On February 6, 1952, King George VI of the United Kingdom passed away in his sleep. Upon his death, his daughter Elizabeth assumed the crown to become Queen Elizabeth II. As is tradition, United Kingdom and Common Wealth Nation coinage replaced the effigy of King George the VI with Queen Elizabeth the II on all denominations in the following year of 1953.
Canada, being a Common Wealth Nation, likewise updated their coinage and thanks to Elizabeth II’s longevity has provided us with decades of diversity with Queen Elizabeth II coinage.
The reverse, designed & engraved by Emanuel Hahn, features a fishing schooner under sail. The design was based on the famous Canadian racing schooner The Bluenose. Above the design the word “CANADA” and below the design is the denomination “10 CENTS”. Off to the left of the front of the ship is the designers initial "H".
The obverse design features a bust image of Queen Elizabeth II facing right. As the Queen matured over the years so has her bust design matured providing collectors with a total four different effigy images; the “Young Queen”, Queen with Tiara”, “Queen with Crown” and the “Mature Queen”.
Other obverse design features include composition and mint marks. Modern issues are made of multi-ply plated steel and to identify the composition the Royal Canadian Mint added the composition mark “P” just below the Queen’s bust image from 1999 to 2006. It is important to note that in 1999 & 2000 steel was issued as test pieces only and nickel was still the primary composition in those years.
Partially through 2006, and currently in use today, the RCM replaced the “P” composition mark with a mint mark logo that was a maple leaf within a circle. Other obverse markings included special mint sets issued by the Winnipeg Mint in 1998, 2000, & 2003 that carry a mint mark of “W”.
Mint Production Issues in 1968
During the 1960’s the price of silver soared and it was no longer affordable to mint coins with a silver composition.
With the price of silver climbing coins became more valuable for their silver content and exceeded their denomination value. Subsequently, silver coinage began rapidly disappearing from everyday use creating a coin shortage. In 1968 the Ottawa mint was working feverishly to meet the demand by running multiple shifts but it still wasn’t enough so a contract was established with the U.S. Philadelphia Mint to produce Canadian dimes. This represented the first time since 1907 that a foreign mint produced Canadian coinage and the only time since the Ottawa Mint open in 1908 that the Royal Canadian Mint had to rely on a foreign mint facility.
In a rush to meet the demands, little thought was given to the methods of minting at the Philadelphia Mint beyond composition, design & weight. No mint mark was used to differentiate coins minted in Ottawa or Philadelphia but the Philadelphia Mint used existing U.S. dime collars during the process resulting in a different reeded edge.
A reeded edge on U.S. coinage has grooves that are square whereas Canadian collars produced a reeded edge where the groves ends are V-shaped. Another distinguishing factor from the use of U.S. collars is the diameter, a U.S. dime diameter measures 17.91mm while a Canadian dime diameter measures 18.03mm.
With more than 50 years of coin production the series offers a total of 8 major types based on changes to either the obverse design, reverse design, or composition:
Type 1: Young Queen - 1953 to 1964
Type 2: Silver Queen with Tiara - 1965 to 1966, 1968
Type 3: Nickel Queen with Tiara - 1968 to 1989
Type 4: Nickel Crowned Queen - 1990 to 2000
Type 5: Plated Steel Crowned Queen - 2001 to 2003
Type 6: Mature Queen - 2003 to present
Though the series had 6 types there were design or composition variations within those types that provides an additional 4 major varieties and even more minor varieties due to slight modifications to obverse or reverse designs (such as the 1953 no should fold and should fold minor varieties).
Variety 1: Small Reverse design 1969-1978.
Variety 2: Small Obverse design 1979-1989.
Variety 3: 125th Anniversary of Confederation, 1992 – coins were dual dated with the years 1867 & 1992.
Variety 4: 50 year Anniversary of ascension to Thrown also referred to as the Golden Jubilee, 2002 – coins were dual dated with the years 1952 & 2002.
It could be argued that the composition change from 80% silver to 50% silver in 1967 is a major variety but the truth is with no special markings and both coins weighing exactly the same there is no easy way to tell the two 1967 issues apart from one another.
Another potential coin that collectors may consider adding to their list of major varieties are the 1968 Philadelphia issues.
All issues (including silver) are readily available and affordable. The only rarity to the series is a die variety in 1969 referred to as a “Large Date” variety. Very early in the production of 1969 coinage, a die change was made to reduce the date size of the date and only a few coins were issued with the large date making it an instant rarity. The exact population of large date 1969 dimes is unknown.
For a potential sleeper, the 1954 issue look interesting with a mintage of less than 5 million.