The 1974 Extra Yoke Dollars Not Just One

The 1974 “Extra Yoke” Dollars; Not Just One

By: MICC Lifetime member #001

In 1974, Canada commemorated the centenary of the founding of the city of Winnipeg with commemorative dollars, both in “circulating” nickel and somewhat larger silver collectors’ pieces. The reverse design for both was essentially the same, Paul Pederson’s initials (PP) appearing below the two 0s in “100” and the B (for Patrick Brindley) below WINNIPEG. Aside from that, the same Machin/Brindley portrait of the Queen was used as in 1973 and the subject of this article – the nickel dollars – stayed at a composition of pure nickel, weighing 15.62 grams and with a diameter of 32.13 mm, all on a vertically reeded planchet. Altogether, 2,286,027 of these nickel dollars were struck for circulation; 213,589 for inclusion in the Proof-like sets; 44,296 for inclusion in Custom Sets; and another 85,230 in the Prestige Sets (by this time including the silver dollar as well as the nickel).

Winnipeg Centennial Dollar Commemorative, 1974.

Within the two 0 digits of “100” are scenes of Main Street in 1874 and the same location 100 years later

Shortly after release, a variety showed up, consisting of the ox yoke (part of the right overlay on the central 0) being doubled rather than a single upright. So far as we know, the discoverer of this variety (now designated “Variety 1”) was Maurice Larivière of Quebec City where it was found in a Proof-like set.

“Extra Yoke”, Variety 1.

On this variety, the second yoke is directly above the first (see arrow).

Once collectors started to look for them, “Double Yokes” began to show up – but not all turned out to be the variety discovered by Mr. Larivière. In fact, there are at least three distinct configurations of this variety, despite the fact that only one is listed in standard catalogues. Perhaps others came across them, but it was Ken Potter who first publicized the second variety, this time being discovered on an ordinary circulating dollar. On the Potter variety (now called “Variety 2”), the second yoke is above and to the left of the first one. This is the one illustrated and priced in the Charlton catalogues, the other two being ignored.

“Extra Yoke”, Variety 2.

This is the variety found on circulating nickel dollars. Discovered by Ken Potter, it is the one illustrated and priced in the Charlton Standard Catalogue.

Even later, a third variety of the “Double Yoke” showed up, again in Proof-like sets. Garrett Chapman is credited with the discovery of this one. We shouldn’t wonder it took so long to show up since the second yoke is low and to the right, looking for all the world that it belongs there. But it doesn’t; there’s only one yoke upright.

“Extra Yoke”, Variety 3.
Low and to the right (see arrow), this yoke looks as if it belongs.

But how and why do these varieties – or even one – exist? Again, it was Ken Potter in his Canada Coin News column “Varieties” that offered an explanation.

Probably it would never have existed had it not taken place near the center point of the reverse. In the positive “hub” die sinking the needed working dies (each of them in negative relief), several strikes are required to fully sink them – perhaps three or four. On each strike, the hub sinks further and further into the lower die and, under the pressure, the metal in the latter flows out from the center. In a perfect world, the designs already impressed by a previous blow are totally obliterated by the one or more following and the new impression the only one seen. However, it is possible that the power was turned up on a blow previous to the last, sinking a feature such as the yoke upright so deeply that it would not be obliterated by the last blow. And it just so happened that it was already near center, meaning that it showed up slightly more faintly yet somewhat off to one side of the last yoke impression. I.e: a “second yoke”.

Lastly, how rare are these various varieties? The only one listed, Variety 2, currently has a market value of $35 assigned to it in MS-60. But what of the other two? All things considered, it seems probable that each variety is the product of a single working die, meaning that the other two are statistically of equal rarity and market value. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to give an estimate as to how many such dollars (on average) are produced per working die. By the 1970s, the RCM was no longer providing such mundane details – but somewhere in five figures seems to have been average up until this time. Assuredly, there are a good many other factors that have a bearing on how comparatively rare – or common – two otherwise “equal” issues are. Only collectors’ experience can ultimately determine this.

Previously printed in the MICC Numismatic Journal Vol-01, Issue-06