Past & Nearly Perfect now available

By Henry Nienhuis

Coin & Stamp Supplies, a division of Trajan Media, is now offering the latest book from acclaimed Las Vegas collector Rob Turner, who has been collecting and studying Canadas Victorian cents for 40 years.

Now available for $49.95, Past & Nearly Perfect is a 174-page hardcover book exploring the pattern, trial, proof and specimen large cents coined by the Royal Mint (Heaton) and the Ottawa Mint from 1857-1920.

Some of these fascinating coins serve as a step-by-step guide of how the adopted designs evolved,” according to Turner, whos a Fellow of the Canadian Numismatic Research Society and began collecting Canadian decimal coinage as a teenager in Maine during the 1960s.

“Others were coined as presentation pieces for dignitaries, collectors, and museums. Collectively, they represent the finest, and some of the rarest, Canadian large cents known to exist.”

The 1911 reverse punch (top) was raised from a matrix prepared by Blackmore. The die (bottom) probably struck the two 1911 ‘DIE GRA’ pattern cents (Charlton DC-5). The 1911 reverse matrix, from which this punch and die were derived, was probably sent to Ottawa late in 1911. (Photos by Rob Turner and courtesy of the Royal Mint Museum)


With full-colour photos and population estimates for each type of special-strike cent, the book is Turners fifth since 2007.

“Rob Turner, Bowman Award-winning author, has once again knocked it out of the ballpark with his new book, Past & Nearly Perfect,” wrote Royal Canadian Numismatic Association past president Henry Nienhuis in a review of the book. “Turners latest work focuses on the extremely rare Patterns, Trial Pieces, as well as the Proof and Specimen coins which exist in the Canadian Large Cent series; from the early design of the first provincial cent to the last large cent issued by the Dominion in 1920. While it is somewhat of a departure from his previous four books that deal with in-depth die studies of Canadian Victorian Large Cents, he continues to apply his exacting and in-depth research methodologies to this new subject matter. It is a worthy addition to the most discerning numismatic libraries.”

A 1911 pattern cent with the revised ‘DEI GRA’ legend is shown above. Two copies, one in the U.K.’s Royal Mint Museum and another in the Bank of Canada’s National Currency Collection, are known to exist. (Photos courtesy of the Royal Mint Museum)


Written from the perspective of who made them and why they were made,” Turner includes a detailed history of the people and events associated with the production of these extremely rare numismatic treasures.

Past & Nearly Perfect documents the role played by key people, such as Alexander Galt, Thomas Graham and Charles Fremantle, in the development of Canadian coinage that resulted in the production of these special strikes. This also includes many interactions between the Canadian government and the Royal Mint in London.

“In Past & Nearly Perfect, Turner applies his extensive knowledge of die production and usage in the Canadian Large Cent series to the subject matter, as well as his first-hand detailed research in the archives of the Royal Mint Museum in Llantrisant, Wales,” wrote Nienhuis.

“With a quick glance through Turners new book I think youll agree that it is obvious that the author has taken meticulous care assembling the many high-resolution, full-colour images; many of which were taken during the course of the authors research and have never been seen before.”

A 1920 specimen cent, one of two known examples, is shown above. The other example is held in the National Currency Collection. (Photos courtesy of the Royal Mint Museum)


The book is divided into eight chapters with three appendices.

The contents include:

  • Chapter 1, “Proofs, Specimens, And Other Confusing Things”;
  • Chapter 2, “Designing a Provincial Cent”;
  • Chapter 3, “Postdated Coins and Other Oddities of the 1870s”;
  • Chapter 4, “The Change to Dominion Cents”;
  • Chapter 5, “Heaton Specimen Cents”;
  • Chapter 6, “Victorian Specimen Record Cents”;
  • Chapter 7, “Later Royal Mint Specimen Cents”;
  • Chapter 8, “Ottawa Specimen Cents”;
  • Appendix A, “Record Coins Sent to Other Museums”;
  • Appendix B, “Special-Strike Large Cents in the NCC”; and
  • Appendix C, “Bibliography.”

Turner donated the book to the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) and will receive no compensation from its sale. All proceeds will go towards the RCNA, which received financial assistance for printing the book from the J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation.

To order a copy, visit

For more information about Turner and his research, visit his website at

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