How to Identify Rare Canadian Coins

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The rarity of a coin depends greatly on its mintage or how many of the coins were produced and on the coin's age. There are two generally accepted "rarity scales" in the numismatic market: the Sheldon Scale and the Universal Rarity Scale. Both scales use the mintage as factor in measuring a coin rarity. Today, the Canadian mint produces the popular Maple Leaf, but there are some Canadian coins that are considered rare or unique by coin collectors and experts.


This article discusses how to spot a rare Canadian coin. The article and the examples used are not intended as investment advice. For investment advice consult your financial adviser. Use these ideas to help you identify some of the Canadian rare coins.

  • Identify key factors that affect rarity to spot rare Canadian coins. Features that influence the rarity status of a coin include: quantity of the coins minted (less coins more rarity), grade, age, interest of collectors, errors made in the coins, precious metals used; and certain variety of coins that have been minted with the same date and same mint mark but they look different.

  • Find Canadian coins made of silver or gold to identify rare coins. Many of these scarce coins were minted in early 1900s and were made with precious metals. For example the silver Canadian dollars (1911) and Canadian gold coins (1912-1914) are considered rare by collectors because they were minted in small quantity, are old and made of precious metals.

  • Look for Canadian error coins to spot rare coins. There were some coins minted in Canada with mistakes, such as in 1911 George V coins are missing the mint's translated abbreviation "by the grace of god". Examples such as these are rare coins because their mintage was stopped after the errors were discovered.

  • Search for low mintage coins to identify rare Canadian coins. These coins are considered rare because Canada didn't mint many of them. Some of the early 1900s fifty cents coins are considered low mintage and are highly valued by some collectors.

  • Review a numismatic "rarity scale" to learn about rare and unique Canadian coins. There are two generally accepted scales; the Sheldon scale and the Universal rarity scale. Using a scale a collector can find rare Canadian coins' rarity numbers. The Sheldon scale is limited with eight coin rarity categories. The Universal scale is larger in scope with 20 rarity categories. Read the rarity numbers and use them to find out how many coins were minted for each. If a coin is high on the rarity scale it means that there are not many of the exact kind. The scales are available on the internet.

  • Visit numismatic internet sites to learn about many of the rare and antique Canadian coins. Some of these sites are run by coin dealers and others by Canadian coin collectors. They list pictures of many rare and scarce Canadian coins. Also, check coin auction houses online to view rare coin galleries and prices realized through recent sales.

  • Photo Credit live.com
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