The Royal Canadian Mint is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1996 launch of its two-dollar circulation coin, nicknamed the “toonie.” Canada’s two-dollar coins are called toonies because they are worth two “loonies,” the common name for the 1-dollar coin bearing an image of a loon on its reverse. The two-dollar issue had the distinction of being Canada’s first bi-metallic coin, originally composed of copper alloy and nickel before it was adapted to multi-ply steel in 2012.
The recently updated design includes new security features. Two maple leaves are intricately engraved near the top of the design, employing varying patterns and grooves that cause the images to change when viewed from different angles. Further complicating this design — and making it harder to counterfeit — are two more maple leaves included at the bottom of the coin, near the rim; these images are micro-engraved with lasers.
In addition to its security features, the coin features an image of a polar bear at its center, with the inscriptions CANADA and 2 DOLLARS inscribed along the outer rim.
A Mint press release regarding the milestone includes the some interesting facts:
- More than 882 million toonies have been minted since 1996.
- Close to 510,000 toonies are produced on average each day at the Royal Canadian Mint’s Winnipeg plant.
- The polar bear is named Churchill.
- The life expectancy of a toonie is in excess of 30 years.
- The system used to lock the core to the outer ring of the coin is patented by the Royal Canadian Mint.
- The outer ring of the coin is magnetic, but the core is not.
- To date, there have been 9 alternate, commemorative versions of the toonie.
Sandra Hanington, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, said of the anniversary, “Over the last 20 years, our two-dollar circulation coin has efficiently served Canadian commerce and given the Mint many opportunities to celebrate Canada through special commemorative designs. It is now time for us to shine a spotlight on the toonie by wishing it a happy 20th birthday.”
Images of the toonie’s alternate reverses are included below.
To learn more about the toonie and other Canadian circulation coins, please visit the Web site of the Royal Canadian Mint. The Mint made headlines around the world in 2012 when it was announced that Canada would stop making pennies, a change expected to save the Canadian government around $11 million per year. The Mint officially stopped manufacturing 1-cent coins on February 4, 2013.