Here is my post on the Top 10 Rare Canadian Pennies. If you’re interested in collectible and rare pennies, then this is the post for you.
Pennies are among the oldest coins ever minted for Canada. The large cent was minted from 1858 until 1920 when it was replaced by the small cent. The small cent was minted from 1920 until the Harper government retired it and removed it from circulation in 2012.
In case any of you are wondering what to do with your unwanted pennies, the banks will still accept them. Just make sure you don’t get rid of any of the rare pennies on this list! Without further ado, my Top 10 Rare Canadian Pennies!
1. 1936 Dot Penny
Coming in at number 1 on this list of rare Canadian pennies is the renown 1936 “dot” penny. This penny is the undisputed “King” of Canadian Pennies! The story of how the 1936 “dot” coins 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!
Early Elizabeth II Laureate Portrait Rarities
Three early Elizabeth II pennies that feature the Laureate Portrait are especially rare on this list of rare Canadian pennies. The first design was created in early 1953 and featured the portrait of the queen without a “fold” or “shoulder strap” on her gown. This design was too high of relief and in late 1953, in an effort to create a truer representation of the portrait, a second design that had a lower relief and featured the “fold” or “shoulder strap” of the queen’s gown was created. It can be very difficult to tell the two apart (especially on well circulated examples).
The easiest way to tell them apart is by looking at the letter “I” in the word “DEI” near the rim of the coin. If the “I” is flared and points between 2 rim denticles then it is the “no shoulder fold” variety. If the “I” appears to be straight and lines up with a rim denticle then it is the “shoulder fold” variety.
2. TIE Between the 1955 “No Shoulder Fold” (NSF) and 1954 NSF 1-Cents
1955 NSF 1-Cent
The 1955 NSF penny is one of the rarest Canadian pennies ever struck. By mistake, a small number of 1955 pennies were struck with the older design “no shoulder fold or strap” dies. These examples typically sell anywhere from several hundred to several thousands of dollars at auction.
1954 NSF 1-Cent
A small number of 1954 pennies were struck with the NSF obverse dies. They can be found in the proof-like sets and typically sell for a couple of thousand bucks at auction.
3. 1953 “Shoulder Fold” (SF) Penny
While most 1953 pennies were the NSF variety, by late 1953, the lower relief “shoulder fold” or “shoulder strap” variety had become the standard obverse design for the pennies of this series. A small number of the 1953 pennies were struck with newly upgraded dies and are tough to find. They can sell anywhere from $25 to several hundreds of dollars at auction.
4. TIE Between 2006 “Magnetic” 1-Cent and 2006 “P” no logo, non magnetic 1-Cent
The majority of the pennies on this list are quite old and pre-date 1955. Just to show people that coins don’t necessarily have to be old to be rare, I’ve included two modern rarities: the 2006 no “P” no logo, magnetic (steel core) penny and the 2006 “P” no logo, non magnetic variety. Both are tough finds with perhaps the latter being a bit more rare.
In 2006 the Royal Canadian Mint was experimenting with different designs and metals for the penny. Six types of 2006 pennies were produced: 2006 non magnetic, 2006 magnetic; 2006 P non magnetic, 2006 P magnetic; 2006 logo non magnetic, and 2006 logo magnetic. Some of the pennies are worth…well a penny! Others are quite rare and can fetch several hundreds of dollars at auction. The two to look out for are the 2006 no “P” and no logo, magnetic and the 2006 “P” no logo, non magnetic variety. The trend prices for the former are a few hundred bucks, while the latter can fetch nearly $1,000!
Pennies from the early 1920s
A combination of low mintages and low survival rates make pennies from the early to mid 1920s some of the toughest coins to find and, therefore, not only are they highly collectible but they can be decent investments as well. Pennies dating from the years 1922-1926 are key dates for this collection with 1921 and 1927 being semi-key dates. These coins, especially in higher grades are highly prized by collectors.
5. 1923 1-Cent
The 1923 small cent is the rarest date among Canadian pennies. The official mintage for this date is 1,019,022 and while a few more were struck than the lower mintage 1925, it appears as though far fewer survived. Low grade examples can sell for around $30-$50, while high end mint-state examples can sell for between $3,000-$10,000 at auction.
6. 1925 1-Cent
The 1925 small cent has the lowest mintage of all Canadian pennies. At just over one million strikes this is a rare penny indeed. A low grade example can cost about $30, while high grade mint state examples can fetch anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 at auction.
7. 1922 1-Cent
The official mintage for the 1922 small cent is 1,243,635 and they are tough to find. A low grade example can sell for about $20 with higher end mint-state coins selling for several thousand dollars at auction.
8. 1924 1-Cent
The official mintage of the 1924 small cent is 1,593,195. While the mintage certainly exceeds that of the much rarer 1923s and 1925s, it is still a very low mintage and when one considers the price trends for this date, I feel that this could be an undervalued coin. Low grade can sell for $10, while higher end coins can fetch several thousands of dollars at auction.
9. 1926 1-Cent
The official mintage of the 1926 small cent is 2,143,372. Low grade examples can sell for a few bucks, while higher grade coins can sell for thousands of dollars at auction.
10. 1921 1-Cent
The final coin on this list of rare Canadian pennies is the 1921 small cent. The official mintage for the 1921 small cent is 7,601,627 which makes it the least rare of all the denominations for the 1921 coinage. It’s not uncommon to find low end examples of these coins selling in coin shops for a few bucks, while higher end mint-state examples can sell for thousands at auction.
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 this article on rare Canadian pennies. If you’ve enjoyed this article, see my other articles on collecting and investing in rare coins:
Thanks for reading this article on the Top 10 Rare Canadian Pennies.