearest integer, gives us 70,110. This figure, of course, represents the average number of coins struck per pair of dies. The actual number of pieces struck by a particular die pair may have been higher or lower. In some cases, the calculated average differs slightly with the average listed in the mint reports (usually by 1 only). In such instances, the latter figure is used in preference to the former. However, when the vivo averages differ significantly, an asterisk* is used to refer the reader to the end of the article for clarification and comments.
4 - NUMBER OF GOOD COINS STRUCK: The manufacturing process of coins always produces a certain percentage of defective pieces, most of which are detected and destroyed at the mint. The remaining coins are referred to as "good" pieces, being up to standard and fit for issue. The 1894 Royal Mint report offers this statement: "It should be explained that the term `struck', as here employed, has reference to the operation of coinage generally, and therefore, includes the weighing and examination to eliminate defective pieces which necessarily take place after the coins have left the press. Thus, the figures...give the number of coins prepared for issue in the Operative Department within the corresponding years."
|# OF DIES USED|
|YEAR||DENOM||NUMBER OF PIECES COINED||OBV.||REV.||AVERAGE STRIKES PER PAIR OF DIES||# OF GOOD COINS STRUCK|
* SPECIFIC CLARIFICATIONS OF THE FIGURES QUOTED:
* CANADA 1885 FIVE CENTS: The Royal Mint report for this year lists two different mintage figures for this denomination. On page 45, the figure of 953,951 is quoted as representing the total number of 1885 five-cent pieces struck - including those which were later rejected and melted as being defective. On page 46, however, 1,000,000 is listed as the number of good pieces struck. As is usually the case with early mintage figures, the total number of coins struck for a given issue is subsequently reduced owing to the number of defective pieces produced. However, in this particular instance, we see an increase of 46,049 over the total number of coins reported struck! This indicates that the latter entry of an even 1 million is probably incorrect, having been the result of a rounding off of the true mintage of 953,951. It should be mentioned that the Colonial coinage tabulations given in the appendix of the 1891 mint report further maintains the figure of 1,000,000 by listing a nominal value of $50,000 for the 1885 five-cent pieces. Obviously, this value was arrived at by referring to the rounded off mintage entry. (For a more detailed study of the 1885 five-cent piece, see my article the 1885 Over 5 Five-Cent Piece - Alias 1885/3 Overdate published in the April 1979 issue of The Canadian Numismatic Journal.)
* CANADA 1891 ONE CENT: The 31st edition of The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins lists a mintage of 1,452,500 for the 1891 one cent piece. This figure is apparently based on the mintage quoted in the Colonial coinage tabulations given in the appendix of the 1891 mint report, which states that the value of 1891 cents was $14,525. No doubt this figure was arrived at by rounding off the true mintage of 1,452,537, since the values given in the appendix are quoted only in dollar amounts. The 1891 report further states that: "Of the $14,525.37 in bronze cents coined for the Dominion of Canada, $4,525.37 resulted from the re-coinage of a sum of about $3,400 in old copper coin withdrawn from circulation." Another table on page 18 confirms the value of $14,525.37 as being the amount of 1891 cents the mint minted. The monumental article by the late Fred Bowman entitled The Decimal Coinage of Canada and Newfoundland published in the March 1947 issue of The Numismatist provided a scholarly compilation of the mintages of Canadian and Provincial decimal coins. Mr. Bowman listed the mintage figure of the 1891 cent as 1,452,537. Therefore, based on these facts, the correct mintage of the 1891 cent is 1,452,537.
*CANADA 1892 FIVE CENTS: The average number of strikes per pair of dies listed in the mint report (page 62) is 37,531. However, the correct figure should read 37,603 (864,865 divided by 23).
* CANADA 1892 TEN CENTS: The average number of strikes per pair of dies listed in the mint report (page 62) is 35,941. However the correct figure should read 36,295 (526,284 divided by 14.5).
* CANADA 1894 FIVE CENTS: The 1894 Royal Mint report lists two different mintage figures for Canadian five cent pieces of this year. On page 21, under the heading "Colonial Coins Struck", the total value quoted for the 1894 five cents is $25,000. This figure, representing 500,000 coins, is further maintained on page 73 under the heading "good coins struck" which is defined in the mint's own words as: . . . The term "struck" as here employed, has reference to the operation of coinage generally, and therefore includes the weighing and examination to eliminate defective pieces which necessarily take place after the coins have left the press. Thus the figures. . . give the numbers of coins prepared for issue in the Operative Department within the corresponding years.
According to the two entries cited above, the figure of 500,000 is quoted as being the number of good coins struck However, on page 64, the "number of pieces coined" is listed as 490,240 - a decrease of 9,760 from the previously quoted 500,000. Obviously, 500 000 "good coins" cannot possibly be extracted from a total mintage of 490,240! Therefore, it is my considered opinion that 500,000 represents a rounding off (to facilitate bookkeeping) of the true mintage of 490,240 coins.
*NEWFOUNDLAND 1894 TEN CENTS: The Royal Mint report quotes the number of dies used as being 1 obverse and 1 reverse. However, as listed in the third edition of Haxby and Willey Coins of Canada, the 1894 Newfoundland 10 cents comes with two different obverses: #2 and #3. Therefore, at least 2 obverse dies were used to strike the 1894 Newfoundland ten-cent piece. This does not necessarily imply that these two obverse dies were sunk in 1894. It is certainly possible and able) for either die to have been made during a previous year and used in 1894.
* NEWFOUNDLAND 1894 TWENTY CENTS: As with the Newfoundland 1894 ten cents, two distinctly different obverse dies were used: Haxby/Willey Obverse #1 and #2. The difference between the two obverse portraits is very obvious. Obverse #1 has a youthful rendition of Victoria, while Obverse #2 shows the queen significantly aged - a more realistic likeness of her appearance at the time. Therefore, the number of obverse dies used to strike the 1894 Newfoundland twenty-cents is at least 2, not "1" as quoted in the mint report. As with the 1894 Newfoundland ten-cents, it is conceivable that either or both of these obverse dies had been made during a previous year and used in 1894.
* NEWFOUNDLAND 1896 TWENTY CENTS: One reverse die is listed in the mint report (page 37) as having been used to strike 1896 Newfoundland twenty-cent pieces. However, two popular reverse varieties are known: the "Small 96" and the "Large 96". Therefore, at least two reverse dies were actually used.
* NEWFOUNDLAND 1896 FIFTY CENTS: Two obverse varieties are known: Haxby/Willey #1 and #2. Therefore, at least 2 obverse dies were used to strike 1896 Newfoundland fifty-cent pieces, not "1" as quoted in the mint report. As with the 1894 ten and twenty cents, either of the two obverse dies may have been manufactured during a previous year. It is interesting to note that the only known previous use of obverse #2 in the Newfoundland 50 cent series goes back to 1882 on the Heaton strikings (source: Haxby/Willey's "Coins of Canada", 3rd edition, page 102). It is conceivable that at least one obverse die from 1882 was brought out of storage and used in 1896.
On the "other side of the coin", two reverse varieties for the 1896 Newfoundland fifty cents are listed in Charlton's 30th edition (listing omitted in subsequent editions: the "Small Date" and the "Large Date". This suggests that 2 reverse dies were used instead of "1" as listed in the mint report.
* CANADIAN 1898H ONE CENT: Although this issue was struck at the "Heaton Mint", the Royal Mint Report (page 53) for this year notes: "Of the Colonial dies Page 53) for this year prepared, 73 were forwarded to Birmingham for the production of the Canadian bronze coin already mentioned".
* NEWFOUNDLAND 1898 FIFTY CENTS: The 1952, third edition of Wayte Raymond's "The Coins and Tokens of Canada" lists the mintage figure of 1898 Newfoundland fifty cent pieces as 76,606. The third edition of Haxby and Willey's "Coins of Canada" lists the mintage as 76,607. The figure quoted in the 30th edition of "The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins" is 79,607, which was revised to 76,607 beginning in the 31st edition. Other authors quote various mintages for the 1898 Newfoundland 50 cent piece: Bowman lists 79,607, James 76,607, Gandley 76,607, etc. Therefore, three different mintage figures have been quoted for this issue: 76,606, 76,607 and 79,607. To these, I add another: 80,000, which is quoted on page 69 of the 1898 Royal Mint report as being the number of good coins struck and prepared for issue. I have not been able to find a reference to substantiate any mintage figure other than 80,000 for the 1898 Newfoundland fifty-cent piece.
* CANADA 1899 FIFTY CENTS: Obviously, the number of reverse dies used was at least 1 and not "0" as reported. Judging by the figure listed as the average number of coins struck per pair of dies it would be reasonably safe to assume that 1 obverse and 1 reverse die were used to strike Canadian 1899 fifty-cent pieces.
* CANADA 1900 ONE CENT: Again we have a situation where the number of good coins struck (1,000,000) exceeds the total number of coins reported to have been produced (954,240), this time by 45,760. Therefore, the correct mintage of the 1900 one-cent piece is more likely 954,240.
* CANADA 1901 FIVE CENTS: Still another discrepancy in the reported mintage figures. Apparently, the 2,000,000 pieces reportedly struck was a rounding off of the actual figure of 1,888,638 (as quoted on page 68).
* CANADA 1907 TEN CENTS: The total number of coins struck was 2,613,979 (page 60), while the reported number of good pieces struck is 2,620,000 (page 66). Evidently, 2,613,979 would appear to be the correct figure.
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