The Large Beads Small Beads 1965 5 Cents.

The “Large Beads”/”Small Beads”, 1965 5-Cents.

By: MICC Lifetime member #001

If you look in a recent edition of a standard catalogue, it will be noted that there are two varieties of obverse used on the 1965 5-cent piece, what are now called “Small Beads” and “Large Beads”. The former is pocket change, the latter very rare – or at least very pricey.

Oddly, while the varieties are determined by the beading, most of the coins are identified by the “Large Beads” having a detached jewel on the reverse of the Queen’s tiara. While this does seem to be definitive, there is always the chance a polished die used for the common variety could mimic this. Therefore, illustrated below, are more definite ways to make the determination.

First of all “Small Beads” doesn’t just refer to size; there are a total of 138 of them circling the rim. In the same way, there are a total of only 119 on the “Large Beads”. Still, without the two varieties to compare side-by-side, our eyes might start playing tricks on us: “Is this the close-together Large Beads or the further-apart Small?”

It’s better if the way in which certain letters line up with the beading is used instead and this is illustrated below by two pictures of each variety, one showing the different ways the I and A of REGINA line up and the other the tiara jewel, detached or not.


“Small Beads” Variety.

The rare “Large Beads” Variety.


Canada, 5-cents, 1965. “Small Beads” Variety. This variety is extremely common and here we see the firmly attached jewel in the tiara. In addition, the second I in “II” will point between two small beads. The rare “Large Beads” Variety Showing the detached tiara jewel  which seems to always(?) be present on this variety. In addition, the second I in II will strike a bead, just to the right of center.

In addition to having an attached jewel on the reverse of the tiara, there are a number of diagnostic ways in which different legend letters line up with the beading. Perhaps the best is in the word “REGINA” where, in the common “Small Beads” variety, the I points at a bead and the A grazes the left side of another; for the rare “Large Bead” variety, the I points between beads and the A grazes the right side of a bead.

The lettering of REGINA as they line up with the beading on the common “Small Beads” variety.

The lettering of REGINA as they line up with the beading on the rare “Large Beads” variety.


How rare are the “Large Beads”? Apparently very much so. So far as we know, the variety was discovered by Jerry Kennison in a roll that he believed was made up in whole or part of Proof-like coins. There were about a dozen in this roll, which have since been sold and resold. By 1999, Ken Potter, in his “Varieties” column appearing in the Canadian Coin News, could note that he had heard of no specimens in addition to the dozen or so discovered in the Kennison roll. Therefore, it might be well to examine your 1965 Proof-like sets for this variety; chances seem slim they exist as business strikes.

Previously printed in the MICC Numismatic Journal Vol-01, Issue-07