As a Commonwealth country, Canada has included the likeness—or ‘effigy’—of the reigning monarch on its coins since the Royal Canadian Mint started production in 1908.
Four different versions of the current monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, have appeared over the years: in 1953, 1965, 1990 and 2003. The Mint also issued a special 50-cent Golden Jubilee circulation coin in 2002, replicating the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that appeared on the 1953 Canadian Coronation Medallion.
Victoria with “Laurel Wreath”
Queen Victoria was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great grandmother. The reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) was the longest in British History until September 9th, 2015 when Queen Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria’s record as the longest serving monarch. Victoria’s first effigy, often called the “young head” first appeared on coins dated 1838. This effigy captured the features of a young woman not yet twenty years old, yet with minor modifications the portrait was used until the queen was nearly seventy.
Victoria with “Crown”
A new royal effigy was introduced in 1887, the queen’s golden jubilee year. Queen Victoria now appeared as an aging, veiled, albeit crowned widow. The portrait proved unpopular and a final effigy, the “veiled” or “old” head appeared in 1893. This effigy captured Queen Victoria’s image as the aging, regal matriarch of the British empire.
Edward VII (1902-1910)
Edward VII was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s great grandfather. The Latin inscription appearing around him reads EDWARDVS VII DEI GRATIA REX IMPERATOR (or D:G REX IMPERATOR, depending on the denomination), both of which mean “Edward VII, by the grace of God, the King and Emperor.”
George V (1911-1936)
George V was the grandfather of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and appeared with the Latin inscription GEORGIVS V DEI GRA:REX ET IND:IMP, which means “George V, by the grace of God, the King and Emperor of India.” For part of 1911, coins did not include the DEI GRA part of the inscription and became known as the “Godless” coins.
George VI (1937-1952)
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s father appeared in effigy on Canadian coins until his daughter’s Coronation in 1952. Until 1947, the inscription accompanying his image read GEORGIVS VI D:G:REX ET IND:IMP or GEORGIVS VI DEI GRA REX ET IND:IMP (depending on the denomination). After India became independent in 1947, the ET IND:IMP, which meant ?George VI, Emperor of India,? was discontinued.
Elizabeth II (1953-1964)
The effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II first appeared on Canadian coins in 1953 when she was 27 years old. The effigy pictured here was used until 1964, with the inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA, meaning “Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, the Queen.”
Elizabeth II (1965-1989)
Elizabeth II (1990-2002)
A new effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was unveiled in 1990 when she was 64 years old. This was the first to be designed by a Canadian, Dora de Pédery-Hunt, and the coin kept the ELIZABETH II D G REGINA inscription.
Elizabeth II (2003-present)
Another Canadian artist, Susanna Blunt, designed the most recent effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, again accompanied by the words ELIZABETH II D G REGINA. Blunt’s version recalls the effigy of George VI, who also chose to be portrayed without a crown.
Guide to Coin Collecting – Index