Welcome to my post on modern rare Canadian coins. One of the most fascinating areas of coin collecting is finding what are known as “error” coins. These coins are the result of a mistake made by the mint during their production and collectors go crazy for them. In the past decade and a half, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) has made some pretty cool mistakes. This article looks at some of them.
How A Coin Is Made
To understand how mistakes can be made during the minting process it’s important to understand how coins are made. Coins are made by taking a flat, round piece of metal called a planchet and striking it with a die. A die is a piece of metal that has an image and/or text engraved on it. Once the die strikes a planchet, the image is stamped on it. There are dies for the front, or the reverse side, of a coin and separate ones for the back, or obverse side, of a coin.
The one type of error coin that I find to be the most interesting is where the dies get mismatched and stamped on a planchet. The resulting error coin is referred to as a “Mule.” Many of these so-called mules account for the majority of modern rare Canadian coins. Below are some of the most famous error “mule” coins ever made by the RCM.
1973 Large Bust Quarter
In 1973, to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the RCM struck commemorative quarters that feature a “mountie” on his horse holding a flag. The back side of the coin (obverse side) featured a smaller, more detailed effigy of the queen. Millions of these coins were minted but about 8-10 thousand were struck with a the back side of the 1972 quarters. These sought after coins sell for anywhere from $150-$600, depending on condition.
To celebrate the new millennium, the RCM issued a new quarter each month in 1999 and 2000. The front of the 1999 quarters all featured designs that represented Canada’s past, while the front of the year 2000 quarters featured designs that represented Canada’s dreams for a new millennium. As can be seen in the picture below, the designs took up all the space on the front of the coins so the denomination of “25 cents” was placed at the back below the Queen’s effigy.
The traditional caribou quarter for 1999 was only issued in mint sets. None were ever produced for general circulation. As can be seen in the picture below, these quarters feature the iconic caribou on the front of the coin, along with the denomination of “25 cents.” On the back of the coin is the Queen’s effigy.
All of these different coins, of course, contributed to the making of the 1999 error coins.
1999 September and November Mules
Not surprisingly, the busy production schedule resulted in some interesting error “Mule” coins. The coins are “mules” because the front of one coin is paired with the back of another.
These error coins were confined to the special collector sets that were made in Ottawa. No known business strikes have ever been found to exist.
Both the September and the November mules feature the original design on the front of the coin but instead of having the effigy of the Queen along with the denomination on the back, they were paired with the Caribou quarter back sides as shown below.
The resulting error produced coins that had no denomination! These fun and highly collectible coins can be found for about $150-$400.
2000 Millennium Map Mule
In the year 2000, the mint once again produced special commemorative sets with 12 quarters (1 for each month). The sets are notable for the millennium celebration token in the middle of cardboard display.
In similar fashion to the 1999 sets, the mint again produced a “mule” coin. What made this one especially interesting from a collector’s point of view, was that it involved pairing the front of the millennium token with the back of a February millennium quarter. This error essentially created a “new” quarter as the millennium token was now stamped with a denomination of “25 cents” on the back. Another interesting feature is there is no date on the coin. It’s estimated that there are no more than a few hundred of these rare examples in existence. These coins sell for $300-$800.
2007-2010 Olympic Quarters
As Canada prepared to host the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver, the mint produced commemorative coins to celebrate. As was the case with the earlier millennium quarters, mismatched dies created more “mule” error coins.
By far, the rarest and most sought after by collectors is the 2007 Wheelchair Curling quarter.
The error on this coin has to do with the Olympic logo being placed on the back of the coin instead of the Paralympic logo. The mistake was confined to the special edition sets and it is believed that fewer than 700 of these coins exist, making them highly sought after by collectors. These coins fetch anywhere from $400-$700.
The second Olympic “mule” coin had to do with the date on the Alpine skiing quarters. The date on most of these quarters is 2007, however, some of the quarters made specifically for sale at Petro-Canada locations were dated 2008. The mint decided not to recall these coins so there are tens of thousands of these coins and they only sell for about $15.
2000 “P” Coins
The second major type of modern rare Canadian coins were released in very small quantities in the year 2000 and have “P” mint mark on the reverse. At the turn of the millennium, the mint began to experiment with nickel-plated steel coins. Up to this point, quarters were made of nickel. These coins are noteworthy because they are marked with a small “P” on the back.
Nowadays these coins marked with the “P” are everywhere, but back in 1999-2000 they were experimental coins. The mint released a few millennium quarters with a “P” on them, as well as a couple of Caribou quarters. These coins are exceedingly rare with about 5 each of the millennium and only 2 known examples of the Caribou. In mint state, these coins have sold for as much as $12-$15k.
There is also a rare 2000P dime as shown below. Some of these examples have sold for as much as $10k.
For more information about Rare Canadian coins check out these titles from Amazon:
James A. Haxby’s A Guide Book of Canadian Coins
Thanks for reading my post on modern rare Canadian coins. If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out my other coin articles: