Canadian Silver Five Cent Coins

Posted by on August 8, 2012
SC CAN 1899 Five Cents 300x157 Canadian Silver Five Cent Coins

1899 Five Cents

The Canadian Five Cent Silver Coin was first struck in 1858 and continued through 1921 when nickel was adopted for Canadian’s five cent coins.  Due to Canada’s proximity to the United States the settlers of the Canadian provinces continually petitioned the United Kingdom to produce their own coins based on the decimal system and comparable to the US’s dollar.  Eventually Great Britain conceded and Canada was supplied with copper cent coins, and silver coins being five cent, ten cent and twenty cent and in 1908 Canada was allowed to mint its own currency.


In 1858 the Royal Mint struck $25,000 worth of the five cent silver coins (500,000) at the London Royal Mint and was received in Canada during August of 1858.  These first coins were designed by Leonard Charles Wyon portraying Queen Victoria’s head in profile facing left with “CANADA” under her along the rim on the obverse.  The obverse is also encircled with the Queens title in Latin; “VICTORIA DEI GRATIA REGINA” (“Victoria, by the grace of God, the Queen).  The reverse has “5 CENTS” stacked with the date underneath in the center under the Royal Crown and a maple leaf wreath encircling.  Queen Victoria’s portrait was used through 1901.

SC CAN 1916 Five Cent obverse 300x300 Canadian Silver Five Cent Coins

1916 Five Cent - obverse

The 1858 has a small date type and a large date type.  The ‘young’ version of the Victoria was used even though the rest of the realm would change to the ‘mature’ Victoria.  The British Mint used the Heaton mint in Birmingham England to supplement production and these have the “H” mint mark under the date.  There are a number of variations known for the five cent coins some with no significant difference in rarity and others definitely rarer.  In 1885 and 1886 there are those with a small last date digit and others with a large last date digit.  In 1885 there is a variety which has a small 5 over a large 5 which is significantly scarcer than the other varieties.

SC CAN 1916 Five Cent reverse Canadian Silver Five Cent Coins

1916 Five Cent -reverse

In 1902 when King Edward VII succeeded the throne after the passing of Queen Victoria the portrait of King Edward VII bust facing right appeared on the obverse with the legend “EDWARDVS VII DEI GRATIA REX IMPERATOR” (Edward VII, by the grace of God the King and Emperor) surrounding his likeness and “CANADA” at the base under his head.  This was used until 1910.  In 1911 King George V was used facing left.  The 1911 coins had an error where “DEI GRA” was left off, these are typically referred to as the “Godless” King Edwards.  King George V five cents coin’s obverse was designed by Sir E. B. MacKennal and the reverse maintained

The Five Cent Silver Canadian Coins were made of 92.5% silver 7.5% copper weighing 1.16 grams with a diameter of 15.5 millimeters.  Because of the small size they were sometimes called “fish scales”.  In 1920 the silver content of the alloy for all Canadian silver coins was reduced to 80% silver and 20% copper.  1921 was the last year that Canada produced a silver five cent coin.

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