The first truly Canadian coin was struck between 1912 and 1914.
It would be an interesting coin for any serious collector, given its first-of-a-kind status, but the story around the gold $10 coins struck over a century ago is one of mystery and discovery.
It’s a story that has made the 1912-1914 Canadian Gold $10 coin a legend.
Let’s start at the very beginning of the story.
Canada’s First Gold Coin
Canada produced its first gold coin in 1908, but that was a UK Sovereign.
Four years later, came the $10 gold and it was unmistakably Canadian.
Just like the Sovereign, it features King George V on the obverse, but the reverse bears a shield with the Arms of the Dominion of Canada.
Almost all of the gold used for the coins came from the nearby Klondike River Valley in the Yukon Territory, the site of one of the largest and most frenzied gold rushes in history.
With the outset of the First World War, the Canadian gold coin program was closed in favour of gold bars.
As Canadians fought the war, its government took a tight hold of its gold reserves, with almost all of the coins produced for circulation never reaching the public.
Instead, they were tucked away in the vaults of the Bank of Canada.
Time passed and it seems the gold $10 coins were simply forgotten by all but a few.
Researcher James Haxby identified the likely whereabouts of the coins in his 1983 book Striking Impressions: The Royal Canadian Mint and Canadian Coinage, but unusually, nobody in the collecting world was really aware of them.
A prominent coin dealer in Canada told Coin World back in 2015 “They’ve been a legend for the last 100 years. Every 20 or 30 years someone would discover that they were there.”
Canada decided to unload its gold reserves from 2000 to 2005, but the 1912 to 1914 coins were spared. In fact, they were the only coins that were left.
Then, late in 2012, the Bank of Canada and The Royal Canadian Mint announced that 30,000 of the $10 and $5 Gold coins would be released as “high-quality treasures of Canada’s numismatic past”.
They sold out instantly.
200,000 Coins Melted
And now there are no more out there because over the course of a few days, more than 200,000 gold coins were melted.
Approximately 95,586 ounces of gold was melted for a total value of $113,060,275 (US) at the time of melting.
The Royal Canadian Mint melted 35,341 of the .900 fine gold $5 coins, each weighing 8.36 grams and 179,881 of the .900 fine gold $10 coins, each weighing 16.72 grams.
These coins are iconic. History-making when they were first struck, they became legendary because of what happened next.
If you’re interested…
In my many years in the collecting world, I have never even seen one of these coins, let alone held one, but I am currently looking at 10 of these legendary coins on my desk.
They are authenticated to be from the Canadian Hoard and safely sealed in a tamper-proof capsule, keeping them in the best possible condition.
I have to say, I have never seen a 100 year old plus coin in such excellent state. As they never saw the light of day, let alone hands, pockets or purses, these coins are incredibly well-preserved.
If you’d like to make one yours, you’re going to have to be exceptionally quick.