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. One series that featured this change over was the Caribou 25 cent (quarter dollar) coin.
The reverse was carried over from the previous George VI Caribou quarter series with no changes and was designed & engraved by Emanuel Hahn. The reverse design features a caribou’s head facing left. In the center of the antlers is the denomination “25 cents” while on the outer periphery is the word “CANADA” and the year of issue. Located at the base of the caribou’s neck is the designer’s 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”. Current quarter issues are made of a 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 6 major types:
Type 1 Young Queen: 1953 to 1964
Type 2 Silver Queen with Tiara: 1965, 1966, and 1968
Type 3 Nickel Queen with Tiara: 1968 to 1972, & 1974 to 1989
Type 4 Nickel Queen with Crown: 1990 to 2001
Type 5 Plated Steel Queen with Crown: 2001 to 2003
Type 6 Mature Queen: 2003 to Present
Though the series had six significant types there were design or composition variations within those types that provides an additional 6 major varieties and even more minor varieties.
Variety 1 Queen with Tiara 80% Silver Composition: 1965-1966
Variety 2 Queen with Tiara 50% Silver Composition: 1968
Variety 3 Queen with Tiara, Large Bust: 1968-1978
Variety 4 Queen with Tiara, Small Bust: 1979-1989
Variety 5 125th Anniversary of Confederation, dual date: 1992
Variety 6 Golden Jubilee, dual date: 2002
There are no rarities for the series and all issues (including silver) remain affordable.