The Canadian Victory 5-cent Piece

1943
In 1943 a new reverse design was created for the Canadian 5-cent piece in an attempt to promote the war effort of World War II. This design replaced the well known Beaver with a "V" symbol behind a burning torch, inspired by Winston Churchill's "V" sign for Victory.

Nickels with this reverse design were minted from 1943 to 1945, with the 1945 issue being the most commonly found, yet only the second most numerously produced.

The 1943 coin was struck in tombac, consisting of 88% copper and 12% zinc, while the rest were struck using a new steel blank plated with nickel and in some cases, chromium.

What I find most interesting, since I only learned it recently, was that the denticles around the inside edge of the reverse side were replaced with dots and dashes of Morse Code that says "We Win When We Work Willingly", which appears as:

.-- .     .-- .. -.     .-- .... . -.     .-- .     .-- --- .-. -.-     .-- .. .-.. .-.. .. -. --. .-.. -.-- 


You can see the series of dots and dashes starting near the bottom of the coin, below the "N" in "CENTS" and progressing around the inside edge of the coin clockwise.

The original master of this die was engraved entirely by hand by the Royal Canadian Mint engraver Thomas Shingles.

Mintage:
1943: 24,760,256


1944-1945
In 1944 the war demand for copper forced the Canadian mint to consider other metal compositions for the nickel. As a result, only 8000 1944 nickels were struck with tombac. The remainder of the 1944 and all of the 1945 nickels were struck in steel, plated with nickel and chromium. Of the 8000 1944 tombac nickels, only one is known to still exist. That one coin was sold at auction in 1999 for US$38,500.

The 1944 and 1945 steel coin blanks were plated with chromium, which often broke at edges when the coins were struck, leading to rusting around raised edges where the chromium plating split.

Some nickels (an unknown number) were struck using steel blanks plated in nickel but not chromium, creating a coin with a dull grey colour instead of the bluish-grey of the chrome plated coin. The difference between these coins isn't often noticed and the two varieties don't often demand a difference in price from collectors.

Mintage:
1944 (tombac): 8000
1944 : 11,532,784
1945 : 18,893,216


2005
In 2005 the same "V" and torch design was reissued to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Morse Code message found around the inside reverse edge of the 1943-1945 coins was not included in the 2005 version of the coin.

This version of the coin consisted of 94.5% steel, plated with 3.4% copper and 2% nickel, which is indicated by the "P" at the bottom of the obverse side (below the Queen's portrait).

Mintage: Unknown (hasn't been published as of Jan 17 ,2006)


Sources
The Charlton Standard Catalogue 60th Anniversary Edition

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