Top 10 Rare Canadian Coins

Welcome to my article on the top 10 rare Canadian coins.  The coins on this list are some of the most valuable Canadian coins in the world.  Throughout its history, the Royal Canadian Mint has produced some of the rarest coins on earth.  Not only does this make Canadian coins super fun to collect, but they’re also some of the best investment-grade collectibles around.  Here is my list for the top 10 most valuable and rare Canadian coins.





1. 1911 Canadian Silver Dollar (known examples: 2)

top 10 rare Canadian coins 1911 silver dollar

Image courtesy of www.1911dollar.com

The 1911 Canadian Silver Dollar is the Holy Grail of Canadian coins.  For years it held the record for the world’s most valuable coin.  Only 3 examples were ever struck (2 in silver and 1 in bronze).  The bronze example and 1 silver example are housed at the Canadian Currency Museum in Ottawa, which leaves only 1 example out there for collectors!  At an auction in 2003, this coin fetched nearly 1 million dollars.

2. 1936 dot 1 cent (known examples: 3)

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Some of the most popular and collectable Canadian coins are the 1936 “dot” coins.  The story of how they came into being involved King Edward VIII’s sudden abdication in late 1936 which saw George VI ascend to the throne.  That event caused a major problem for the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) because they didn’t have any dies with the new king’s effigy on them to strike the 1937 coinage.  Their solution was to produce a small number of 1936 coins with a tiny raised “dot” just below the date to denote that they were struck in 1937.  Only 3 denominations were ever struck with the “dot”: 25-cents, 10-cents and 1-cent pieces.  The 1936 “dot” 1-cent coin is the rarest of them all with only 3 mint state examples known to exist.  One example sold at a 2010 coin auction for over $400,000!

3. 1936 dot 10-cents (known examples: 5)

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The 1936 “dot” 10-cent piece is also extremely rare.  One example sold at a 2010 coin auction for over $184,000!

4. 1969 Large Date 10-cents (known examples: 16)

Photo courtesy of icollector.com

Photo courtesy of icollector.com

The 1969 large date 10-cent coin is also extremely rare.  From time to time they appear at auction and fetch anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the grade.

5. 1916 C gold sovereign (known examples: less than 50)

Photo courtesy of numisbids.com

Photo courtesy of numisbids.com

A sovereign is a British one pound gold coin that was struck at the RCM from 1908-1919.  The 1916 C gold sovereign is the rarest and sells at auction anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the grade.

6. 1921 50-cents (known examples: less than 75)

Image courtesy of icollector.com

Image courtesy of icollector.com

Called the “King of Canadian coins,” the 1921 50 cent coin is another classic Canadian rarity.  Charlton lists the original mintage of this coin at 206,398, but almost all of them were melted down because of low demand for 50 cent coins.

As a result, only a handful of these coins exist and many believe that they came from specimen sets and business strikes that were sold to visitors at the mint in 1921.  These coins in various grades can fetch anywhere from $40,000 to $250,000 at auction.

7. 1906 small crown 25-cents (known examples: less than 100)

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The 1906 small crown 25 cent coin is the rarest Canadian quarter.  It is believed that only 1 die was used to strike no more than a hundred examples before being replaced with the large crown die.  Most of the known examples are low-grade circulated examples that are almost completely rubbed off.  There are only a handful of examples that grade above a “Very Good” condition.  These coins in the lowest of grades can fetch over $1,000 and in the higher grades like “Almost Uncirculated” and “Mint State” can fetch well above $50,000.

8. 1921 5-cents (known examples: less than 400) 

Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions

If the 1921 50 cent piece is the “King of Canadian coins” then the 1921 5 cent piece is the “Prince of Canadian” coins.  In 1921 the RCM was looking to introduce a new 5 cent coin made of nickel for the 1922 coinage.  In preparation for its launch, the mint melted down its entire inventory of silver 5 cent coins, nearly all of which were 1921s.  As was the case with the 1921 50 cent coin, all surviving examples are believed to have come from specimen sets and business strikes that were sold to visitors at the mint in 1921.  These coins in various grades can fetch anywhere from $4,000 to $100,000.

9. 1948 Canadian Silver Dollar (known examples: 1000?)

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The “King of Canadian Silver Dollars” is the 1948 Silver Dollar.  Its listed mintage was 18,780 but only a few have survived.  The story behind the low mintage of the 1948 silver dollar has to do with India’s independence in 1947.  Prior to 1948, the obverse of Canadian coins featured the effigy of the reigning monarch with their name and royal title in a Latin inscription.  Part of their royal title included the designation of “emperor of India.”  So this needed to be removed from the dies to strike the 1948 coins.  By the time the mint received the new dies they were only able to produce a small quantity.  These coins can be found at auction and usually sell between $1,000 and $20,000, depending on the grade.

10. 1947 Maple Leaf Silver Dollar (known examples: 1000?)

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The 1947 Maple Leaf Silver Dollar shares its history with the 1948 silver dollar.  As the RCM awaited new dies to strike the 1948 coins, they used the 1947 dies to fulfill existing demand.  In similar fashion to the 1936 “dot” coins, the mint placed a tiny maple leaf next to the date on the coins to signify that they were struck in 1948.  The listed mintage for these coins is 21,135 but it is also a rare silver dollar.  It can fetch anywhere from $300 to $10,000 at auction, depending on the grade.

For more information about Rare Canadian coins check out these titles from Amazon:

James A. Haxby’s A Guide Book of Canadian Coins

W. K. Cross A Charlton Standard Catalogue Canadian Coins 2016: Numismatic Issues

See my other articles on rare coins and investing in coins:

Rare Canadian Quarters

Top 10 Rare Canadian Nickels

Top 10 Rare Canadian Pennies

Investing in Rare Coins

Top 10 Rare U.S. Coins

Modern Rare Canadian Coins

The Thousand Dollar Bill

Rare Victorian Quarters

Thanks for reading and keep on collecting!




24 thoughts on “Top 10 Rare Canadian Coins

  1. Tony Q

    My 1966 Canadian Silver dollar has large beads on the canoe side and small beads on the queen side. Does it have any worth?

    Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Depending on the condition it could be worth several thousands of dollars. Take it to a coin dealer and see what they’ll offer.

      Reply
  2. Robert Mc Donald

    I have several Silver Dollar coins, starting in 1975, such as Calvary Rodeo, Library of Parliament, National Parks Moose, Detroit Davis Strait, completely to 2001 National Ballet of Canada.
    These coins are in original Mint Packaging.
    I also have complete Specimen sets starting in1987, 1991,1992, 1993, completely thru to 2001 also. These sets are in the original Mint packaging as well.
    I collected Canadian sets until 2001, at which time I retired. Finding a coin dealer in my area is out of the question. Louisiana is not a hot bed for coin collectors I how found out.
    Maybe you can give me an idea as to the value of these coins. They are all in proof mint condition. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Hi Robert, the 1991 specimen set is probably worth $50-$75, while everything else you might sell together for $200-$400. Unfortunately the silver dollars aren’t rare and neither are the sets. That’s why I always say that RCM collector sets offer little value to coin collectors and often depreciate rapidly on the secondary market.

      Reply
  3. Colleen Little

    I have a US Dollar dated 1797-1801 with the 2nd US president John Adams’ bust and Liberty on other side. I also have Canadian nickels from 1939, 1956, 1957. One nickel dated 1751-1951 on it.

    Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Hi colleen, all those coins are worth face value. The ones that are double dated are just commemorative coins and are quite common.

      Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Hi Chrisspy, check the date on the dime. If it looks exactly like the one pictured in this post, it is the rare large date. Otherwise it’s worth 10 cents.

      Reply
  4. GARY COLLING

    I HAVE A 1911 ONE DOLLAR CANADA, WITH A NATIONAL COLLECTORS MINT CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY, .999 PURE SILVER 1 TROY OZ. DIAMETER 39MM SILVER DOLLAR SIZE

    Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Hi Gary, that’s definitely NOT the 1 million dollar coin! LOL But it is a cool keepsake.

      Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Hi Lorraine, for the silver if the coins are well circulated your looking at the melt value and if they are decent they could be worth about 20-50 bucks depending on their condition.

      Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Hi Maggie, thanks for your comment. Yes the coin guide states that the nickels could be worth 25 cents or even hundreds of dollars. Here is the reality of those price guides and the rationale for my reply. #1 – I have no idea what grade those coins are in. #2 even novice coin collectors know that what a price guide says a particular coin in a particular condition is worth doesn’t mean whatsoever that you’ll actually be able to get that much money for them. The coin that Colleen inquired about are simply NOT rare coins and if they are in any grade below Mint State they won’t really be worth all that much. Also, go try to sell some coins to a dealer for price guide prices…they only pay about 60% of the price unless of course it’s a rare gem and they might give you 80% if they think they can offload it quickly to one of their customers. I think it’s important to be realistic when we look at coin price guides.

      Reply
    1. GenXinvestor Post author

      Those could be worth several hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the right grades. Especially the $2, for that one in low grade it could sell for 2 grand and up. In Higher grades like VF and EF, it could fetch over 10k. It’s actually quite a tough bank note to find so I think you won’t have any trouble selling it.

      Reply
  5. Maura Irigoyen

    Hello Gen, I have just started looking at my father’s collection, there is a 50 cent coin dated 1911 and looks exactly like the 1921 you talk about. There are two more but I can’t see the dat on them. They have a king on the back (King George?) and there is a small cross on top of the crown. Are they of any value? Thank you for your help, most appreciated as an incentive to start investigating this!

    Reply
  6. Maura Irigoyen

    Hello , I also have half dollar 1918 coin that says “50 cents 1918” Newfoundland on the front side, and King George V as the others. And there is one that is from 1912 with young King George VI it says on the back side. Thank you for your help!

    Maura

    Reply

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