Collectors eye coins, banknotes as QEII dies after 70-year reign

By Jesse Robitaille

Collectors and the general public are vying for numismatic material related to the late Queen Elizabeth II after the long-reigning monarch died on Sept. 8.

The queen’s death followed a 70-year, 214-day reign, during which she became Britain’s longest-serving monarch. Her numismatic legacy spans the Commonwealth of Nations, a collection of more than 50 countries, including Canada, which she headed throughout her time on the throne. Her effigy has appeared on at least 33 different worldwide currencies – more than any other monarch – including many billions of Canadian coins and nearly 20 of the country’s banknotes.

Her death brings with it a “new era in the history of the Mint and of Canadian numismatics,” according to a recent statement from the Royal Canadian Mint. In the transition to this new age, one in which the late queen’s son and newly named King Charles III will serve as the monarch, dealers have seen an increased demand for queen-related coins and banknotes.

“Most client interest seems to be in the Royal Canadian Mint collector’s items that have honoured her over the last several decades, especially the newest launches commemorating her platinum jubilee,” said Ian Laing, the owner of Gatewest Coin in Winnipeg, who added he and his staff “have most definitely seen an increased interest in QEII material.”

“Since her death, we have seen these sought-after items increase in price three times or more.”

Laing has a “wide range” of clients – “generally over 30 years of age” – seeking queen-related material because people “recognize the huge world event her passing and her reign have been,” he said.

“There seems to be a lot of love for the late queen in Canada, and a lot of people want a memento of her reign because she is the one and only royal most of us have ever lived with.”

With four effigies across Canadian coins and several other portraits on the country’s banknotes, the queen has “certainly had an impact on Canadian numismatics,” Laing added. He pointed to “memorable collector’s pieces” such as the 1954 “Devil’s Face” notes from the Canadian Landscape series plus the 2015 “Historic Reign” $20 commemorative bill.

“As much as for the most part, the obverse is generally not the focus of numismatic interest, we do regularly see clients who like to collect examples of each unique effigy. And it’s certainly unique in Canadian numismatic history to have needed so many effigies over the years as our reigning monarch ages.”

West-coast dealer Brian Grant Duff, the owner of All Nations Stamp & Coin in Vancouver, B.C., has also seen more demand for queen-related material in the weeks following her death. As with Laing, Duff has seen “demand from largely middle-aged buyers who grew up as the queen aged” plus other, more far-flung, buyers from Hong Kong and Iran.

“Buyers and resellers appeared in shops and online immediately following her death,” said Duff, who echoed the Mint’s statement, calling it “a new era of collecting.”

“Most are lapsed or non-collectors looking primarily for keepsakes but who are not afraid to spend some money for the right piece. U.K. and Canadian issues are sought after, and it gives dealers a chance to move some otherwise tired stock. As usual, crown-style silver and copper-nickel issues are best loved. I only wish the Mint and Bank of Canada would issue memorial coins and banknotes to put the finishing touches on Her Majesty’s remarkable numismatic run and reign.”

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