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 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 of the most enjoyable series to collect is the Canadian Elizabeth II One Cent series. It’s diversity of offerings and affordability over the decades has provided collectors with a steady stream of examples without breaking the wallet.
The reverse was carried over from the previous George VI series with no changes and was designed & engraved by W G. E. Kruger-Gray which features two maple leafs on a single branch. To the right of the maple leaf is the designer’s initials “KG” and to the left of the maple leaf is the year. On the upper outer periphery is the denomination “1 CENT” and on the lower outer periphery is the word “CANADA”.
The obverse design features a bust image of Queen Elizabeth II facing right and on the outer periphery is the phrase "ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA".
Other obverse design features include composition and mint marks. Modern issues are made of copper plated 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 2001 issues were only available in special mint sets.
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”.
With more than 50 years of coin production the series offers a total of 8 major types and 3 major varieties. Additionally, there many more minor varieties that include errors and minor die differences.
Type 1 1953-1964 – Young Queen Image
Type 2 1965-1966, 1968-1989 – New Obverse Image
Type 3 1990-1991, 1993-1996 – New Obverse Image
Type 4 1992 – 125th Confederacy Anniversary
Type 5 1997-2003 – Composition Change to Zinc with Copper Plating
Type 6 1999-2003 - Composition Change to Steel with Nickel & Copper Plating
Type 7 2003-2012 – New Obverse Image (zinc composition)
Type 8 2003-2012 – New Obverse Image (steel composition)
Variety 1 1979 – Smaller Bust Design
Variety 2 1980-1981 – Reduced Weight
Variety 3 1982-1989 – 12-Sided Design
Variety 4 1992 – 125th Anniversary of Confederation, coins were dual dated with the years 1867 & 1992
Variety 5 2002 – 50 year Anniversary of ascension to Thrown also referred to as the Golden Jubilee, coins were dual dated with the years 1952 & 2002
The Faces of Queen Elizabeth II
Over the decades as the Queen aged so has her image on coinage.
Young Queen 1953 to 1964
Elizabeth II's portrait designed by Mary Gillick, whose initials appear on the truncation of the bust.
Queen with Tiara 1965 to 1989
Elizabeth II's portrait designed by Arnold Machin, showing the Queen with more drapery on her shoulders, and a tiara on her head.
Crowned Head Queen 1990 to 2003
Elizabeth II's portrait designed by Dora de Pedery-Hunt, showing the Queen with the royal crown on her head.
Modern Queen Image 2003 to Present
Elizabeth II's portrait designed by Susanna Blunt, showing the Queen as more mature with no crown and sporting a modern hair style.