Canadian Maple Leaf Coins 1947-1948
In August of 1947 India was granted independence from England. Since all Canadian coins of George VI had the legend “GEORGIVS VI D: G: REX ET IND: IMP:”...roughly translated as “George VI by the grace of God, King, and emperor of India”, the coinage all needed some modification. No longer could any coins claim that George VI was emperor of India.
After World War II, the Canadian economy was improving, the population was growing rapidly, and there was a need for a larger output of coinage to meet this. During the war certain coins...especially the silver dollar, either had reduced mintages, or were suspended.
Since a new obverse die would be required to strike the 1948 coins, and the matrices and punches did not arrive in time from the Royal Mint in London for minting them, the Royal Canadian Mint faced a big problem. They needed to produce coins...but could not, as they did not yet receive the new design from England. In early 1948 they came up with a clever idea. They continued to mint coins with the 1947 date so they could keep the same obverse, but to differentiate these coins from the ones actually minted in 1947, they put a small maple leaf just after the date. This would avoid confusion with actual 1947 coins.
This is not the first time the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) has applied this solution. In 1937 the RCM was waiting for the master tools from London to produce the first coins of George VI after the passing of George V and abdication of Edward VIII. Since they did not arrive on time, an emergency issue of 1936 25 cents was made with a dot on the bottom of the coin showing that it was actually coined in 1937. Although scarce, many 1936 dot 25 cents survive and it is an interesting collectible. 1936 1 and 10 cents were also made with a dot, but only a handful of specimen coins survive, as the whole mintage was remelted in mid 1937.
In mid 1948 with the new design received, coins with the actual 1948 date were struck...but by this time much of the required coins were already made with the 47 maples. This explains why most Canadian coins with the 1948 date are much rarer than other years. For example a much used coin like the 10 cent...10 million were struck in 1948...but only about 4% of them with the 1948 date...the others are all 47 maples.
For collectors this has created two classic rarities of the Canadian coin series. The first and most popular is the 1948 dollar of which only 18,780 were struck (consider the 1949 mintage was 672,218). Second rarity...and an extreme one at that, is the 1947 maple leaf 50 cent with the 7 curved right. As discussed in a previous article, very few survive (likely less the a couple hundred), and the coin is worth thousands of dollars in nice condition.