Each of the series’ six coins – ranging in denomination from five cents to $2 – depicts classic Canadian numismatic design work. The recently issued 50-cent coin features Canadian engraver Thomas Shingles’s Canadian Coat of Arms design, which was first issued in 1959 and has been used continuously on Canadian 50-cent pieces with only two exceptions.
The design depicts a yellow lion holding a blue, white, and red Union Jack flag on the left and a white unicorn holding a blue flag bearing three yellow French fleurs-de-lys on the right support a central shield divided into five sections bearing historical emblems of England, France, Scotland, and Ireland as well as a sprig of three red maple leaves. The multi-coloured shield is encircled with a red ribbon representing the Order of Canada bearing the motto Desiderantes meliorem patriam, which means “desiring a better country.” The shield is surmounted by a yellow, green, and black royal helmet within a garland of red maple leaves, upon which stands a yellow crowned lion holding a red maple leaf.
St. Edward’s Crown, symbolizing Canada’s constitutional monarchy, rests above the lion, which symbolizes Canada’s sovereignty. The motto A Mari usque ad Mare (“from sea to sea”) appears in yellow on a blue ribbon below the shield, along with a “compartment” or garland composed of the floral emblems of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland. The reverse is also engraved with the word “CANADA”, the date “2016” and the face value of “50 CENTS”. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
Canada’s 50-cent coin reflects the intriguing history of Canada’s evolution from a British colony to an independent nation. It was the first Canadian coin struck at the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint when it opened in 1908, but the Canadian 50-cent coin is rarely used everyday commercial transactions; in fact, upon acquiring one of these low-circulation coins, many people are quick to save and collect it because of its apparent value. Since 2004, the 50-cent coin has only been sold directly from the Mint as a collector product.
The coin, struck in .999 per cent Fine silver, has a weight of 157.6 grams, a 65.2-mm diameter, and a mintage of 1,500 pieces.