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 features Canada’s Coat of Arms but depending on the year this design may be different. Reverse 1 coat of arms was based on the original design from 1921 and was used from 1953-1958. Reverse 2 coat of arms was based on a new design introduced in 1959 and was used on coinage from 1959-1996. Reverse3 was based on a new design introduced in 1994 and has been used on current coinage since 1997.
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”. Current half dollar 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. Special mint sets were issued by the Winnipeg Mint in 1998, 2000, & 2003 and carry a mint mark of “W”.
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 with Reverse 1 coat of arms - 1953 to 1958
Type 2: Young Queen with Reverse 2 coat of arms - 1959 to 1964
Type 3: Silver Queen with Tiara - 1965 to 1966
Type 4: Nickel Queen with Tiara - 1968 to 1989
Type 5: Crowned Queen with Reverse 2 coat of arms - 1990 to 1996
Type 6: Crowned Queen with Reverse 3 coat of arms - 1997 to 2000
Type 7: Plated Steel Crowned Queen - 2001 to 2003
Type 8: Mature Queen - 2003 to present
|Reverse 1||Reverse 2||Reverse 3|
|Young Queen Obverse||Queen with Tiara Obverse||Crowned Queen Obverse|
Though the series had 8 types there were design or composition variations within those types that provides an additional 3 major varieties and even more minor varieties due to slight modifications to obverse or reverse designs.
Variety 1: Small Bust & Small Reverse design 1977 – with a smaller reverse design a change from denticles to beads was incorporated into the design.
Variety 2: 125th Anniversary of Confederation, 1992 – coins were dual dated with the years 1867 & 1992.
Variety 3: 50 year Anniversary of ascension to Thrown also referred to as the Golden Jubilee, 2002 – coins were dual dated with the years 1952 & 2002.
|1977 Small Reverse||Normal Reverse|
There are no rarities for the series and all issues (including silver) remain affordable.
For a potential sleeper, the 1954 issue look interesting with a mintage of only 506,305. Another year that has appeal is the 2001 issue which was the only year that circulation strikes were issued featuring the crowned effigy of Elizabeth II with a steel composition.