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The Penny, Coins of The Great White North: 1 Penny (Canada, 1984)-Article

Updated: Apr 14

This 12-sided Canadian coin represents the smallest denomination of the Canadian Dollar. Notably the Canadian Penny ceased production in 2012. Although while still technically considered valid currency. In practice it's use has become obsolete. Since 2013 all Canadian stores stopped issuing pennies as change. As such all cash sells in Canada are rounded to the nearest 5 cents.

The coin is 19.1 mm (0.75 in) wide and 1.45 mm (0.57 in) thick. Due to the shallowness of the sides its similar size to the US Penny. Canadian pennies of the period to be mistaken for the US Penny. The Lincoln Memorial Cent being the same width (19.1 mm/0.75 in), although slightly thicker (1.52 mm/0.60in). Despite this similarity the two coins utilize different materials.

This Canadian Penny is made of Bronze (.980 Copper, .005 Tin, .015 Zinc) and weighs 2.5g. While the US equivalent was of a much simpler copper-plated zinc (97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper) design. The copper plated US Penny was introduced in 1983 and still remains in use to day (2023). While the more expensive Canadian design remained in produced until 1996.


1 Penny (Canada, 1984)-Observe: Features the second portrait bust of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022), wreathed by title text.

The observe was designed by English sculptor Arnold Machin (1911-1999). It features a right-ward facing bust of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022). This design known as the 2nd portrait. It's first appearance on the Canadian Penny was in 1965. It remained standard observe image, until this version of the penny ceased production in 1989. Replaced by the 3rd portrait variant (1990-2003).

Move outward from the portrait, is wrap-around text. It reads "ELIZABETH II" (left) "D*G*REGINA" (right), short for ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA. This Latin phrase translates to "Elizabeth II Queen by the grace of God". Beyond this text is a ring of small beads. This replaced an earlier toothed (denticle) design used by previous version of the penny.

The before mentioned ring of beads is partially related to the use of a smooth raised dodecagonal (12-sided) rim. Notably many British and Commonwealth coins with multiple sides, also used shallower inner shelves. Allowing a toothed design to be be use as in rounded designs. The diamond-shaped British Indian 1/2 Anna, being notable example.


1 Penny (Canada, 1984)-Reverse: Depicts a twig of maple leaves, representing the Canada.

The reverse was designed by English artist George Kruger Gray (1880-1943), known for his work on various British Commonwealth coinage. The center depicts a twig of maple leaves, representing the Canada. Notably while the Maple Leaf first appeared on the Canadian national flag, adopted in 1965. It had a long association with French Canadians, who began using the symbol in the early 1700s.

Surrounding the maple leaves is basic text. It includes the coin's issuer (Canada), mint date (1984), and value (1 Cent). Roughly at the 4 o'clock position is a small mint mark. It reads "K.G.", short for George Kruger Gray. Just as the observe the reverse features a beaded ring and raised rim.

Size Comparison

A 1984 Canadian Penny with a US Penny for scale.
A 1984 Canadian Penny with a US Penny for scale.

Additional Notes

  • English sculptor Arnold Machin is known for engraving portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, after adoption of decimalization.

  • Arnold Machin work can be seen on the British Commonwealth coins of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  • English artist George Kruger Gray's work primarily focused on designing the reverse of Commonwealth coins.

  • George Kruger Gray (1880-1943) engraved the reverse of the popular Australian (Kangaroo) Penny.

  • George Kruger Gray designed the majority of the Australian 2nd Series Coins, up till the decimalization of 1966.


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