On today’s date in 1857, the British Treasury approved the weight of the Province of Canada’s new coinage – a 20-cent piece – at 71.73 grains (or 4.65 grams) of 0.925 per cent Fine silver.
The proposal was made by the master of the Royal Mint and – according to the May 1964 issue of The Ontario Numismatist (Vol. 3, #5) – it was also decided the coin’s diameter would measure 23.25 millimetres.
On July 17, 1858, Queen Victoria approved the coin’s design for the coin. Both plain- and milled-edged patterns were struck. The colony ordered $150,000 worth of 20-cent coins – about 750,000 pieces altogether – which were engraved by Leonard Wyon and struck at the Royal Mint.
“The Toronto Leader and other newspapers objected to the striking of the 20-cent piece instead of a 25-cent piece,” reads the May 1964 issue of The Ontario Numismatist. “It was accepted as an equal to the Halifax shilling which was worth the same value. The coins were used in the Post Offices and for legal tender payments.”
The official publication of the Ontario Numismatic Association, the article continues: “The 20 cent coins are type items necessary for any collection. A well struck copy is a joy to behold and own; a reminder of the growing pains in our achieving decimal currency.”
Relatively unpopular at the time, the 20-cent piece was only struck in 1858 before being replaced with a new 25-cent coin in 1870.