The 1936 Dot Set
If you watch The Crown, a Netflix series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II, you will remember that her uncle, King Edward VIII, fell in love with American divorcée Wallis Simpson and, in December 1936, abdicated rather than give her up. Edward’s brother—and Elizabeth’s father—Albert subsequently became King George VI.
The abdication of Edward VIII had implications for the Royal family and the succession, but did you know that it also affected Canada? It wasn’t merely a divisive topic over the dinner table, pitting Edward’s supporters against those who thought it “just wasn’t proper.” It had a big effect on our money.
Early in 1937, Canada experienced a shortage of 1-, 10- and 25-cent coins. Normally, the Mint would have filled the void using the new dies for 1937, but their production had been delayed owing to Edward VIII’s abdication. To meet the emergency, the Mint struck coins using dies from 1936. A small impression was added to the reverse dies, creating a raised dot on coins struck from those tools that distinguished them from the 1936 coins.
The 1936 dot coinage has drawn much attention from domestic and foreign collectors of Canadian coins since knowledge of its existence was made public about 1938–39. As coin collecting became a popular hobby in postwar Canada, clubs were formed across the country and collectors eagerly searched their change, looking to assemble complete date sets of Canadian coins. The dot coinage was recognized as rare, and the 1-cent coin in particular became something of a Holy Grail for collectors—always sought but never found. Coin dealers placed ads offering to purchase the coins. Even the producers of the new Whitman storage folders, with their convenient die-cut holes into which young and old alike could press their new-found treasures, left spaces for these rare pieces in their products.
In April 2016, Robert Lafortune graciously donated a 1936 coin set, including the three dot pieces, to the National Currency Collection. The set had been in the possession of his family since the early 1940s when his father, Maurice Lafortune, purchased the set from the Mint, his employer.
To say the set is rare is an understatement. This is the only intact set known to exist. Two other sets were sold to prominent American collector and businessman John J. Pittman in 1951 and 1954. One set was stolen from his home in April 1964 and subsequently dispersed; the second set was sold piecemeal in 1997 when Pittman’s collection was auctioned. The 1-cent and 10-cent dot pieces are also two of Canada’s rarest coins. Despite Mint Master Walter Clifton Ronson’s 1952 confirmation that 678,823 1-cent and 191,237 10-cent pieces had been placed into circulation, only three 1-cent pieces and five 10-cent pieces are known to exist beyond those in the present set. This discrepancy is a mystery that has never been adequately explained.
It’s a new year—the perfect time to look back at some notable artifacts the Museum added to the National Currency collection from 2022. Each object has a unique story to tell about Canada’s monetary and economic history.
The dollars and cents we use wouldn’t be worth anything to anybody if we didn’t have confidence in it. No matter if it’s gold or digits on a hard drive, public trust is the secret ingredient in a successful currency.
People on the street were randomly stopped and searched, and some were even arrested and imprisoned in an internment camp. Even German marks replaced Canadian currency in circulation—in the form of If Day propaganda notes.
The imagery on the Bank of Canada’s 1935 note series depicts the country’s rich industrial history.
In 1812, British North America had no banks and little currency. With the prospect of war drying up supplies of coins, the government of Lower Canada decided to issue legal tender notes called “army bills” to pay for troops and supplies.
What was proposed was a complete about-face from the philosophy behind recent security printing. If photocopiers could easily deal with the colours and designs of the current series, then the next series should be bold and simple.
From windmills and solar panels to electric cars, signs of the green economy are all around us. Check out our resources for how to teach about the green economy.
Introduce important financial skills to your children, and help them plan for their futures with free resources from the Bank of Canada Museum and others.
COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on the economy: closing businesses, driving down demand and interrupting supplies. With news stories and popular culture addressing inflation and supply chain issues, now is the perfect time to explain this key economic concept to your high school students.
Few of us have ever met her, and it’s likely none of us are even remotely related to her. Yet, Canadians have carried her picture in their wallets for generations now. She’s Queen Elizabeth II and has been our monarch for over 70 years.