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Royal Stamps and Coins in Canada

Since the Reign of Victoria, who was Queen at the time of Confederation in 1867, Canadian monarchs have appeared on many postage stamps and banknotes, and on all our coins. Look at the back of the change you have in your pocket to see this is true, as well as your wallet or purse if you’re lucky enough to have a $20 bill! Visit a Canada Post outlet, and while of course there are many different stamp designs, each post office is required to offer for sale the “definitive” stamp (a stamp that must always be available to pay for an ordinary letter) of The Queen.

Of course using the Sovereign’s image on a stamp (the picture is sometimes called an ‘effigy’) is partly to honour the monarch and to celebrate special events in the life of Canada and our Royal Family, such as the 100th birthday of The Queen Mother in 2000, The Queen’s Jubilee in 2012 or the birth of Prince George in 2013. You will find some examples of Canadian Royal stamps here. Additionally you can do a Google search and see many other Royal stamps issued by Canada, by Commonwealth countries and by other countries which are monarchies, such as our friends in Europe: Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

In the case of coins’ bearing the monarch’s image, there is a special purpose that goes back many centuries when countries first began to create special dies so that coinsmiths could make a standard pattern of coins which everyone could recognize and rely on, and which the country could guarantee was “the real thing” and not a counterfeit or fake. To demonstrate the coins were truly those of the country, coins bore the King or Queen’s image. Anyone counterfeiting coins was considered to have committed a crime directly against the monarch – and could suffer some pretty horrible punishments!

Here you can see coins with images of Canada’s monarchs as issued by The Royal Canadian Mint . Notice that during a long reign, when the monarch’s appearance changes over the years, the Mint occasionally commissions a new image of the same monarch. This is similar to what might happen at home: your family may have a picture of you as a baby next to another picture of you taken perhaps at your high school graduation.

Other coin designs appear here.

Stamp collecting (called “philately) and coin collecting (called “numismatics”) used to be very popular hobbies – probably not so much now. But one of the greatest stamp collections in the world is that of The Queen, passed down from her grandfather George V. You can read about it here as well as find a lot of other interesting information and stamp designs.