The first Canadian cent was minted in 1858 and had a diameter of 1 inch (25.4 mm) and a weight of 1⁄100 pound (4.54 g). These cents were originally issued to bring some kind of order to the Canadian monetary system, which, until 1858, relied on British coinage, bank and commercial tokens (francophones calling them sous, an historical term from the French currency), U.S. currency and Spanish milled dollars. The coin’s specifications were chosen with the intention of the coins also being useful as measuring tools. However, their light weight compared to the bank and merchant halfpenny tokens readily available at the time was a serious hindrance to their acceptance by the public. Some of the coins were even sold at a 20% discount, and were inherited by the Dominion government in 1867. Fresh production of new cents (with the weight increased to 1⁄5 ounce or 5.67 grams) was not required until 1876.
The large cents of 1858–1920 were significantly larger than modern one-cent coins and even slightly larger than the modern 25¢ piece (its diameter being 23.88 millimetres or 0.940 inches). After Confederation, these large cent coins were struck on the planchet of the British halfpenny and were roughly the same value. Pennies were issued sporadically in the third quarter of the 19th century. They were used in the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia upon Confederation in 1867. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had issued their own coinage prior to that date, with British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland continuing to issue “pennies” until they joined Confederation. The coin was reduced in size to its current size to match the size of the American penny.
The Canadian large one cent coin is a beautiful tribute to Canadian history. Like all Canadian coins, the obverse depicts the reigning Canadian monarch at the time of issue. The reverse features on ornate wreath of maple leafs, the official Canadian symbol.
Coin Weight: 5.67 g
Metal Content: Copper (95.5%), Tin (3%), & Zinc (1.5%)
Available Sizes: 5 – 10