Guide to Canadian coin collecting

Coin and currency collecting, known as numismatics, was the “hobby of kings” in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Today, it’s a way to feel history in the palm of your hand. There are several reasons to collect coins: as an investment, a challenge, a form of collecting rare metals, or just a way to relax. For many, it is a great hobby.

Here are some steps you can take to start your own Canadian coin collection.

Acquire the Tools of the Trade


The Royal Canadian Mint recommends a few tools for the budding numismatist – a magnifying glass with seven times magnification, a reference book, a tracking method (software, notebook, or index cards), and a storage area (album, drawer, or a safety deposit box). While these tools are suggested, there really isn’t a need for specialized equipment. Finally, don’t forget to have passion.

Building Your Collection


The Royal Canadian Mint produces over 1 billion coins for circulation yearly that are minted in the following denominations: 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar, and 2 dollars. While the effigy of the monarch adorns the face of the coins, the reserve design continues to change, much like the diverse culture of Canada has over the years.

As you learn more about these coins – like the beloved “Toonie,” which was introduced in 1996 to replace the paper bill – you’ll be able to start identifying changes in appearance. This also can coincide with years where a lower yield of coins minted creates a rarity for a specific denomination. In 1998, less than 5.5 million Toonies were minted, yet over 30 million were minted in 1997. This makes the 1998 coin rarer and, with coin collecting, rarity is highly coveted.

Finding a Club


Finding those who share a similar joy in collecting coins will make this hobby even more rewarding. The Royal Canadian Numismatic Association “is devoted to serving those who enjoy coin collection/numismatics by promoting fellowship, communication, education and providing advocacy and leadership for the hobby.”

If you need help learning the ropes or are looking to compare and contrast your collection with that of other numismatics, joining a coin collection club is the right place to start. There are even some outposts in the United States, in case you decide to move south and need to feel a little closer to home.

Handle With Care


Circulated coins usually show signs of wear, but uncirculated coins, or proofs, have yet to be exposed to human contact. To preserve a coin’s finish, you’ll need to employ proper handling techniques. Holding a coin by the edge instead of by the faces will help ensure that oil and dirt do not damage it.

Additionally, never rub your coins in an attempt to clean them. Cleaning the coin can damage the metals and leave you with a worthless coin (from a collector’s perspective). While the general rule of thumb – don’t clean the coin – exists, there are suggestions it your are attempting to clean a coin that has been in circulation. You never use any solvent that is acid based. You’re looking for non-destructive solutions, such as a soak in distilled water with a little soap may help to remove grease and grime.

Most Important Rule

Ultimately, coin collecting will only give back what you put into it. People take different roads to become a coin collector, but if you assemble your toolkit, do your research, start your collection, meet up with other collectors, and take care of your prized coins, you’ll uncover the inner numismatic inside you.