Volume 11 Issue 9                                INTERNET EDITION - Established 1996                                 September 2006

The name 'Tasmanian Numismatist' is used with the permission  of the Executive Committee of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society' however, any comments published in this privately produced newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society', its Executive Committee or its members. Bearing in mind our public disclaimers, the Internet links selected by the authors of this  newsletter are usually provided as a complimentary source of reference to the featured article in regard to: (1) Illustrations and, (2) to provide additional important information. 

Any notices of concern to 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society' members will be included in the 'Society Snippets' section.

We trust that this issue of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter will continue to provide interesting reading.




Anyone who wishes to apply for membership to the non-profit making organization, and who is prepared to abide by the rules of the Society and its aim of promoting the study and enjoyment of the hobby of numismatics, should contact the following address for an application form and details of subscriptions: 



Tasmanian Numismatic Society.

G. P. O. Box 884J

Hobart. 7001.



by Graeme Petterwood © 1996 - 2006


Remember - be astute when you are handed change - not all the wonders of numismatics have been discovered yet - and they don't have to be shiny and new! This edition again features an assortment of  'trivia' that I think is of interest and I trust it will prove educational and entertaining to you as well. 

All or any prices quoted in articles in this newsletter, unless stipulated, are estimates only and they should not be considered to be an offer to sell or purchase the items mentioned or used as illustrations. Please note that the photoscans of numismatic items are usually not to size or scale, but - wherever possible - they are from the authors' own collection or the extensive picture library of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist - Internet Edition.



Part 1- COINS

by Graeme Petterwood © 2006


Every newsletter like this should have a section for young - or new - hobbiests.

Please, forgive me for my recent neglect, and I hope that I don't forget you too often in the future - if you have questions I will try to help if you care to ask.

I must admit I have tended to forget your group, of late, and have only been writing for the more experienced coin or note collectors. 

We often try to say we are 'numismatists' - which means we are collectors of most things that look like money - and we study 'numismatics' - but try and say 'I am a new numismatist' fast two or three times - it's nearly enough to turn you (and whoever you might be talking to), right off because it sounds a bit too stuffy and stait-laced to be enjoyable so, for a start, you can remain a coin collector for as long as you like - or until you can say 'numismatist'.and know what it means. In fact, it means a great deal more than just coins and notes - and hopefully, in a later newsletter issue we can talk about some of the other things that are included in our hobby - like all sorts of tokens, and different types of medals, for instance.

Fortunately, I can still remember - once upon a long, long time ago - when I was just as tongue-tied and just as anxious to learn something about coins or banknotes - and I also looked for advice wherever I could find it.. Joining a coin club was one of the best decisions I could have made as a novice.

As this is an Australian site, I will concentrate on basic principles and refer to local products, in particular, as this is usually where our new collector's start .

However, the same principles apply no matter where a new numismatist happens to live - so let's start near the beginning.

I also hope this section will encourage our newest collectors (numismatists) to seek out information for themselves from other collectors, books and the Internet and enjoy the world's most educational hobby as much as I have - and remember, a suggestion is not always a rule - but it is offered in good faith for serious consideration.  Welcome to Part 1 (Coins) - 'Lessons for Learners'.



Coins in Australia are manufactured by the Royal Australian Mint.

DO - Think about joining a coin club if there is one near you. You will have to pay a small subscription to join - and the same again each year you stay with your club - and that helps with the cost of running the club and providing things like newsletters - and even nice awards occasionally.

New collectors can learn a lot from people who are interested in what you are also interested in, and, it you learn enough to be able to save wasting money on stuff that is rubbish, and how to take proper care of your collection, you will have done very well.

One of the first thing you will learn is the right way to touch your coins and handle your notes. Let's first talk about coins.

DO - Only pick coins up across the edges with your thumb and one finger just touching the metal on each side so you don't drop it . Treat a coin like you would a CD or DVD - don't grab it in the middle or with all your hand - or else wear thin cotton gloves.

Did you know that the skin on your hands - even after a wash - could have oils and acids that can leave nasty indelible fingerprint marks on new or shiny coins?

DON'T - If you find a coin that is already very dirty, and you can't just rub the mess off gently with a soft cloth, do not wash it with washing-up liquid (detergent) or use a scratchy pot-cleaner or anything like that to get it clean - and no soaking it in any famous brand of 'fizzy' drink or using a metal cleaner liquid. These things usually contain chemicals or abrasive grit that might take off the dirt but they will also ruin your coin

DO - You can use real soap in warm water and just rub it between your fingers in the water or use an old soft-bristle toothbrush to brush it gently and a wooden toothpick to get dirt from in between the numbers and letters, lastly, rinse it in clean warm water and pat dry it with a piece of plain kitchen paper. DON'T - Do not use tissues with Eucalyptus Oil, Aloe Vera or Vitamins  to rub coins because they are for your nose not your coins. If the coin is not too bad - it's better to leave it alone and don't even bother trying to clean it because you might scratch it - and scratched coins are not real collectable and they will definitely lose value.

DON'T - Even tiny scratches or marks are important when coins are 'graded'. - so don't drop them to see if they have a nice sound or if they bounce. Silver coins do have a nice sound if you flick them in the air and catch them - but don't risk being a 'butter-fingers' - better not to do it with your better quality coins.

DO - Learning to Grade a coin means that you look at it very carefully and try to estimate the difference it is to a brand new, unused coin and then you deduct points for scratches and dents or any other damage that spoils the look of the coin. Grading is something that takes a little while to learn but if you practice with your ordinary coins you will soon know the things to look for.

DO - Keep a watch out for 'Varieties or mint errors' - these are differences or mistakes that have been made at the Mint. These sorts of differences are hard for a beginner to know about, but there are catalogues available that explain the things that can happen. If you have something that looks unusual, always get a second opinion and let another experienced collector give you advice.

Some varieties have been deliberately made by the Mint for a reason and are well-known -  but others are real mistakes - and  some are very valuable -.


 Variety or Mint Error - Australian 10 Cent coin

A magnified 10 Cent coin reverse - and one with a error showing a die flaw (extra metal between the Lyrebird's feathers).

Photos courtesy of Dr. P. Briddon who first reported it - it was repeated over several years so it probably could be classified as a variety.


DON'T - Some collectors expect most of their coins to be valuable. As you learn, you will find out that it is not always the new shiny coin that is the most valuable - nor is it the oldest. This is why you should learn a little bit about collecting the right coin - not any or every coin.

Collect the best or scarcest coins you can after you get a bit of experience - even if you have to wait a bit longer to get them.

DO - There are a few items that you will need to get to help you grade coins - a good magnifying glass (and a small fold-up pocket eye-glass is also very handy - and professional looking enough to dissuade some dealers from thinking you are completely inexperienced) is essential and so is a coin book or catalogue that fully identifies the item and explains the names of the grades that are usually refered to wherever you live. They mean the same all over the world but sometimes coin conditions are explained a bit differently. 

Just to explain some of the main grading terms I use, I will try and make it simple - but this is something you will want to learn reasonably quickly and properly, so that, if you ever want to buy - or sell - coins, you will not be seen as a person who doesn't know the value of things.

There are 'in-between' grades as well and sometimes coins need to be graded with that in mind. Both sides of a coin need to be graded to be safe.

DO - If you are buying a packaged coin check if the pack is official and not a repack by a dealer. There is nothing wrong with dealer's packs - but it's nice to have the Australian Coat-of-Arms and Royal Australian Mint stamp (or your own county's Mint logo) on your pack.



If the coin comes in a display box or is encapsulated in a sealed plastic case or cardboard sleeve like any of those shown below  - DO NOT REMOVE IT to INSPECT or to STORE the coin.  DO NOT rip it, cut it or prise it open - unless it is designed to be undone and redone up again! 

Don't throw any of the main packaging away..

It could be essential that this packaging is keep in good order, particularly  if you wish to resell the coin at a good price 'as new'  - so put it away carefully with the coin. It will also help you preserve your coin in good order for the future - even if you don't intend to sell it.



If a coin has a well preserved obverse (heads) but a not quite as good reverse (tails) - it should be graded both sides. The grading should be shown with the obverse first.  Sometimes a coin will not quite meet expectations and this can be down-pointed in Australia to an 'About' grading for greater accuracy.

Different grading systems give various levels that coins can be down-pointed to - either by the letter (a - for About). or a plus or minus sign (+/-). or by a lower point number. The U.S. system is number based, and, as it is widely used, I will include the equivalent numbers here as well.

Proof coins will have a number no lower than 63 and can go as high as 70 for 'as good as it gets'  flawless pieces.

Uncirculated coins are classified as Mint State (MS-60) in the U.S. system - and the higher the number the better the coin.

Lower grades can also benefit from fine number grading if need be, but, usually, such fine grading is reserved for extra special 'big bucks' coins.

Example 1: Fine/Very Good plus (or F/VG+) or even About Fine/ Very good (aF/VG) or any combination to give a reasonable indication of its condition.

Example 2: Fine-12/Very Good - 8 (F-12/VG-8) and About Fine/VeryGood plus may be graded as F-10/VG-9, for instance.

If you live in the U.S. you can buy a book called the "Official A.N.A. Grading Standards for United States Coins - published by the American Numismatic Association' that shows most American coins at all the various grades - try to get a copy - even an old one - it would be a real asset to you.

Many coin catalogues also have general descritpions or illustrations of grading for you to refer to - as I have already stated, accurate grading is something that comes with practise and referral to others who have already acquired the practical.knowledge.


Proof (Proof or MS-63) -The top grading is reserved for virtually perfect coins that have been specially made by the Mint - these are called Proof coins and, at this point in time, you are probably not going to spend money on these. These are normally sent out in specially-designed sealed containers and cost a lot more than the face value of the coin. Face value means how much the coin would be worth if you tried to spend it.

Sets of these coins are called Proof Sets, however, individual coins can be made in this highest of qualities as well. They are often known as Non-circulating Legal Tender (NCLT) and, even though they are legal money, who is going to the shop to spend a coin that might be worth a real lot more to a collector. When you get a catalogue have a look at the prices of Proof coins compared to others.


1980 Australian Proof 6 coin set with frosted designs and highly polished fields.




Special packaging designed for individual .999 Silver Proof coins -  in sealed plastic holders

2001 - Centenary of Federation Proof Dollar with Australian Flag case. Removable star centre.

2004 Tasmanian Bi-centenary Proof $5.00 encapsulated and boxed. 

2005 - 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II (Holographic) Dollar with metal 'newsreel film' case.


Uncirculated (MS-60) - This is a coin that has never been damaged, scratched or rattled around with other change in your pocket - it looks brand-new even under your eyeglass. It might have a tiny mark or two but usually these are barely noticeable - they are usually caused when the coins bang together while they are being made or being packed - these are called Bag marks or Contact marks.and, while they are are expected, collectors prefer more perfect coins if possible. Coins straight from the Mint, or the bank, that have not been mishandled at all, are an ideal coin to collected.

Usually nice and shiny all over, some of these are often packed into special sets by the Mint and and sold for more than they would be worth if they were loose. Some collectors like these packs, because they contain nearly perfect coins, so they are prepared to pay the higher price. These packaged sets are usually called Mint Sets and the coins are identical to the millions due for circulation and not usually given any special frosting or extra special polishing.

Specially treated and individually packaged NCLT 'Specimen' (near Proof) quality coins are also issued by the Royal Australian Mint.




Packaged Uncirculated coins - do NOT remove the coins from their sealed packaging.

Tasmanian State Coat-of-Arms $10.00 Sterling Silver (.925) Uncirculated coin

 Australian 2004 Uncirculated Mint set containing the basic coinage range

Australian One Ounce Pure Silver (.999) Specimen quality Kangaroo $1.00 coins. Actual coin size 40.60mm

(Years 1997 - 2000 shown are stored in a 2 pocket note sleeve - each sample is also in its own plastic envelope)


Extremely Fine (EF-40) -This is the coin that you will probably think is uncirculated because it is nearly as good as the uncirculated one - except it may have an extra few small marks and tiny scratches and you know will it is not brand-new even though it still will be nice and shiny. Very collectable.

If you look carefully at the Effigy and the Field on both sides, you may see a little dull spot or two where the coin has rubbed against something.


1954 Royal Visit Florins with some very slight markings on the fields.

Actual size 28.5mm


Very Fine (VF-20) - This is the coin that most people - who normally don't collect coins - think is in 'excellent condition' and often are tempted to keep one especially if it is a special design. With your eyeglass you will see that the surface of the Fields and the designs or effigies are scratched, there will probably be little chips out of the lettering and the edge and rims will be slightly dented or flattened.


These are circulating coins that we call 'commemoratives'. Most of these samples would be graded as Very Fine.

In most cases they do not become very valuable because there are so many made - and everyone puts a few away.


Fine (F-12) - This is a grading just below Very Fine (VF-20) that can go up a bit or come down depending on just how much damage has been done during circulation.. It is a good idea to make a decision on what you think is a good and reasonable definition of Fine (F-12) - and stick to it - if you are buying.




Australian 1923 Bronze Half-Penny showing effigy and design wear and reverse field scratches.

Magnified to show flaws. Actual size 25.5mm diameter


Very Good (VG-8) -This is the lowest grade that you want to collect - unless you can't get anything better. The coin still looks reasonable if you don't examine it too carefully. Most people would describe it as being in 'usual circulated condition' if they were asked. There will be obvious wear on the effigy or design as well as the lettering and the beads or denticles around the rim. Some blotches may be noticeable on the coin surfaces and there may be deep dents into the edges or around the rims.


1928 and 1947 .925 Sterling Siver Australian Florins

1952 Australian Bronze Pennies

Typical 'Very Good' coins in circulation at the decimal change-over in 1966


Good (G-4) and Poor (aG-3 and lower) -  Coins in Good or Poor grade are worn out as a rule an all the main features are worn almost flat and sometimes you might not even know it's a coin. In fact, the samples shown below have been improved by the scan just so that you can see the features.

If a coin has been so badly worn or damaged, bent or had a hole drilled through it -it's obviously ruined even as a coin and it cannot be graded.

Coins of extremely low grades, particularly if they are silver coins, are then priced at the bullion price of the metal and are usually sold to scrap metal merchants. With cheap alloyed metals, like Copper-Nickel, being used these days most modern coins in these conditions are virtually worthless.

If someone tells you that they have a coin to sell you in 'good condition' - ask to see it or you might end up with something like these.....


Australian pre-Decimal Bronze pennies in 'Good' condition



Australian pre-Decimal Bronze Pennies in Poor condition  

 (New Zealand) 20 Cent Copper-Nickel coin worn flat, but undamaged - in extremely Poor condition


The catalogue numbers I use for world coins and notes are taken from the 'Standard Catalog of World Coins' and the 'Standard Catalog of World Paper Money' published by Krause Publications.

These are very good because they have a huge amount of information - the books come in 3 different Volumes to cover all the coins and notes from 1701 to now that a collector might want to know about - but they are not cheap - so I don't buy each of the Volume every year.

DO - Upgrade your large catalogues as you can afford to - or buy second-hand when you see any used ones on sale.

The pocket sized year books put out by local publishers are the cheapest and the handiest to carry around when attending coin and banknotes shows.

Try to get one or two different volumes of pre-loved Krause catalogues to use as as your main references at home.

When we talk about a coin we often use special names for the different parts - Heads (Obverse); Tails (Reverse); the flat bits on the obverse and reverse are called Fields. If there is a person's portrait on the coin it is called the Effigy - but if it is not human we can call it the Design; the actual edge of the coin is the thickness of the coin and sometimes right around the rims of the edge you will find little beads (Beaded Rim) or what look like teeth (Denticle Rim) - just sticking out into the Field. Have a look at some of the coins in your pocket or purse.

Coins can be stored really well if placed in a 2 inch x 2 inch foldover carboard holders. Several types are available - some are coated with an adhesive that needs to be moistened (don't lick them - use clean water on a cotton -bud ) and some others require fastening with staples - I prefer the staples because they can be removed if you wish to examine you coin and replace it afterwards.(Make sure that metal staples are carefully placed - as they may start to rust and,.if they left un-noticed for a long time, they could stain the cardboard holder and could even contaminate the coin if they are too close.)

These have various sized viewing holes covered in special cellophane and they can be stored in pockets in folders or in special 2 x 2 boxes designed to hold many coins. The white cardboard is also handy to write a few details upon regarding the coin.(see below).

Some coins have marks or initials on them that can tell you where they were made - these are called Mintmarks. Sometimes the initials of the coin designers are also on the coin - so you will need to refer to your catalogue to sort out if is a mintmark or someone's initials.

These are usually quite small and that is when your magnifying glass comes in handy.


 Economic 2 x 2 cardboard holders with see-through windows for holding various sized coins - these are ideal for beginners.

More expensive clip-together plastic cases are available for valuable coins. Coins shown are U.S. issues


Sometimes the Edge (the thickness of the coin) is flat and sometimes it has fine grooves across it from rim to rim and these are commonly called  a Reeded Edge - if it is a regular mixture of flat and grooves it is called an Intermittent Reeded edged coin. There are different sorts of grooved edging or even writing and fancy designs on coins of other countries as well.



Australian One and Two Dollar coins with Intermittent reeded edges.

Old 1960 Hong Kong Dollar with beading inside a centre-grooved edge - as well as fine reeding from the rims.

1953 Queen Elizabeth II United Kingdom 5 Shillings "Faith and Truth I will Bear Unto You" on flat edge


Most new collectors start with the coins that are in their pockets and then later they start to become interested in other coins from elsewhere because there may be something particular that they like.  You can make a 'theme' - some collectors like money with boats on them or birds or anything that looks good as a special group.



A very basic starter kit for new numismatists.

A pocket-sized catalogue, a 10 Power eyeglass, a magnifying glass, a Vernier slide ruler - ideal for measuring coins.


An assortment of numismatic tools is sometimes rather expensive to accumulate but don't be in too much of a rush. The items shown above are not expensive and you can add to them - or improve their quality as time goes by. A reasonably good catalogue like the one shown has already taken most of the hard work out of identifying Australian coins as well as giving the new collector a lot of technical information as well. Details of size, weight, what a coin is made of - plus who designed it - are all there.

Later you may wish to get a battery-operated electronic scale set (measurements in single Grams - not kitchen scales) These are expensive but very handy if you branch out and start collecting other numismatic items like tokens, medals and medallions.



The table below is an example of how you might want to record your World coins - or any other numismatic item you chose to collect.

The complete table should cover the coins from A - Z and each country should also be sorted by date, denomination (and catalogue order) - in this instance the Standard Catalog of World Coins is the main reference, but several other sources have also been used where needed.

Various precious metal coins can even be highlighted with a suitable colour if you are using a computer program that has access to background colours.


RUSSIA 1860- 10 KOPEKS .750 SILVER 20.1- V.F+  
RUSSIA 1868- 15 KOPEKS .750 SILVER 21a2 V.F  
RUSSIA 1869- 20 KOPEKS .750 SILVER 22a1 V.F Edge Knock
RUSSIA 1913- 3 KOPEKS COPPER 11.2- V.F Obverse Small Gouge
RUSSIA 1914 (mintmark BC) 20 KOPEKS .500 SILVER 22a1 UNC  
RUSSIA - C.I.S. 1993- 10 RUBLE C.N. 313- F. C'wealth Indep. States
RUSSIA - U.S.S.R. 1949- 3 KOPEKS AL.BRONZE 114- V.G U.S.S.R.
RUSSIA - U.S.S.R. 1957- 2 KOPEKS AL.BRONZE 113- V.G U.S.S.R.
RUSSIA - U.S.S.R. 1961- 2 KOPEKS BRASS 127- V.G U.S.S.R.


Next Month - 'Lessons for Learners' (Part 2) - Banknotes.


Main References:

Official A.N.A. Grading Standards for United States Coins (4th Edition) - published by American Numismatic Association.

The Pocket Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes (13th Edition) - by Greg McDonald

Royal Australian Mint - Internet site. Refer: http://www.ramint.gov.au



Over the past few years there has been a tendency for world coins to be reduced in size and weight and to be produced in base metals and alloys.

For a collector, it is a pleasant thing to be able to flaunt a nice big silver coin - but, in fact, the larger circulating coins are not all that popular in modern society because of their size and weight.  A plastic card takes up far less room so it stands to reason that large coins will disappear off the streets - many have!

A chance remark about a recent Canadian Silver Dollar acquisition by good friend and fellow 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society member, Jerry Adams of Texas, set my mind working and prompted me to have a quick look for similar Canadian items that I might have hoarded away.


The first Canadian circulation silver dollar, issued in 1935, featured the Percy Metcalfe designed effigy of King George V as the obverse and the reverse, which was to become known as the Voyageur, was designed by Emmanuel Hahn.  It shows a voyageur and an Indian in a canoe.



1958 British Columbia reverse circulation Canadian Dollar

1964 Quebec reverse circulation Canadian Dollar

1966 Voyageur reverse circulation Canadian Dollar

(Actual size 36.06mm., Weight 23.33 g., Composition .800 silver .200 Copper.)


Voyageurs were employed as traders and collectors of furs from the Indians and other itinerant trappers in Canada during the days of the Hudson Bay Co and other likewise organizations. On the Voyageur Dollars Hahn's initials E.H. can be located under the canoe at the left..

(It is interesting that Australia also has an engraver and medal-maker by the name of Hahn .....(?)

On the coin, the initials HB (for Hudson Bay Co.) are worked into the design of the front bundle in the canoe. The voyageurs hired by the Hudson Bay Co. would often travel by birchbark canoe up the many rivers and creeks and, unless they won the respect and trust of the people they dealt with, they could and sometimes did disappear - it wasn't a job for the physically weak or those who lacked resolve or bartering know-how.

They earned their place of recognition on Canada's first Silver Dollar - which, at that time, was 36.06mm in diameter and weighed 23.3g

The price of Silver had spiked upwards in 1966 and, all over the world, massive changes in coinage issues started to take place. The Canadian decision to withdraw Silver from circulation coinage was enacted in 1968 and an even larger 32.13mm Nickel Dollar (lighter at 15.62g) was introduced as the coin for the streets. The Voyageur reverse continued on circulation dollars throughout the reigns of George VI - and up until 1986 of Queen Elizabeth's reign.


During the same period, several Silver commemorative provincial dollar coins were issued as limited circulation coinage or were issued as single encapsulated coins or included in Mint sets and this procedure is still on-going. .

These were of .800 Silver and .200 Copper composition and weighed 23.33g.

In 1971, the Silver content was reduced to .500 for these boxed commemorative Uncirculated and Proof coins but, in 1992, just after a new 'Diadem' effigy of Queen Elizabeth II prepared by Dora de Pédery-HUNT was authorised for release, the Sterling Silver standard of .925 was resumed for the special Dollar coin issues.



  Canadian Commemmorative Dollars .500 Silver Proof Coins

1981 Trans-Canada Railway, 1982 Founding of Regina, 1984 Toronto Sesquicentennial, 1985 National Parks Centennial.

(Actual size 36.07mm dia.,  Weight 23.33g)

Each Proof set also contained a standard Nickel 'Voyageur' Dollar

(Actual size 32.13mm dia., Weight 15.62g)


It is also of extreme interest to Canadian 'variety' collectors that the 'Voyageur' Dollar coins - over the whole period of their lifespan - are absolutely teeming with variations. It appears that the R. C. M. engravers just couldn't leave them alone. You will need a catalogue to find the list of the main changes.


1982 Canadian Proof Set containing the 'Regina' commemorative .500 Silver Dollar as well as the Nickel 'Voyageur' Dollar.


In 1982 and 1984, the Royal Canadian Mint issued circulation nickel commemorative coins as well as the standard  Voyageur reverse. The 1982 was to celebrate the Canadian Confederation constitution and featured a depiction of the painting of 'Fathers of Confederation' as they gathered together at the signing. The 1984 commemorative coin. with a dramatic reverse designed by Hector Greville, was to celebrate the 1534  landing of the explorer, Jacques Cartier at Gaspé.

The Nickel Dollar was replaced in 1987 by the 26.72mm., 11-sided, Aureate Bronze-plated on Pure Nickel. Loon reverse Dollar, which only weighed 7 grams.This metal composition is currently used for all circulation Dollar coinage whether it be the now standard Loon design (which is also getting its fair share of modifications) or the increasingly regular issues of commemorative coins.


Aureate Bronze-plated on Pure Nickel 1987 Loon reverse circulation Dollar

(Actual size 26.72mm dia. Weight 7.0g)


Main Reference:

Coins of Canada (16th Edition 1998) - by J.A. Haxby and R.C. Willey



In keeping with our Canadian theme - the following article was contributed in July 1999 by Dominic Labbé, Editor of ‘Le Numismate’, the bi-monthly French language newsletter of the ‘Association des Numismates Francophones du Canada’ The A.N.F.C. also regularly publishes an Internet edition of its French language newsletter which can be viewed at:- http://www.cam.org/~anfc/anfc.html

As this article explains some of the reasons while 'voyageurs' were such an important segment of Canada's history, I have decided to reprint Dominic's research in full. Some sections of the article touch on the coinage of Canada which we have discussed in our previous article



by Dominic Labbé - reprinted from 1999 ©

In 1670, King Charles II of England granted Prince Rupert, who was the Governor at the time, and a trading company, the Company of Adventurers of England Tradeing into Hudson’s Bay (sic), a monopoly to control the fur trade in an area called the North West Territory of Canada, where the beaver -rich rivers flowed into Hudson Bay.

This company, the oldest still operating in Canada, grew to be known as the Hudson Bay Company.

The fur trade was the main economic activity during the first few centuries of Canada’s existence - in fact it continued right up until the 1800’s when timber exports and shipbuilding began to take the lead.

Like the other great world trading companies, the Hudson Bay Company assumed control and acted like a de facto Government within it’s license area - and it set barter exchange rates with the Indians and the white men known as ‘voyageurs’, for the furs they brought in.

The excellent Canadian furs, which were desired by the rich and fashionable Europeans, were exchanged for guns, gunpowder, tools and anything else that was of interest, or use, to the trappers.

Everything was valued according to beaver skin values and eventually the skin achieved the status of token currency.

In the early days, as barter between the Company and all other parties was the general rule, the Company also kept the accounts for the Indians and voyageurs who usually had more credit than what they had use for in goods.

Around 1854 the company officials thought it would be a good idea to coin some trading tokens for the East Main area near Hudson Bay, in an effort to place some responsibility back into the Indians hands instead of the accounting system which was proving to be cumbersome and financially inconvenient to maintain from the Company’s view-point.

It was a good, rational economic idea - but it was not well received by the Indians, who had no real understanding of the use of coinage at that time, and preferred the accounting system that had been used for the previous 150 years.

The Company had decided on 4 denominations of coins : 1, 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 NB - ( NB meaning New Beaver) - terms of value that they knew was familiar with the people they dealt with. The obverse of the coin displayed the Company Coat-of-Arms and the reverse read HB / EM/ (value) /NB.                       The meaning was Hudson Bay/ East Main/ (value)/ New Beaver. The diameter of the coins range from the size of a current Canadian 10 cents through to a Canadian 50 cent according to the denomination of the token. These token coins are now generally very scarce and are often found with a hole gouged through them which is presumably either, a sign of cancellation or else, a provision for them to be kept on a string.

During the late part of the 19th. Century, other tokens were coined for the Labrador and the St. Lawrence - Labrador Districts which ranged, in denomination, from 1, 5, 10 and 20 Made Beaver (Made Beaver was the ‘best’ quality dressed beaver skin).

The value of each coin was shown on both sides with the Hudson Bay Company name circling the value on the obverse, and the name of the District used in similar fashion on the reverse.

The next emission took place in 1905, when an octagonal aluminium series in ‘cent’ values was introduced for the Yorkton district in Saskatchewan. The denominations reflected the changing character of the Hudson Bay Company’s trading style, and ranged from 5, 25, 50 cents and also a 1 Dollar token coin made its first appearance.


The aluminium token was again produced by the Company for the ‘True North’ after the Second World War, in 1946, but this time in a circular format with no set district area designated. To keep with tradition, perhaps, a special square token was also coined in this series with a value of ‘1 White Fox’, whilst the basic circular ones were marked from 5, 25, 50 and 100 cents.

During that period of metal shortages, paper script was also issued by some districts - some were printed while others were hand-made - all of these are rare and very expensive when they become available on the market.

The Hudson Bay Company also found its way onto the Canadian regular coinage.

Firstly, on the George V circulating silver Dollar, called the ‘voyageur dollar’, which appeared in 1935 to celebrate the 25th. Jubilee of the monarch. This was also the first circulating Canadian Dollar coin - in 1911 two Pattern silver Dollars are known to have been struck in London and a lead Pattern in Ottowa, but the Dollar denomination was not released at that time.


A special depiction was prepared, by designer Emanuel Hahn, of an Indian and a voyageur paddling a canoe in the wilderness under the Northern Lights - part of the canoe’s cargo of bundled furs bore the incused initials ‘HB’ for Hudson Bay Company.

This design was so popular that it remained on the Canadian coinage for many years with only interruptions for the few commemorative coins that occurred in 1939, 1949, 1958, 1964 ,1967,1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1982 and 1984.

From 1968 the 80% Silver Dollar had become 99% Nickel - but still retained the ‘voyageur’ theme and continued with few minor, but well documented, modifications until 1987 when it was replaced by the aureate bronze ‘Loon’ Dollar.

In fact the ‘voyageur’ theme was set to continue on, but apparently the new modified dies were lost between the Head Office and engraving facilities in Ottawa and the coin producing plant in Winnipeg, when the new sized coin was in the final stages before minting. With a deadline to meet, an unused stock design was hurriedly decided upon - and that was how the Loon appeared on the 1987 dollar coin - and it has continued until this day.

In 1995, a non-circulating Silver Dollar was issued for the 325th. Anniversary of the Hudson Bay Company and it depicted two Frenchmen, named Des Groseillers and Radisson, who had assisted the original English trading company to start up operations at Fort Charles in 1670.

The Hudson Bay Company is still operating today with two large retail store chains - ‘The Bay’ and ‘Zellers’.

Hundreds of these stores are scattered across Canada - and, up until a few years ago, they still had a fur trading counter and retail operations in the most remote northern parts of the country.


Illustrations supplied by the author

Additional References :-

‘Coins of Canada. 16th. Edition 1998.’ by J.A. Haxby and R.C. Willey. Published by The Unitrase Press.

‘Striking Impressions. 2nd. Edition 1986.’ by J.A. Haxby.



Silver 'dollars' from anywhere are a very nice large size coin to collect and I always think of T.N.S. member T.W. (Bill) Holmes O.A.M. when large Silver coins are discussed - even though his speciality was Silver Crown coins from all over the world.

(Bill was an avid collector of all sorts of Silver in his heyday - but boy! - did he know his Silver Crown business. I have also resurrected an extremely informative article Bill wrote for this newsletter back in July 1998. Due to ill-health, Bill put the majority of his collection up for auction, in Sydney, some years ago and, unfortunately, it was broken up into smaller lots and dispersed into the Australian market.)



by T.W. ‘Bill’ Holmes. O.A.M., A.F.S.M. - reprinted from February 1998 ©

Since the introduction of decimal currency - with my collection of Australian coins as complete as it is ever likely to be - I, like many others, looked for another field to collect. The range was wide, so - for a while, I collected many items. Coins of the U.S.A. interested me a little, especially the silver dollars.

My interest in Australian coins was still being maintained, but the decimal series was really no great challenge as it was very easy to just order a set or two from the Mint, as they became available, and so keep the series in uncirculated condition.

I then made up my mind to restrict my collecting to two main areas - Crowns of the world, and Australian commemorative Medallets and Medallions.


When deciding on Crown collecting I narrowed the field a little. First and foremost - I would collect only SILVER Crowns! Then - what types?

I gradually formed ideas of my own on the field that I wanted to collect! The Silver Crown must be of 36 mm. (or bigger) diameter and must contain at least .500 fine silver.  (If the coin is less than .500 fine, I consider it to be a coin with ‘silver content’ only and therefore not as desirable.)

At first I found it hard to get specialised information on world Crowns, as the only specialist study had been done by Dr. John S. Davenport in 1944 and, whilst he published 8 more works over the next 35 years, his catalogues are not easy to find - and one had to pick out information on Crowns from other more general numismatic sources.

Dr. Davenport mainly specialised in European Crowns (mainly Germanic) and, in all, had listed over 10,000 pieces from this area - he had started to list others in his later works but, unfortunately, time caught up with him.

However, in 1994, Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishler produced a standard reference of Crowns, the ‘Standard Catalog of World Crowns’, which to me was a far more satisfactory reference as it encompassed a world-wide reference of Crowns - and - just as importantly, it was- (and still is)- readily available in Australia through Bob Roberts’ Wynyard Coin Centre in Sydney.

I believe than this catalogue is a must for any serious collector of world Crowns as it comprehensively covers the complete range of crown sized coins including thalers etc. in all known coin production metals.

Coins like the Australian States series of $10.00, the Kookaburra series and other individual commemorative coins - and even the Australian 50 cents are listed. These items do not really fall in to my own defined ‘crown’ category as they are NCLT (Non-Circulating Legal Tender) coins but, because they are very near to or exceed 36 mm. and have a high silver content, they do qualify in some respects and do have appeal to many collectors.



Another preference of mine is for Crowns struck for circulation - which, in the main, means those struck before the early 1960’s. (It was at that time that the rising price of silver caused circulating silver coins to be phased out, especially the larger crown sized coinage.)

However, a new field then opened up - Crown-sized silver coins were then minted in many countries, in many degrees of fineness, either as proof coins or as collector pieces.

The issue price was considerably higher than either the bullion price or denomination of the coin, and, whilst many of these coins are quite attractive, they are turned out in huge numbers. (Austrian mints are prolific issuers of these coins.)

Where a proof coin like this is struck- and there is a circulating piece of the same type for general issue - I am inclined to collect some of the more attractive issues, but I do not collect cased (slabbed) proofs.


Back in the era when silver Crowns were struck for circulation, Germany and Austria and the Austrian States struck millions - but they are pretty expensive to buy at today’s prices. Egypt also struck many Crowns - often of a commemorative nature.

One has to be very careful when dealing with Chinese and Chinese provincial Crowns as many of the millions struck are counterfeit.

(Even the Chinese were very suspicious of their own coins and would hit them with a cleaver to check the silver - these are known as ‘Chop-marked’ coins.) [Refer our article on a recently obtained counterfeit Chinese Dollar http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/july06.htm ]



Counterfeit Chinese Kiang Nan Province Crown-sized Dollar


The Swiss ‘Shooting Talers’ are also a very collectable series as they were struck over a long period, but, with one exception - an 1855 issue from the Canton of Solothurn - they were really medallic issues and not legal tender even though they carried a 5 Franc denomination.

The Solothurn issue was identical in design to the official 5 Franc of the time, but had an edge inscription which read - ‘Eidgen Freischiessen Solothurn’.

It was during the late 1840’s that the districts, or cantons, of Switzerland were gradually being drawn together to form the Confederation of Switzerland but, until they became united, many of these cantons had their own mints and had issued 4 and 5 Franc coins under their individual district name, and these would also qualify as silver Crowns in most cases.

With Krause and Mishler’s catalogue embracing the whole world, I feel it has kindled more interest as we were now able to identify many more Crowns from, particularly, the Americas, Africa, the Near and Far East and the Indian sub-continent.

Several countries have produced a ‘one-off’ Crown or, perhaps, a ‘one-off’ series.

In 1883, during the reign of King Kalakua, Hawaii had a silver Dollar coin struck at San Francisco mint. These are a highly desirable coin and much sought after.

In 1892, South Africa, under President Kruger, issued a silver Crown-sized 5/- Shilling piece. There are two varieties of this Crown, the most common (but not so easily obtained), has a wagon, with a single shaft, on the reverse; but much scarcer is the coin showing a reverse with a double-shafted wagon - and a different wheel configuration.

Great Britain have been issuing Crowns, or 5/- Shilling coins for several hundreds of years and, of all these issues, the most popular amongst collectors are the Crowns of the Commonwealth, under Oliver Cromwell, and the early ‘Gothic’ Crown of Queen Victoria.

New Zealand’s Waitangi Crown of 1935 is another ‘one-off’ Crown and, because of it’s very low mintage, it is a much sought after coin that is getting more expensive to obtain.

Several countries, particularly in the latter part of last century, struck silver ‘trade’ dollars, of Crown-size, for use in the countries in which they had trade interests. Great Britain, U.S.A. and Japan were issuers, and, even today, the Austrian Marie Theresa Thaler is still being struck for use in parts of North Africa and several Arab states.


Maria Theresa (restike 1957 Vienna) Silver Thaler (83.33% Silver and 16.66% Copper)

(Actual size 39.5mm dia. Weight 28.07g)


Australia has only had one Crown type of it’s own if we do not count the Holey Dollars (which were actually Spanish coins adapted for use here in 1813).

The 1937 Crown of 5/- Shillings was intended to be a commemorative coin to celebrate the coronation of King George VI, but the subsequent issue of a 1938 Crown rather spoilt that concept!



Australia 1937-8 Sterling Silver Crowns ( .925 Silver, .75 Copper)

(Actual size 38.5mm dia. Weight 28.27g.)


I have found it hard to obtain Crowns from Afghanistan, Argentina, Albania, Bolivia, Columbia, Cambodia and Switzerland - but this could be just because of local supply and demand problems.

Probably the U.S.A. silver dollars, my first introduction to silver Crown-sized coins, are, for the most part, the easiest to collect - or at least they were - when I started on that particular series some 35 years ago!

I was able to get a few rather nice early to mid 1800’s silver Dollars by trading with a couple of U.S. collectors, who were interested in Australian coins, and then I decided to collect, at least where possible, a year set of the most attractive Morgan and Peace type silver Dollars.

The Morgans were struck at 5 mints in all - Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City and, in one year only, at Denver. The series was struck between 1878 -1904, and again in 1921, in mintages numbering hundreds of millions and, as they were often stored in bank vaults in bags of $1000, it is still possible to obtain coins in E.F. to UNC. for a reasonable price.

The mint-marks are O - New Orleans, S - San Francisco, CC - Carson City, D - Denver, with no mint-mark on coins from the Philadelphia Mint.


U.S. Silver Dollars (.900 Silver, .100 Copper) - Philadelphia Mint

(top row) l. to r. 1898 Morgan Dollar reverse - 1903 Morgan Dollar obverse (toned)

(bottom row) l. to r. 1922 Peace Dollar reverse (toned) - 1923 Peace Dollar obverse

(Actual size 38.1mm dia. Weight 26.73g)


Providing a collector does not want to collect a coin from each mint for each year of issue there should be no problem, however, Carson City Mint is the hardest to collect and, because of low mintages between 1892 - 1895, Morgan dollars struck during this period are also just a bit harder to obtain.

The Peace Dollars, which were struck in 1921-1928 and again in 1934 -35 are not hard to collect in comparison.

I am fully aware I will never be able to collect a silver Crown from every country - but it is a goal, and therefore helps me keep my interest in an important facet of our hobby. Fortunately, I was able to lay the foundations of a good collection years ago - before rising prices took over, due to the sky-rocketing inflation in the bullion price of silver.

In conclusion,  there are signs that things are becoming more stable now so - perhaps - I can still hope to pick up the odd, desirable Crown in my travels!  .........




Additional Reference:

The Pocket Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes (13th Edition) - by Greg McDonald



They often say that the sins of our past will catch up with us - well, one possible moment of carelessness might have caught up with me

The following email was received a few days ago and it is self-explanatory. I thank the sender for pointing out a perceived error in our 2004 newsletter: http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/feb04.htm  regarding one of our Tasmanian Tradesmen's Tokens.



I. Friedman Pawnbroker of Argyle Street, Hobart - 1857 bronze token


**A137 - 140* Half-Penny 1857 27mm (4 Variations) - Rarity 1 & 2.
[quote] Figure of Justice seated on a bale with TASMANIA above and 1857 in exergue [/quote]
"Hi There,

It's not JUSTICE on the token - it's COMMERCE.

JUSTICE is always represented seated on a dignified throne and it's balance is never horizontal as it decides who is guilty and who is not.

On this token, we have a balance that's horizontal as COMMERCE is supposed to be FAIR, as opposed to JUST.
Also, the cornucopia indicates it's about wealth, not about law. Sorry for my limited English skills. Thanks for making that page."


Whilst I cannot find an actual quotable reference, at this time, to a standing or bethroned Lady Justice's scales not being evenly balanced - I did locate a quote from the Internet at Wikipedia -the Free Encyclopedia - about Lady Commerce's scales.  Refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aequitas

"In Roman mythology, Aequitas, also known as Aecetia, was the goddess of fair trade and honest merchants. Like Abundantia, she is depicted with a cornucopia, representing wealth from commerce. She is also shown holding a balance, representing equity and fairness. During the Roman Empire, Aequitas was sometimes worshipped as a quality or aspect of the emperor, under the name Aequitas Augusti.

Aequitas is the source of the word 'equity', and also means "equality" or "justice" - so perhaps the depictions of both of the ladies with the scales are one and the same depending on your own idea of commerce and justice. The Cornucopia is the defining item that separates the two meanings.





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