On today’s date in 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a new generation of $1 and $2 coins – loonies and toonies, respectively – with updated laser etching security features and a patented multi-ply plated steel technology, making for long-lasting coinage.
Instead of traditional alloys, the new loonies and toonies are now manufactured using the same multi-ply plated steel technology found in the current 25-cent, 10-cent, 5-cent and former 1-cent circulation coins. The process covers a steel core with alternating layers of metals, like copper, nickel and brass.
While the new loonie keeps the traditional loon design, there is one visible change: a single laser-marked maple leaf positioned within a circle on the coin’s reverse, around the loon design. The laser marks are produced during the striking of the coins using a contrasting pattern micro-engraved on the coin die itself. With a diameter of 26.5 mm and a height of 1.95 mm, the new loonies weigh 6.27 grams.
Similar to the loonie, the toonie has an additional two laser-marked maple leaves, each within a circle, at the bottom of the coin’s reverse. Edge-lettering of the words “CANADA” and “2 DOLLARS” are engraved along the coin’s outer edge. With a diameter of 28 mm and a height of 1.75 mm, the new toonies weigh 6.92 grams. Before 2012, the toonie consisted of an aluminum bronze inner core with a pure nickel outer ring; however, the composition of the inner core switched to aluminum bronze coated with multi-ply plated brass, and the outer ring switched to steel coated with multi-ply plated nickel following the changes. The Mint stated the multi-ply plated steel technology, already used in Canada’s smaller coinage, produced an electromagnetic signature that’s more difficult to counterfeit than regular alloy coins.
However, not everyone loved the updated coinage – later that year, CBC News reported the new coins were creating problems in the vending industry.
“Lighter loonies and toonies are creating problems for those who use coin-operated machines, including municipalities which must upgrade their equipment to accept the new coins,” explained the story. “A January article in the Canada Gazette, the official newspaper of the Canadian government, estimated there would be a one-time cost of $40 million to the vending industry as a whole to recalibrate ‘coin acceptance equipment.’”