On December 12, 1858, the first coins of the Province of Canada were issued. Since Canada did not yet have its own mint, the silver coins were struck at the Royal Mint in London, England in denominations of 1-, 5-. 10-, and 20-cent pieces.
Upon the establishment of the Canadian Federation in 1867, the Province of Canada coins were absorbed into the newly formed country. Of all the denominations the 20 cent piece proved unpopular due to its similar size to the U.S. quarter. As coinage demand increased additional coins were minted again in 1870 but this time the 20 cent coin was replaced with a 25 cent coin making the 1858 20 cent piece a one year type coin.
The obverse, designed by Leonard C. Wyon, features the young bust image of Queen Victoria facing left. On the outer periphery are the words "VICTORIA DEI GRATIA REGINA" (latin for "Victoria, By the Grace of God, Queen") and "CANADA".
The reverse features a wreath & crown that encircles the words "20 CENTS" with the date below.
General Market Notes
Due to the lack of interest with using a 20 cent piece, most coins were returned to the Royal Mint of London to be melted and re-coined. From 1881 to 1906, an estimated 420,000 to 430,000 were returned leaving a mintage of just over 320,000 coins available to collectors.
Most of the surviving coins have been well circulated over the years showing considerable wear. Higher grades of Almost Uncirculated (AU) and Uncirculated (UNC) carry a significant premium.