CANADIAN SILVER DOLLARS
Of one thing you may be certain: that if you collect Canadian dollars you will have plenty of company. It is the purpose of this chapter to go into some detail and consider the situation. Most of us like to know what our fellows in the same field are doing, what kind of experiences they have had, and information in general. In fact, coin conventions are held for such reasons.
thing that intrigued me from the beginning of my acquaintance with the dollars
centered about the Canadian French and what they did in the way of collecting.
An enquiry letter to Philip Spier of
French Canadian are in no wise behind the English speaking when it comes to the collecting of coins. The before mentioned assures me that the French buy fully half of the 1,000 coin catalogues or so which he sells annually. Interestingly also, fully half the catalogues he sells go to such persons as taxi drivers, waitresses, cashiers, and other persons who handle money. These people on the fringe of the coin world are forever hopeful of picking up money that may have unusual value and they do us good by occasionally making an interesting or even valuable find
St. Hyacinthe, a town of about 25,000 close to
Since the French Canadians make up a large segment of Canadian population, failure on their part to collect would make a great difference in the dollar demand as well as that for other coins. They are a decided help and influence in market demand and therefore we are indebted to them.
the beginning at least, dollar collectors of the American Union were almost
entirely limited to the
always to be considered factor is concerned with dealers who do not advertise
and who are generally unknown except locally. There are a large number of them
and more than a few sell the dollars and are enthusiasts in their behalf. For
and her dollar situation proved far less easy for me to determine. In common
with Canada, it is a bilingual country, but with shade sand overtones of an entirely
different kind. The Director of the Mint at
at first it seemed hopeless, I finally had the good fortune to locate two South
African collectors who have good collections of Canadian dollars. Both are
collectors show an active interest in the coins of
One thing about England that greatly pleases me is the character of her collectors. They very generally study what they collect and they hold the collections that they put together. Fly by night collecting is abhorrent to them and should he to everyone. Previous attention has been called to the fact that a large number of the 1937 proof sets are probably held by the English and are not in evidence because they are not for sale.
dollars are worthily represented in New Zealand
by E. J. Arlow, the Honourable Secretary of the Royal Numismatic Society of New
Zealand, a resident of
Prince Edward Island
distributed at one time what has come to be known as the "holey"
dollar. Spanish pieces of eight had their centres punched out and the resulting
pieces were used as shillings. They were hoarded by a merchant who tried to send
very same thing happened in the early history of
very same thing happened in the early history of
From what has been given, it is apparent that the dollar collectors comprise both a numerous and far flung fraternity, a situation which naturally causes an increase of interest. Every collector who has the pieces brings attention to them, otherwise he would certainly be an odd sort, and therefore the coins get wide publicity.
Crown popularity does more than can be imagined to help the cause of Canadian dollars. Big silver coins fascinate as the smaller ones never do and they make an impressive showing when put together. It is true to say that the dollars have most illustrious company, a company to which they give an added lustre. For example, the Spanish pieces of eight, the Maria Theresa thalers, the United States silver dollars, the various crowns, and a host of others. I have merely named a few of the better known.
silver coins attract many who are not collectors at all and their history in
this respect is of ancient lineage.
Note has been made of the fact that the dollars are generally, although not always, slightly higher in silver content than the other coins. You may be sure that it is not done by design. If it could be contrived, all coins would be exactly at the 800 standard and it would constitute a technical triumph. Metallurgical men at the Mint have looked into this matter with considerable curiosity.
Silver fillets for coinage cannot be turned out that are exact and of unvarying uniformity. Careful tests always show a difference in the centre and the outside and conclusions have been reached from this fact. Something like, or in the nature of, exact atom control would make possible a fixed and uniform pattern, but nothing of this kind is at this time possible. We speak of pure gold and silver, but chemically speaking, there are no such things. The value of pi, carried to 8 decimal places, is 3.14159265 and has been carried to 50 by a German mathematician who had time on his hands. We can get closer to the point but never to the final point. The point of an absolutely pure metal is always approached but never reached. The perfect alloy has yet to he produced.
By Canadian law, silver dollars are legal tender to the number of 10, a problem unlikely to come up in the life of the average citizen. More than a few of us will gladly accept them in almost any number. While on the subject, it may be of interest to know that a coin called in is not legal tender. Therefore the Tombacs have lost their legal value.
We all hear talk about coins being hoarded and there is no doubt that it is done. What would be reasonable of the dollars in this respect? At the end of 1959 the total number of minted dollars was 11,056,407. This figure gives us something very solid to go on.
Is it possible to suppose that collectors could even begin to monopolize this number of coins? It is an obvious absurdity; a thing to be given no serious consideration. Souvenir hunters hold more of them than do the collectors, and the great majority of souvenir coins would never be wanted for a collection. At least, I have yet to see any that I would want. Unfortunately, this is not quite the whole story.
We must grant that it would be entirely possible to monopolize the dollars of a very short mintage year such as 1948. If so, then it would almost certainly have to he done by collectors or speculators and not by those who want souvenirs. Those who hold the souvenirs pay no attention to dates of any kind and it is unusual for them to know the value of any given dollar. This does not mean that 1948's are not held as souvenirs; very probably a few are. It will readily be seen that the situation is complicated and impossible as far as any answer goes.
seems to be at least a few who are of the belief that the dollars are largely
put out to please collectors. It is true enough that the Mint appears to have
entertained this belief about the dollar of 1935, a belief which certainly
turned out to be a mistaken one. The commemorative halves of the
The dollars that the Mint puts out for collectors are the proof-likes. Though even those who want souvenirs are perfectly free to buy them, only I think they rarely do so. The total figure of proof-like dollars for 1958 is 33,237 a figure very much like those for the commemorative halves of the United States.
is every reason to suppose that a good million of the dollars are in the
Mutilated coins both anger and offend all of us. It is against the law in all countries and yet we never hear of prosecutions. One Mint Report, that of 1958, shows the return of 16,337 mutilated steel nickels. What induces people to coin mutilation is a great mystery.
Few citizens seem to know, or perhaps to care, that the coins they use nearly every day are the property of the Government and are put out as a public convenience. Ownership of coins in fee simple is certainly possible, as Greek and Roman coins for example, but they represent a very different situation. If the Government did not own them it would hardly have the right to call coins in at will and on other occasions to declare them not legal tender.
As far as I know, international law, which is merely usage and custom, has nothing to do with the mutilation of coins by the citizen of another country. Yet good sense and decency forbids the doing of such a thing.
If we wish to be very technical, we can say that the citizen who has a collection of coins issued by his own country, currently in use, or acceptable, and residing in it, still cannot claim ownership and could be punished for mutilation. Of course, no collector would be silly enough to be guilty of such an action.
coins, including the dollar, stand up well in circulation because of their 800
alloy. An alloy of 500 seems to be about the lowest to have any practical usage.
dollars, as compared to Canadian, are somewhat larger, but not greatly so. The
American counterpart weighs 412.5 grains, is 1.5 inches in diameter, has a
weight tolerance of 6 grains, and is the issuance of the commemoratives.
Precedent having been set for them, these coins are favored for the purpose.
With the abandonment of the dollar, the
collectors have a certain thing and need not concern themselves too much about
the future. If
an odd freak of fate, the two provincial commemoratives are devoted to provinces
of the extreme east and west. To balance things in the event of another province
being honored, I would respectfully suggest
One thing that plagued the Mint for a long time was the tellurium content of the silver. Although the amount would seem infinitesimal, being only 0.011 per cent, it yet made the silver so brittle that it could be used only for casting and was a complete loss in the way of coinage. Upon investigating the tellurium content, an interesting discovery was made.
Before reduction, refinery silver showed a 0.011 tellurium content, as already given. After reduction, far from showing any loss, it went higher yet, the figure then going to 0.019 per cent. It was then found out that the refractory element was picked up from the cast iron plates used in the reduction and thus the silver was actually made worse. When this condition was finally corrected, the tellurium fell to 0.003 per cent and the hitherto unusable silver became available for coinage. Research on the problem began in 1947 and was successfully concluded in 1948. In the last named year, very nearly three quarters of a million ounces of silver was made fit for use.
According to the 1947 Mint Report, coins from the new silver came out in that year. No indication is given as to the source of the silver used for coinage before this time, but there is nothing to show that any was purchased from an outside agency.
Few counterfeit coins seem to turn up, but when they do, the half dollar appears to be one of the favorites. No one has yet tried to counterfeit the dollar. Nor are there any known cases in which alterations have been attempted.
final word on mutilations. Canadian law states that no coin shall be redeemed
which has been obviously and deliberately defaced. The most notorious case which
involves the dollars comes within the pale of this law.
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