Welcome to my post on the most valuable and rare Canadian quarters. Quarters are my favorite denomination to collect. I must admit though, that one of the difficulties that immediately presents itself here, has to do with organizing a list of valuable and rare Canadian quarters.
For instance, if I presented a simple top 10 list of rare Canadian quarters, then nearly every coin on the list would be Victorian quarters that pre-date 1900. Given that I’ve already written an article on rare Victorian Quarters, I thought I’d take a different approach here.
To showcase the diversity of Canada’s coin heritage for its upcoming 150th birthday in 2017, I’ve decided to present a list of rare Canadian Quarters by decade. Each quarter featured here is the rarest quarter found in that decade. So here is the list:
Rare Canadian Quarters
1875 H Quarter Queen Victoria
This coin is the “Queen of Canadian Quarters.” Charlton has listed the mintage for 1875H Quarters at 1 million coins minted. Given that it’s the rarest Victorian Quarter I have my doubts about that number. After all, the 1889 Quarter discussed below was the lowest mintage Victorian Quarter, yet they don’t really compare to the 1875H in terms of rarity.
Anyway, this quarter sells for about $500-$1,000 in low grades and tens of thousands in mint state. Definitely a must have for any serious Quarter collector.
1889 Quarter Queen Victoria
As I mentioned above the 1889 Quarter is the lowest mintage Victorian Quarter (66,340 pieces were struck). It’s tough to find examples in mid-grades and I’ve only ever seen one mint state example (MS-63). In low grades the coin can fetch a couple hundred bucks, but prices quickly rise to the $1,000s if you’re lucky enough to find a nice mid-grade example. Mint state examples will cost significantly more, running into the tens of thousands of dollars.
1893 Quarter Queen Victoria
Another low mintage Victorian Quarter is the 1893 with a mintage of about 100,000. Low grade examples sell for about a few hundred dollars, while high end mint state examples fetch a few thousand. Given the number of mid and high grade examples I’ve seen, I’d say that 1893s survived in larger numbers than the 1875H or 1889.
1906 Small Crown Edward VII Quarter
This is perhaps the rarest of rare Canadian Quarters. It’s believed that about 100 coins were made before the mint realized that it used the wrong reverse die. It’s tough to tell the difference between the Small Crown and Large Crown varieties. In fact, the existence of the Small Crown variety was only discovered in the 1980s. The difference has to do with the crown at the top of the coin on the reverse side. The design changed in 1906, but a small number were struck using an old die that was used from 1902-1905.
Very few of these coins exist today, and many of them are in extremely low grades of Fair and Good. Low end examples sell for around $1,000, while the highest graded has sold for over $50k at auction.
1915 George V Quarter
The 1915 George V Canadian quarter is the scarcest date of the entire George V collection. Charlton lists the mintage at just over 242,000 pieces and very few have survived to this day. Most of the surviving examples are of very poor quality and grade in the “good to very good” range and sell for around $50-$100. High end examples appear from time to time at auctions with mint-state 63 examples ranging from $5,000-$8,000. The occasional MS-64 is the highest graded and auction prices range from $10,000 to $14,000.
Of course, those are the two pricing extremes. For a coin investor, I think the key is to pick up a nice mid-grade circulated example. There seem to be very few of the coins around, but they do show up at auctions from time to time. A VF-20 example can fetch $250, while VF-30’s and EF-40s can sell for $500 and $900 respectively.
1921 George V Quarter
All 1921 silver coins are highly sought after by coin collectors and while it’s not as rare as the famous 1921 50 cents and 1921 5 cents, the 1921 quarter is still a tough date to find. Low end coins sell for under $50 while the much more scarcer mint state examples can fetch thousands o,r in some cases, tens of thousands.
Again, I think the key for the average coin collector is to find really nice mid-grade examples (EF-AU grades). These seem to be the most “investable” because they sell from about $350-$900 which is in most collectors’ affordability range.
1936 dot George V Quarter
Of all the 1936 “dot” coins it is the quarter that is the most common. The dot coins were made in the midst of Edward VIII’s abdication. The dot coins were made as an emergency measure to buy time before the mint received new dies with King George VI effigy. The dot simply indicates that it was made in 1937. Low end examples can be purchased for about $100 while higher end mint-state examples can sell for as high as $5,000 at auctions. The coins historical significance and scarcity make it a must have coin for any serious quarter collection.
1947 dot George VI Quarter
Another famous must have “dot” coin. In 1948, India gained its independence and new dies were created that removed the inscription “Emperor of India” from the obverse side of the coin. As a way to meet demand for Quarters, the mint produced 1947 Quarters with a small Maple Leaf next to the date to signify that they were struck in 1948. Those Maple Leaf dies would deteriorate overtime to the point that they would simply produce a small “dot” next to the date. Low end examples can be picked up for under $100 while the higher end mint state examples sell for about $1,500-$3,500.
1951 Low Relief George VI Quarter
The Royal Canadian Mint produced two different varieties of 1951 quarters. The first is a “high” relief variety which is by far the most common. Over 8 million 1951 quarters were minted, but examples of the rare and highly sought after “low” relief variety number somewhere in the low thousands if not under 1,000 pieces total. Most 1951 LRs were found in proof-like sets, but some made their way into circulation.
The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that on the obverse of the high relief variety, the letter “A” in “DEI GRATIA” points toward a rim denticle; while for the low relief variety, the “A” points in between rim denticles. I know, not much of a difference but significant enough to make low relief varieties worth several hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So get out your magnifying glasses and check those quarters!
1967 Bobcat Nickel Pattern Quarter
Most people instantly recognize the iconic “Bobcat” coin that was produced in 1967. The RCM minted about 50 million of these beautiful silver quarters. The silver variety is actually quite common and not a rare coin by any measure. However, a small number (believed to be about 5-10) of pattern 1967 quarters were struck in nickel. These coins are quite rare and typically fetch $3,000-$5,000 at auction.
1973 Large Bust Mountie Quarter
With less than 10,000 pieces believed to have been made, the 1973 Large Bust quarter is one of the more popular rare Canadian coins. In 1973, to commemorate the 100th birthday of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the mint produced hundreds of millions of quarters that depicted a Mountie on horseback. A small number were made using the obverse of the 1972 Quarter. Circulated examples can be purchased for around $150, while mint state examples can be found for around $300-$500.
1983 Caribou Quarter
Hey remember the 80s? Me neither! It was also an unremarkable decade for Canadian Quarters too. What can I say there are no rare Canadian quarters for the 1980s. The 1983 date was the lowest mintage for the decade at a little over 19 million pieces. These examples in certified mint state can sell for $20-$30.
1992 Provincial Quarters with Rotated Die Error
The RCM celebrated Canada’s 125th birthday in 1992 by releasing a special commemorative provincial quarter each month. In general, these coins are not rare at all and many were saved and put away as keepsakes.
That said, some provincial quarters had a type of minting error called a “rotated die.” All that means is that if you look at the obverse side (the Queen’s effigy), and turn the coin around, the portrait on the reverse will be rotated by 90 degrees or 180 degrees.
For years, the coin community has known about the 2 most common provincial coins where this error occurred (the New Brunswick and North West Territories). I have recently learned of a 3rd and extremely rare example of this error appearing on a Saskatchewan coin. This places the Saskatchewan coin among other rare Canadian quarters. The other coins sell for about $125-$300, while it remains to be seen how much the lone Saskatchewan error coin will sell for.
2000 P Caribou Quarter
Around the turn of the millennium, the Royal Canadian Mint began experimenting with nickel-plating around a steel inner core. The coins were struck with a small “P” on the obverse side. A very small number of 2000 “P” Quarters were released into public circulation. If you find one of these in your change, this ultra-rare 2000 P quarter is worth as much as $10k.
2000 Millennium Map Mule and 2007 Wheelchair Curling Mule
Neither of these coins were ever found in circulation, but they were found in a small number proof-like sets. Both of these coins were error coins that resulted from mismatched dies. The quality control group at the RCM found and destroyed the majority of the error coins. Therefore, both coins are believed to be extremely rare Canadian quarters with fewer than 100 or so examples in existence. If you’re lucky enough to find either one of these, you can expect to pay around $500 or more for it.
2010 Commemorative Special Edition Proof Quarter 1935-2010
Sadly, there are no rare circulation strike quarters for this decade. Maybe some will appear in 2017 when the RCM issues its new commemorative quarter as it has done for similar occasions in the past. But for now my pick for this decade is a special proof commemorative quarter that was part of a limited number of 5,000 sets. They were special limited edition proof sets that commemorated the circulation coinage of 1935. These coins bear the date 1935-2010. It’s tough to find any single denomination because it would require breaking up the sets to sell the coins individually. These coins sell for about $50 if you’re lucky enough to find one.
For more information about Rare Canadian coins check out these titles from Amazon:
James A. Haxby’s A Guide Book of Canadian Coins
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