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Klondike Dollars - My Complete Type Set

 
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Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 02/19/2015  8:44 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello! I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Edmonton is the fifth-largest city in Canada, and the northermost metro area with more than a million people in North America. One of Edmonton's nicknames is the "Festival City" (although "Deadmonton" is more popular) because of our wide assortment of annual events, all throughout the year (even in winter... and it's a long winter). Of these festivals, the oldest is Klondike Days. Edmonton's first major wave of settlers came during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon Territory. For these gold rushers, Edmonton was the last town to stock up on supplies at before the terrible journey up North. Decades ago, somebody thought "that's good enough!" and created "Klondike Days", a week-long festival with a nostalgic 1890s theme. Starting in 1968 and ending in 1986, "Klondike Dollar" tokens were issued every year with a different design. They would be worth $1 for the duration of the festival. All of them have "Klondike Mike" (the show's mascot) on one side.

I can't find anything on the Internet about Klondike Dollars, but after some conversations with local collectors and dealers and completing my collection by type I feel qualified to write my own long post on the subject.


1968 was the year of the first Klondike Dollar. It has some differences compared to the others - the edge is plain, not reeded, and the mintage is the lowest by far at just 45,000 (all other years were at least 100,000).

Panning for gold was an eternally popular Klondike Days event - sadly, the gold-panning rigs have since been dismantled. Of course, the "nuggets" were artificially seeded.

1970 has my favourite design.

1971 saw the first use of the Sherritt Mint's hexagonal mint-mark (look after "CANADA"). The Sherritt Mint (based in Fort Saskatchewan, a town next to Edmonton) seems to have encouraged cities and towns all across Canada to use their services to manufacture Trade dollars throughout the 70s and 80s. Nowadays, it seems to be defunct.

1972 saw a new gimmick. Every Klondike Dollar from 1972 onwards bears one of four "mint-marks" - a cane, a hat, a pick, and a shovel. During the festival, people would be stopped by show staff and asked to present a dollar featuring a certain mint-mark. If they had the right mark, they would win a candy or a little prize. This also means that the "complete" Klondike Dollar collection contains four coins for every year, not counting other varieties (100 tokens would be somehow defaced every year, and anyone with a defaced token would get a BIG prize - these are enormously rare).

Every year, a very limited number of Klondike Dollars would be struck in .999 silver and 24K gold to be distributed as very special prizes. Silver mintages usually ran between 200 and 300, while the number of gold tokens produced was always below 30. Most of these have probably been melted down over the years, even though they're fantastically rare. A great loss for exonumia.

Some changes were made in 1974. The mint-mark finally moved from the reverse to the obverse, the magic word "SOUVENIR" was added to the obverse, and a tradition began where every Klondike Dollar would specifically commemorate a certain person or event.

Edmonton and Calgary are Alberta's two largest cities. Alberta was created by a Liberal government, and Edmonton had more Liberal supporters, so Edmonton was made the capital despite being slightly smaller than Calgary (to this day, it's not quite as big). Edmonton was also chosen over Calgary to get a railway line.

The station pictured here is now a trendy restaurant/nightclub.

1976 has the highest mintage - 230,000 tokens were made in this year.

Many hopeful prospectors traveled along the coast through Alaska to reach the Yukon. Hey, that's cheating!! This token commemorates those who didn't.

For three years, all Klondike Dollars were made out of brass instead of nickel-bonded steel. Maybe it had something to do with the commemoration of the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, and they kept it going for another two years? These brass dollars aged very badly and it's not easy to find ones that are still shiny and unblemished.

It's also the beginning of a five-year series, all of which commemorate "Edmonton's Great Pioneers".

In 1979, the effigy of Klondike Mike was changed for the first time. Instead of a pickaxe and a bag of gold, he's now waving to the camera. In my opinion, this effigy isn't as nice, especially because of that tiny, sad bag of gold.

1980 was the 75th anniversary of the Province of Alberta. All schoolchildren in Alberta were given a commemorative medallion for the event (similar medallions were given out to kids in 1955 and 2005). So the 1980 Klondike Dollar also commemorates this event.

In this year, Klondike Mike was changed once again. Now he has a pickaxe, but no gold, and his mischievous cartoon smile has been toned down even further.

This is the last "Great Pioneers" issue.

Another B-grade sporting event hosted by Edmonton! The World University Games (a.k.a. the Universiade) aren't the Olympics but they aren't too shabby either, especially because we managed to get the British Royals to open the event.

These last three years are quite rare, as public interest in collecting Klondike Dollars seems to have waned and mintages dipped down to 100,000 (from a high of 230,000 in 1976).

We've come full circle! This is the same rafting event commemorated in 1972.

I was saying something about B-grade sporting events? The Grey Cup is the annual championship for the Canadian Football League, which uses rules that are slightly different than American football. Although it's not quite as exciting as the Stanley Cup, Canadians can always rely on a Canadian team to take home the Grey Cup.

Most of the Klondike Dollars are surprisingly well-designed for privately minted tokens. But this year's design is just plain creepy.

This is the last of the real Klondike Dollars, and the design is appropriately somber. The new management of Klondike Days decided to end the series as the Sherritt Mint wound up its operations - later, they would even rename the festival to "Capital X", a very unpopular decision. It has been renamed again to "K-Days", but once again the general public have yet to accept this new name. Nowadays, people are getting nostalgic about a festival about nostalgia.

However, there was one more issue in 1989. This new management did not permit the issue of actual, good-for-$1 Trade dollars, but they did like the "profitable souvenir" aspect of the Klondike Dollar program. So, this final token was released. All the text pertaining to its value has been shoddily removed, but apparently people still tried to spend them as $1 at the festival. The 18-year program had been squeezed dry to extract one last quick buck for the festival management. Overall, it's an ignoble end to an interesting series of tokens.

Thank you for reading! I know that collectors of Canadian trade tokens are rare, but hopefully this will help someone out someday.
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United States
652 Posts
 Posted 02/19/2015  9:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mackwork to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice collection!
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United States
7044 Posts
 Posted 02/19/2015  9:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wonderful collection! Thank you very much for sharing it here on CCF!

I like how they commemorate various aspects of the Gold Rush era.

The RCMP centennial piece caught my eye - other commemorative pieces I've seen refer to 1873 as the start of the force not 1874. So, I did a bit of quick internet research and learned that 1874 was the year that the RCMP first took up residence in Alberta at Fort Macleod. The "Alberta - RCMP Centennial" then made sense to me!

How long did it take you to complete your set?

One minor comment, you might consider referring to the cane, hat, pick and shovel symbols as privy marks vs. mint marks. My understanding of the two suggests that it might be a more accurate description of the added symbols.

So, what's next for you?!


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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United States
3078 Posts
 Posted 02/19/2015  10:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Circus to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice, grouping and it does seem that some of the festival operators can screw up a good thing in an eyeblink! I picked up a number of them down here in the Mitten and posted them a while ago. Got a number of different privy marks on the years.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 02/19/2015  10:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have five "complete mint sets" of four coins in special official packaging - I used "mint marks" because they did:


What's interesting is how the packaging was downsized over the years. The 70s sets consist of two pages of cardboard in a plastic holder, both fully printed, one containing the coins and the other covered with historical pictures and background information. The 80s sets, meanwhile, don't have any pictures and the page not containing the coins is printed on normal paper instead of thick cardboard. And the 1989 issue came in a pathetic little plastic flip.

Finishing the set by type was not difficult - the first store I visited had about two-thirds of the dates for 50 cents each. The second store had all the dates for 33 cents each (should have visited them first!). It was all done in a couple of days. Of course, the city that they were issued in is the easiest place to find them. The rarest dates are the later 80s issues. However, my set is not yet complete by privy-mark - that would take a bit more effort over a bit more time, and I'd probably need to visit a couple other stores. Ideally, I'd like to have an official "complete mint set" for every year that they were issued in.

In fact, when reading through the few token catalogs that exist and talking to local dealers, I found out that truly completing the Klondike Dollar set is an almost impossible challenge! There are three different kinds of rarities, all of which are hardly ever seen. Some of them are mentioned in the post above, but here's information on all of them:

Gold/silver strikes - I've seen two of the silver strikes in their original presentation boxes, but they were a bit too expensive for me. These are very rare, especially the almost-never-seen gold issues. The highest mintage of any year in silver was 500 in 1975 and 1978, and the highest mintage of any year in gold was 35 in 1977, 1978, and 1979. The gold tokens weigh 28 grams (!) so most of them have probably gone to the melting pot by now - tragic.

Prize tokens - every year, 100 tokens would have a different design flaw, usually a dot or an X in varying locations. These are also very rare.

Open House strikes - these are the most interesting rarity. The Sherritt Mint would sometimes open its doors during a carnival for promotional purposes. Since the Mint is located out of town, I doubt attendances were ever huge at these events. Visitors would be able to strike or receive their own specially made "OPEN HOUSE" token. In 1977 and 1978, these had the added legend "OPEN HOUSE JUNE [year]". In 1971, these simply had an extra "V" under the left of the steamboat. They're still out there somewhere, but most likely very few of them exist.

So, next I'll try to finish the set by privy mark, which is achievable - then, I'll just keep an eye out for anything more interesting. As far as Trade dollars go, I am interested in issues from the three Territories (Yukon, North-West Territories, and Nunavut - due to low population they don't have as much constitutional power as the provinces), and there is a very, very similar set of Trade dollars, issued until 1986 with four different privy marks, for the Calgary Stampede 300 kilometers south...
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Canada
10044 Posts
 Posted 02/19/2015  11:41 pm  Show Profile   Check SPP-Ottawa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add SPP-Ottawa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I wish I had known this time last year - that you collected these. In one of the larger exonumia lots that I consigned at the Bell auction last year it contained a number of the scarcer versions, some .999 silver strikes, and even included some of the prize winning "Lottery" Klondike dollars...

I would have set those aside for you...
"Discovery follows discovery, each both raising and answering questions, each ending a long search, and each providing the new instruments for a new search." -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Content of this post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses...0/deed.en_US

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 Posted 02/21/2015  1:42 pm  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the little lesson on Yukon Tokens! Much appreciated.
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ANA Life Member #3288 in good standing since 1982, EAC Member #6202, C4, & NBS Member, 2˘ variety collector.

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408 Posts
 Posted 02/21/2015  5:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tampabaygrampa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting post. Took lots of work to put together. Thanks for sharing.
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United States
4211 Posts
 Posted 02/21/2015  7:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Debrajc to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Those are VERY cool~!! Thank you for posting the pictures!
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 02/24/2015  6:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Here's an interesting, tangentially related token.


This "Wing Buck" seems to have been issued for Klondike Days, but at a less official level (I don't know how closely the RCAFA was affiliated with the festival). It was issued in 1972 and 1973 with the same design, and the recorded mintage is just 5,000 for each year, making it rarer than any of the conventional Dollars.
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United Kingdom
1 Posts
 Posted 08/13/2015  09:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DarkSithLord to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Guys.

New here but been a coin collector for 20 years.

I just liked to say what a superb thread this is. Never knew there were so many of these.

What would you say is the value approximately of the 1976 Mint Set?
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2805 Posts
 Posted 08/13/2015  12:50 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nalaberong to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well, I live here, so supply is very high - I see those sets going for about $5, and they don't sell very quickly. Unfortunately, mint sets of tokens don't seem quite as collectible as mint sets of actual coins. Perhaps in a different city they would attract more interest.

I would also like to amend a mistake made in the first post: non-redeemable 1987 and 1988 issues actually DO exist. I just couldn't find one for a while, and because of their non-redeemability they are not in any catalogue.




Anyway, there's a lot more - Calgary's very similar series of Stampede Dollars lasted longer than the Klondike Dollars did, and the majority of Canadian cities and larger towns (especially in Alberta, where the biggest private mint was) issued at least one Trade dollar token in the last few decades. Some, like Jasper, came out with new tokens every year from 1970 to 2005. Overall there are well over a thousand different unique types of Canadian Trade dollars.
Edited by nalaberong
08/13/2015 12:58 pm
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Canada
1 Posts
 Posted 05/02/2016  12:59 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add harlleyman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi. I have a pair of the 1978 silver Klondike Mike coins without the presentation case, just the hard plastic coin case, and have been trying to find information about them. Your post is very informative, and I thank you for your effort in gathering the info. Do you know how to estimate the value of the pieces? Is there a local resource that you know of? Not much information online other than mintage numbers. They are a real conversation piece nonetheless.


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10044 Posts
 Posted 05/02/2016  10:42 pm  Show Profile   Check SPP-Ottawa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add SPP-Ottawa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
For 1978, 500 silver Trade dollars were struck. They have a value of roughly $25 (or more, if the price of silver ever shoots up again).
"Discovery follows discovery, each both raising and answering questions, each ending a long search, and each providing the new instruments for a new search." -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Content of this post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses...0/deed.en_US

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 Posted 11/18/2021  3:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add David Graham to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Just got to this thread by a link. I know it's an old thread but still interesting reading. Was surprised to see the kanga on the 1988 token. I wonder if this was to do with the World Expo 88 held in Australia and if these were sold at the Canadian display...
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