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Canada Melts First Circulating Canadian Gold Coins

Canadian gold coin melt

By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek …..

In 2012, the Bank of Canada announced the sale of 30,000 hand-selected specimens from a hoard of about 245,000 gold coins stored in cloth bags and locked in its vault since the 1930s. The $5- and $10-denomination circulating gold pieces were minted between 1912 and 1914, and are among the first gold coins ever minted in Canada.

The remaining 215,000 coins were melted this month.

As one of the Conservative Government’s several efforts to sell off public assets, the coins were liquidated in order to help balance the federal budget and avoid raising taxes. Until now, the hoard had been maintained as an asset of the Exchange Fund Account (EFA), which is overseen by the Minister of Finance. Proceeds from the sale of the numismatic-quality pieces will be returned to the EFA in the form of fixed-income securities.

The History

The Ottawa Mint opened in 1908 as a branch of the British Royal Mint, with a mandate to produce circulation strike coinage for the domestic Canadian market. Circulation strike gold coins were also produced to take advantage of gold finds in the territories and provinces.

With the advent of World War I, the Canadian Government recalled the gold coins from circulation and kept the unreleased stock in reserve. Nonetheless, some coins remained in collectors’ hands.

A market in the surviving coins has flourished ever since. Reaction to the 2012 sale among some collectors was reminiscent of reactions in the United States to the GSA sales of Morgan dollars in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

The Coins

The $5 and $10 face value gold coins both consist of 90% pure gold, with the remaining 10% made up primarily of copper to enhance durability and add color. The $5 gold coin weighs approximately eight grams; the $10 gold coin weighs about 16 grams.

These coins were the first in Canadian numismatic history to feature a symbol of Canada. The reverse contains a shield bearing the Arms of Dominion of Canada, surrounded by wreaths of maple leaves. Above the shield is the inscription CANADA, and below it is the year and denomination.

The obverse features the portrait of British monarch King George V, who ruled from 1910 to his death in 1936.

The Sale

The 30,000 coins deemed of the highest quality by Mint personnel were divided into two categories: Hand-Selected and Premium Hand-Selected, the difference being that a consumer could either pay a premium to be guaranteed a piece of the highest quality or pay regular price for an item chosen at random from the available supply.

The coins were sold exclusively through the Royal Canadian Mint. According to the Mint, purchasing options included:

  • Premium Hand-Selected 6-Coin Set (140 sets – $12,000 each); 840 coins total
  • Premium Hand-Selected 1912, 1913 and 1914 $5 single gold coins (291 coins – $875 each)
  • Premium Hand-Selected 1913 and 1914 $10 single gold coins (4,869 coins – $1,750 each)
  • Hand-Selected 1912, 1913 and 1914 $5 single gold coins (5,050 coins – $500 each)
  • Hand-Selected 1912, 1913 and 1914 $10 single gold coins (18,950 coins – $1,000 each)

Premium Hand-Selected product options accounted for 6,000 of the 30,000 gold coins, while Hand-Selected options accounted for the remaining 24,000.

The Bank of Canada Hoard of $5 and $10 gold coins went on sale starting November 28, 2012 and shipped a month later on December 28. The purchase of each Premium Hand-Selected collectible was restricted to one per household and Hand-Selected items were held to a household limit of three per option.

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Hubert Walker
Hubert Walker
Hubert Walker has served as the Assistant Editor of CoinWeek.com since 2015. Along with co-author Charles Morgan, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the monthly column "Market Whimsy" for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing.

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  1. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE HARPER GOVERNMENT?! If they were so interested in making a profit, why not sell the remaining coins as well? They would have brought in far more than their melt value. Apparently Canada’s conservatives, like so many elsewhere, “know the price of everything and the value of nothing” (Oscar Wilde).

    • It cost money also to melt the coins such as the heat source and paying people to do it, it would be better and cheaper to just sell the coins.

  2. It’s a sad day when quick money is more important than heritage and history. These coins can never be replaced and could have realized more had they been offered to the general public. The RCM is constantly pumping out ‘Numismatic’ coins that are really of no value other than spot gold or silver and have no historic interest. Why not save some of the money spent on the precious metals used for these instead of melting these beautiful coins.

  3. I hate the sale process because it was not done fairly. Insiders got the early news on the sale and pounced on the rarer ones that were priced the same as non rare ones. General public learned of coin sales only weeks afterward, and get the leftover. Second part that is unfair is GST levied on gov’t issued circulating money. Govt collected $40.3 million from the sales of gold coins and $2 million extra in GST.


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