Canadian fifty-cent coin

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50-cent coin
Value0.50 Canadian dollar
Mass6.9 g
Diameter27.13 mm
Thickness1.95 mm
CompositionNickel-plated steel
93.15% steel,
4.75% Cu,
2.1% Ni plating
Years of minting1870–present
Catalogue number
DesignElizabeth II, Queen of Canada
DesignerSusanna Blunt
Design date2003
Design discontinued2023
DesignCharles III, King of Canada
DesignerSteven Rosati
Design date2023
DesignCanadian coat of arms
DesignerThomas Shingles
Design date1959, updated 1997
1871 Canadian 50-cent coin

The Canadian fifty-cent coin (French: pièce de cinquante cents) is a Canadian coin worth 50 cents. The coin's reverse depicts the coat of arms of Canada. At the opening ceremonies for the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint, held on January 2, 1908, Governor General Earl Grey struck the Dominion of Canada's first domestically produced coin. It was a silver fifty-cent coin bearing the effigy of King Edward VII.

Though it is regularly minted, it is not made in large quantities (approximate annual average production of 150,000), and since 2004 has only been available to the public directly from the mint.[1] It is very rare to encounter this denomination in everyday transactions, since there seems to be the mistaken belief among many Canadians that the coin itself is rare. Most times, when a 50-cent coin is exchanged in a transaction, it is saved by its recipient. People quite commonly, upon being presented with 50-cent coins, question the legality of the coin, because of the non-circulating status of the denomination. The coin occupies a similar status to that of the United States half-dollar coin. Vending machines do not generally accept it, even when they accept coins of both higher and lower value.

A largely unsuccessful attempt was made by the Royal Canadian Mint to promote the use of the coin when a special edition was released in 2002 marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth II to the throne. After this failed promotion, the mint stopped distributing 50-cent coins to banks and now sells them only in rolls or in coin sets available directly from their Numismatic Department at twice their face value, or $25 per roll of 25 coins.[2][3]

The mint's website lists the 2007 coat of arms 50-cent coin as "rarely seen yet replete with tradition".[4][5]

History of composition[edit]

Years Weight Diameter Thickness Composition[6][7]
1870–1919 11.62 g 29.72 mm n/a 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper
1920–1967 11.66 g 29.72 mm n/a 80% silver, 20% copper
1968–1999 8.10 g 27.13 mm 1.93 mm 99.9% nickel
2000–present 6.90 g 27.13 mm 1.95 mm 93.15% steel, 4.75% copper, 2.1% nickel plating

1921 issue rarity[edit]

A 1917 50-cent piece featuring King George V
A 1946 50-cent coin featuring King George VI

During the early to mid-1920s, demand for 50-cent coins was minimal. Only 28,000 coins were issued between 1921 and 1929. When greater demand for the denomination arose in 1929, the Master of the Ottawa Mint decided to melt the stock of 1920 and 1921 coins. It amounted to a total of 480,392 coins. The decision was due to the belief that the public would suspect counterfeits if a large number of coins dated 1920 and 1921 were placed into circulation. It is believed that 75 or so of the 1921 coins have survived, mainly from sets that were sold at the time.[8] Long known as the "king of Canadian coins", this coin brings a price commensurate with its rarity and reputation, with a high grade example (PCGS MS-66) having sold for US$227,546 (this price includes buyers premium but not the taxes) in a January 2010 Heritage Auction.[9] The highest graded specimen is graded by PCGS at MS-67 and sold (by Diverse Equities[10]) in the year 2000 to a private collector for the then sum of US$400,000. Today this coin would most likely bring US$1 million at an auction.

Condition rarity: Almost all examples are found in good to very good condition, which means in heavily circulated condition. Based on the ICCS report of 2012 only 1 has been graded in fine condition. A total of 0 have been graded in very fine and 0 in extra fine. There are also 6 known in AU condition. Only 3 mint state examples of the King of Canadian coins exist making it extremely elusive and desirable. On average a mint state example comes up for sale once every 10 years and draws a lot of attention from wealthy buyers.

Values in very good (VG-8) and gem mint state (MS-65): As of 2012 the value is estimated at US$45,000 in very good condition and is estimated at US$250,000 to US$350,000 in gem mint condition. These are average trends calculated by using prices sold in the past few years.

2000-P issue rarity[edit]

The 2000-P 50-cent coin is another Canadian numismatic rarity. Approximately 276 of the 2000-P 50-cent coins are known to have been minted. Each of these 276 coins was mounted in a clock as gifts to mint employees. This makes the 2000-P 50-cent coin one of the rarest Canadian half-dollars ever produced.

Commemorative editions[edit]

Image Year Theme Artist Mintage Special notes
1967 Canadian Centennial Alex Colville 4,211,392[11] Features a howling wolf
2002 Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II Cathy Bursey-Sabourin 14,440,000[12] 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne. Obverse shows her royal cypher "EIIR" instead of the usual "Elizabeth II".
2017 Canada 150 Ariana Cuvin 875,000 Features the Canada 150 logo

First strikes[edit]

Year Theme Mintage Issue price
2005 Coat of arms 2,298 $14.95
2006 New mint mark 5,000 $29.95


  1. ^ "50 cents". Royal Canadian Mint. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  2. ^ Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, Volume One, 67th Edition, W.K. Cross, Editor, p. 194, ISBN 0-88968-354-9, The Charlton Press, Toronto
  3. ^ "Special Wrap Circulation Coin Roll - 50 Cent - Mintage: 10,000 (2012)". Royal Canadian Mint. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  4. ^ "Royal Canadian Mint". Archived from the original on December 16, 2007. Retrieved November 20, 2007.
  5. ^ "Royal Canadian Mint". Archived from the original on June 22, 2007. Retrieved November 20, 2007.
  6. ^ "From sea to sea – the 50-cent coin". Royal Canadian Mint. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  7. ^ Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, 60th Anniversary Edition, W.K. Cross, Editor, pp. 139–153, ISBN 0-88968-297-6, The Charlton Press, Toronto
  8. ^ Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, 60th Anniversary Edition, W.K. Cross, Editor, p. 143, ISBN 0-88968-297-6, The Charlton Press, Toronto
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Michael, Thomas, ed. (July 29, 2016). 2017 Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000 (44th ed.). Krause Publications. p. 322. ISBN 978-1440246548.
  12. ^ Michael, Thomas, ed. (July 13, 2016). 2017 Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Date (11th ed.). Krause Publications. p. 248. ISBN 978-1440246555.