The birth of the Loonie

On today’s date in 1987, Canada’s first $1 coin was struck.

Canada’s $1 eleven-sided circulation coin was introduced by the Royal Canadian Mint on May 8, 1987, as a cost-saving measure to replace the old dollar bills. Instantly dubbed the “loonie” after the lone loon that’s found on the coin’s reverse, its nickname has been used ever since. The loon design was created by wildlife artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael. More than one billion of these coins, which were composed of aureate bronze plated over a nickel core, were manufactured between 1987 and 2012.

After depending on single-metal compositions such as gold, silver, nickel and copper for much of its early history, the Mint adopted alloy compositions in the late-20th century to reduce the cost of producing coins of a lower denomination. Finally, at the turn of the century, the Mint patented its multi-ply plated steel (MPPS) technology, which made its debut on Canada’s 1-, 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-cent circulation coins.

Canada's new loonies include a single laser mark of a maple leaf positioned within a circle on its reverse.

Canada’s new loonies include a single laser mark of a maple leaf positioned within a circle on its reverse.

MPPS technology allowed the Mint to control the plating thickness of the alternating layers of nickel or brass and copper, providing greater flexibility in the development of the electromagnetic signatures compared to those generated by non-plated alloy coins of the same dimensions.

The Mint is the only coin manufacturer in the world to employ this process and has been producing MPPS circulation coins for a growing list of international customers ever since.

As of 2012, Canada’s $1 and $2 (known, of course, as the toonie) coins use MPPS technology. Additionally, the Mint has added visible security features such as laser mark micro-engraving on both coins, as well as a virtual image and edge-lettering on the toonie.

Canada’s dollars through the years (source: mint.ca)

1935-67

1935 silver dollar

1935 silver dollar

 

Composition: 80 per cent silver, 20 per cent copper

Weight (g): 23.3

Diameter (mm): 36.06

Thickness (mm): 2.84

1968-82

Composition: 99.9 per cent nickel

Weight (g): 15.62

Diameter (mm): 32.13

Thickness (mm): 2.62

1982-86

Composition: 99 per cent nickel (minimum)

Weight (g): 15.62

Diameter (mm): 32.13

Thickness (mm): 2.55

1987 – the Birth of the Loonie

Composition: 91.5 per cent nickel, 8.5 per cent bronze plating

Weight (g): 7

Diameter (mm): 26.72

Thickness (mm): 1.95

1988-2002

1988 dollar

1988 dollar

Composition: 91.5 per cent nickel, 8.5 per cent bronze plating

Weight (g): 7

Diameter (mm): 26.5

Thickness (mm): 1.75

2003-12

Composition: 91.5 per cent nickel, 8.5 per cent bronze plating

Weight (g): 7

Diameter (mm): 26.5

Thickness (mm): 1.95

2012-now

Modern loonies

Modern loonies (image provided by the Mint)

Composition: multi-ply brass plated steel

Weight (g): 6.27

Diameter (mm): 26.5

Thickness (mm): 1.95

Includes a single laser mark of a maple leaf positioned within a circle on the coin’s reverse.

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with the numismatic community

Sign up to receive our newsletter.

Canadian Coin News

Canada

Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $47.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.