War Period with No Issue


There is no mystery at all about the 1940-1944 interim. Taxed to the utmost of effort by the impact of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Mint had almost more work than could be managed with a reduced efficiency of personnel. For example, the 1943 Report informs us that in this year 120 changes were made in the temporary staff. There was a perfect plague of dismissals, resignations, and necessary losses to military needs. Skilled workers were scarce and a point finally reached which saw but 40 on the permanent staff. It was on this dangerously low level that the Mint was forced to operate. Almost a near miracle is the fact that the Mint functioned as well as it did.

Not only was it necessary for the Mint to meet coinage demands, it also became necessary to turn out war material. For one thing, the Mint engaged in the task of turning out pressure plates for 15 inch shells destined for delivery to the Royal Navy. Not only one, but several of such orders were filled.

Normal activity does not require the making of too many medals. However, the abnormal situation required that they should also be made in unprecedented number as well as an endless variety of decorations of various sorts. The making of good medals is quite as exacting as the making of good coins.

Something of an embarrassment was the fact that the coinage needs of Newfoundland had to be met. Had Newfoundland then been part of the Dominion, the task would have been lighter. As it was, different dies had to be made, a time consuming thing at the best. Nor was the different fineness requirement of 925 any great help. Nevertheless, the needed coins were minted and delivered.  


 1943 "Victory" Nickel

Work pressure during the war period was tremendous and the Mint worked around the clock for a prolonged period of time with no Sunday off as a day of rest. Instead of decreasing in any measure, coinage demand rose, and it was during this time that the Tombacs and Victory nickels were put out. It may be noted that the Tombac coins were a source of far more trouble than had been expected and eventually they proved unsatisfactory.

Tin was in very short supply and the amount in the bronze cent pieces was cut to 1/2 of 1 per cent. Nickel was abandoned in favor of copper and zinc, and copper and zinc abandoned in favor of chrome and steel for the five cent pieces.

In spite of the heavy work pressure, technical progress in coinage was made. Chromium plated dies are first mentioned in the 1942 Report and the statement is made that the difficulty of getting high grade die steel led to experiments with chromium. For the purpose of comparison, half of the dies used for one cent and five cent pieces were chromium plated and it was found that they were superior if used in the right way.

Presuming all these things to be true, it is hardly surprising that the dollars were forgotten for the time being. One explanation that I received was that there was no demand for them, but it is not the whole truth. The dollars do not meet, and never have met, any pressing need in the Canadian economy and are more or less in the nature of a luxury item. It cannot be said that they were missed at all except possibly by a few collectors, but certainly not by the population at large.

Indeed, and this may be a point worthy of note, a large number of Canadians were not even aware that dollars had even been minted. Although this situation is no longer true, it was true for a longer period of time than might be supposed. Minting the dollars would simply have meant an additional burden on the Mint that could not have been justified by the circumstances.

It would certainly he reasonable to suppose that silver would have more value as a metal for war than it would have as value represented in silver dollars. The value of silver in war greatly increases. Be that as it may, Canada returned to the silver dollars as soon as possible. After all, 1945 was a war year, and it was in this year that the dollar coinage was resumed.


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