I put together this brief summary of the changing silver content of Canada’s 36 mm NCLT silver dollars: 1971 - 2017. I thought it might be of interest to some...
Canada’s non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) commemorative silver dollars (36 mm variety) have undergone multiple composition and weight changes since their introduction in 1971.
Upon launch of the series, the composition of the commemorative silver dollar was 50% silver, 50% copper. These coins weighed 23.30 grams and had a silver content of 11.65 grams. The 50/50
composition was used for the silver dollar coins from 1971 through 1991 (21 years).
In 1992, the composition was changed to 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper (i.e., sterling silver). With the changes, the weight increased to 25.175 grams with a net silver content of 23.287 grams. This composition was used for all 36 mm SDs through 2002.
Beginning in 2003, the RCM
switched to a 99.99% fine silver planchet for its silver dollar commemoratives. The weight of the coins was maintained, however, at 25.175 grams; this yielded a silver content of 25.172 grams. The “pure” silver planchets were used through 2006.
In 2007, the planchet specifications returned to those used from 1992 through 2002. Namely, planchets of sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper) with a weight of 25.175 grams and a net silver content of 23.287 grams. These specifications were used for all 36 mm silver dollars through 2011 with two exceptions: the 2008 Armistice dollar and the 2010 Sun dollar.
Each of the exceptions was struck in high relief and thus required a heavier planchet. The composition remained sterling silver, but the weight for each coin increased to 30.0 grams which yielded a silver content of 27.75 grams – the most silver to be found in any of Canada’s 36 mm NCLT commemorative silver dollars.
In 2012, the RCM
switched back to 0.9999 fine silver planchets for its commemorative silver dollars; it also reduced the overall weight of the coins by reducing their thickness. The new weight was set at 23.17 grams. This composition has continued through to the present (2017) issues.
At 23.17 grams total weight, the silver dollars since 2012 are the lightest silver dollars of the 47-year series; they also have the lowest net silver weight since 1991. I suppose we can take some comfort in the fact that they are pure silver vs. an alloy!
In summary, the net silver content of RCM
36 mm SDs from 1971 to present (with the exception of the two high-relief coins) is as follows:
A. 1971 - 1991: 11.650 grams
B. 1992 - 2002: 23.287 grams
C. 2003 - 2006: 25.172 grams
D. 2007 - 2011: 23.287 grams
E. 2012 - 2017: 23.168 grams
So, with the exception of the four-year bump between 2003 and 2006, the net weight of silver in Canada’s 36 mm NCLT silver dollar remained the same over a span of 20 years (1992 - 2011). The more recent silver dollars (since 2012) are slightly lower in silver content even though their planchets are purer silver at 99.99% vs. 92.5%. The decrease is just 0.51% (0.119 grams), however, so it is very minor. That said, I do hope the RCM
does not make any further reductions in the weight of its SDs.
Here are images of a few of the SDs - one from each composition/weight/time period.