Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Side Collection

With the great expense of buying these hammered coins, it was always a question whether it was a thrill to get one of them or if it was a drag because of the expense.  I wanted to get more coins, but I needed something that was less of a drain.
My father was American, born in Massachusetts, but he spent many years in Canada after my grand-parents divorced.  In later years, when he had married and was living in the great metropolis of Littleton, Maine, he continued to go back to the Kars and Hatfield Point area of New Brunswick, to help out his sister and her family with hunting(literally) for food and work that was not possible for her and her youngish children.
So, Canadian coins were very much a part of his life, including the fact that Canadian coins were part of the daily scene in the State of Maine, especially where I grew up on the eastern border.
I decided to collect a penny for each of the years of my father's life as a gift for my sister.  He was born in 1908 and died in 1955.

The Canadian penny has gone through a number of transformations, just as the American has.  We in the US have seen Steel pennies, Lincoln on the obverse, the Lincoln monument, Wands of wheat, Indian heads etc.

Here is Edward VII on a 1908 large penny.  These were made in this size till 1920, when both sizes of penny were available.
Edward pennies were available from 1902 to 1908.
Edward was Queen Victoria's son.  He was not considered a good candidate for king by Victoria, but once he was crowned, he turned in a very creditable, skillful and popular performance.
This time was popularly known as the Edwardian Age, much like Victoria's Victorian Age.  Cool, refined elegance in fashion and arts, unlike the rather florid and dark Victorian.
Look at "My Fair Lady" for an example of the style(interpreted in the 1960s) or "Upstairs Downstairs".(the first series). 
One might also get some sense of the time period in the "Anne of Green Gables"  books by Lucy Maude Montgomery.  Published in 1908, they really tell about the years immediately preceeding the subject Edwardian age, and perhaps the last in the series of books being more in this time period.   Traditional daily life did not change quickly, and you might argue that this lifestyle continued in rural places right up to the fifties in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.


In Canada, they change the coins with each sovereign; they have changed the size, sometimes two sizes at once and the design on the reverse has changed.
In the time period I am collecting, there have been four sovereigns.  In the early years Edward VII appeared...later came George V...then George VI and Elizabeth II.  Of course Edward (THE IDIOT) VIII was only king for a few months, and coins were not issued in that time.  There were coins issued in many of the commonwealth countries and colonies, but in England 8 proof coins were made, six are in museums, two are in the hands of collectors(one just sold for  516,000.00 pounds) and none went into circulation. 
There were also ten thrupenny bits made as an experiment.  I am not aware of any in Canada, though I have seen some from some fantasy coins of the provinces, like Newfoundland pictured below, but this one too, was a fantasy coin.  Those coins that were made featured Edward facing left.  The funny thing is that Edward chose to be depicted facing the same direction as his father.  The tradition was to do opposite directions in succeeding reigns.  He was concerned that he would be depicted using his BAD SIDE!!!!

Notice the variations in the maple leaves on these coins.

Here we have left the large cent behind and are using a cent the same size as a US penny.
Pennies from the mid 20s are quite expensive 1922, 24, 25, 26 can be a bit high, and 1923 can be through the roof as pennies go.
George said that he was always afraid of his father and that his children would also be afraid of him!  He famously changed the family name to Windsor, dropping all the German names and titles that Albert brought with him when he married Victoria.  He reigned from 1910 to 1936.  He was married to Princess Mary of Teck, a rather formidable woman, but they were completely devoted to each other.  His reign bridged the First World War, and his son was to bridge the second.


Here is the Edward VIII Newfoundland fantasy sovereign, obviously not a penny, but since this is one of the only examples of a coin circulated, real or otherwise from his reign, I thought I might as well include it as an illustration.  This one goes from $25 to $115.00.
He was king from January 20 to December 11 of 1937 but was never crowned.



So, here is George VI who became king on the abdication of his brother Edward (the IDIOT) VIII.  He is the father of Queen Elizabeth I and led a tragically short life after years of devoted service through World War II. 
George was depicted in the movie, "The King's Speech"  Never intended to be king, his speech impediments were never considered a great problem.  When the insanely popular Edward abdicated, Bertie(George) was completely unprepared, and overcame a number of issues including his stuttering.  He was never happy being king, and in the spotlight as he was.  The problems were greater as national and international media made him a household name, with pictures and recordings that were unknown on any scale for his predecessors.  They may have had faults, but I really admire this guy for doing the inspiring job he did, especially through the war years. 
He died in 1952, just months before I was born.


Here is the last one, 1955 Elizabeth I.  Canadian pennies are no longer made and are not in general circulation any more.
Elizabeth took up the throne in 1952 and reigns still at this writing.  She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2012, the same year that the pennies were discontinued.  Despite her Annis Horribilis, and many other media problems, she remains very popular even in her 90s.
The last pennies were minted in 2012.  You can find pennies that are copper plated zinc, and some that are copper plated Steel,  Obviously, the steel penny can be picked up by a magnet. The one in the picture above was for my father's death year at 47 years old.

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