OTD: Royal proclamation restores ‘Dei Gratia’ to Canada’s ‘Godless’ coins of 1911

On today’s date in 1911, a Royal proclamation restored the words “Dei Gratia” (Latin for “By the Grace of God”) to all forthcoming Canadian coinage.

Earlier in the year, on July 1, a proclamation had removed the words “Dei Gratia” from Canada’s coins. The Royal Mint asked Canada’s Department of Finance to choose between obverse designs in English or Latin, the latter of which was chosen; however, Finance Minister William Fielding didn’t notice the proposed inscription lacked the words “Dei Gratia” when approving the design.

Stocks of the 1910-dated circulation coins were rapidly depleting by the time the new production tooling arrived from England, so Canada was forced to issue “Godless” circulation coins in 1911.

These “Godless” coins caused such controversy in the ensuing months that the phrase was returned to Canada’s coins for the following year.

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