While there is no law specifying that Canadian coins have to bear the portrait of the current monarch, this has traditionally been the case. It appears that the tradition will likely continue as the Royal Canadian Mint has indicated that it does not plan to mint any circulation coins featuring Queen Elizabeth II dated 2023 – suggesting it does intend to release circulation coins featuring a new portrait of King Charles III later this year. Nevertheless, to commemorate the Queen’s reign, the RCM is releasing a special Collector’s Edition of non-circulation coins featuring her portrait. The coins can be purchased separately from dealers like Colonial Acres, in sets, or in special wrap coin rolls. The special wrap rolls are available as individual rolls or in a special coin roll set. The wrapping features a band of royal purple.
Why Is Purple Associated With Royalty?
Originally, the only way to dye cloth purple was with a pigment derived from a certain species of mollusk. These mollusks only lived in a specific region of the Mediterranean Sea, near the city of Tyre. Located in present-day Lebanon, Tyre was an important trade centre of the ancient civilization of Phoenicia.
To produce a single gram of Tyrian purple dye, as it came to be known, it was necessary to harvest over 9,000 mollusks. Dyeing fabrics purple was labour intensive, which translated to a higher price. Purple became associated with royalty because members of royal families were amongst the few people wealthy enough to afford it. In England, Queen Elizabeth I formalized the association between purple and royalty by passing Sumptuary Laws that made it illegal for anyone to wear purple except members of the royal family, meaning that wealthy non-royals weren’t allowed to wear purple even if they could afford to do so.
In 1856, an 18-year-old English chemist was trying to develop a synthetic version of the anti-malaria drug quinine. In the process, he discovered a synthetic purple dye that would make it accessible to the common people, the Sumptuary Laws having since gone by the wayside. Nevertheless, the association between purple and royalty persists to this day and is reflected in the rolls of coins in Canada commemorating the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
What Is Special About the Design of the Coins Themselves?
Each non-circulation Queen Elizabeth II coin in the set bears the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II designed by artist Susanna Blunt. This portrait of a mature queen, unadorned except for a pair of earrings and a string of pearls around her neck, has appeared on Canadian circulation coins since 2003. It is one of four effigies of Queen Elizabeth that have appeared on Canadian circulation coins since the beginning of her reign in 1952.
Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign is the longest in the history of the British monarchy. These commemorative coins are double-dated with the years 1952, the first year of the queen’s reign, and 2022, the year of her death. Separating the two dates is a configuration of four raised “pearls,” each representing one of the four effigies of the queen that appeared on Canadian coins during her reign.
Though these are non-circulation coins, they do bear the familiar reverse images used on circulation coins in Canada for decades.
Why Should You Invest in Coin Wrappers Canada Representing Queen Elizabeth II?
Queen Elizabeth’s death represents the end of an era in Canadian coinage. While the old coins will not automatically go out of circulation, it is unlikely that Canadian circulation coins will ever bear her image again. The special wrap coin rolls show respect and honour for the Queen’s memory by banding the coins with the regal colour of purple. These coins and rolls are a beautiful and valuable addition to any collection of Queen Elizabeth memorabilia.