The Decimal Coinage of New Brunswick
By: R.C. Willey
(Reprinted from CNJ, Feb. 1991. Used by permission. Additional comments in brackets and italics are mostly according to information in the latest Charlton catalogues).
New Brunswick adopted the decimal system in 1860, adopting a dollar equal to the Canadian and American dollars. This meant that a silver coinage was required as well as a coinage in bronze. The orders for the coinage were placed with the Royal Mint by Joseph Howe, who was acting for Nova Scotia at the same time. Not aware that New Brunswick’s standard differed from Nova Scotia’s, Howe ordered half cents for New Brunswick. These were not required and were remelted. The coinage for New Brunswick comprised cents in bronze and silver pieces of five, ten and twenty-cents. As the year 1860 progressed there was a serious need for cents, and New Brunswick was obliged to buy cents from the province of Canada, where there was a very large surplus. More than 500,000 cents were imported in late 1860 and early 1861. American silver was imported to provide decimal coins in silver till the domestic coins arrived from England.
The Half-Cent Piece.
1861 … The total striking was 228,000 half cents.
The New Brunswick half cent was coined in bronze of 95% copper, 4% tin and 1% zinc at 43.75 grains or 160 to the avoirdupois pound. The design was the same as that of Nova Scotia, differing only in the name of the province. It is believed that the error was discovered at the Royal Mint and attempts made to recover and remelt the New Brunswick half cents, but the attempt was not completely successful. It appears that some were inadvertantly left in the shipment to Nova Scotia and circulated there unnoticed, for surviving coins turn up in a wide range of condition. Proofs exist.
1861 … The total striking was 228,000 with no known varieties.
The One-Cent Piece.
The cent of New Brunswick was struck in the same design as that of Nova Scotia, differing only in the name of the province. It was struck in bronze of 95% copper, 4% tine and 1% zinc, weighing 87.5 grains, or 80 to the pound. Like the British halfpenny, the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland cents and the cents of the Dominion of Canada, it was struck to make it a handy household weight and measure, for five cents weigh an ounce and twelve in a line measure one foot.
1861 … The total coinage for 1861 was one million. Proofs were struck. There are no known varieties.
1862 … A cent of 1862 is in existence, which suggests that a die was prepared in anticipation of an order for cents that never occurred. ( Note: All 1862 cents are specimen and chances are good they were prepared only for inclusion in the 1862 New Brunswick specimen sets.)
1864 … The cent of 1864 exists with a round or oval 6 in the date. The round 6 has a short tip and a somewhat rounded loop. The oval 6 has a longer tip and a distinctly oval loop. An overdate 1864 over 2 was offered in the 58th New Netherlands Sale, lot 1058. (Note this coin appears to be – so far – unique). The total mintage in 1864 was one million cents. Proofs were struck.
The Five-Cent Piece.
New Brunswick’s five-cent piece was coined at the Royal Mint in sterling silver weighing 17.93 grains. The dies were cut by L.C. Wyon from his own design. For the obverse he used the laureate head of Queen Victoria designed for the Canadian coinage of 1858, with NEW BRUNSWICK replacing CANADA below the head. (Note: On all the silver, the obverse legends were changed from VICTORIA DEI GRATIA REGINA / CANADA to VICTORIA D: G: REG: / NEW BRUNSWICK). The reverse was the same as the Canadian coin of 1858. The mintage was 100,000 in 1862 and 100,000 in 1864.
1862 … The obverse occurs with or without a period after NEW BRUNSWICK. The variety with the period after NEW BRUNSWICK is known with a period instead of a colon after REG. There is a variation in the alignment and spacing of the date, and there is a reverse with the left part of the left loop of the bow missing. Proofs exist, with the plain or reeded edge.
1864 … The obverse occurs with and without a period after NEW BRUNSWICK. The variety with the period is also known with a period instead of a colon after REG. There is variation in the alignment and spacing of the date. The date is known with a large or small 6.
The Ten-Cent Piece.
The ten-cent piece of New Brunswick is of the same design as the Canadian coin of 1858, differing only in the name of the province (and obverse legend). It was designed and engraved by L.C. Wyon and struck at the Royal Mint in sterling silver weighing 35.86 grains. The issue of 1862 was 150,000 with 100,000 in 1864. Both dates show a period after NEW BRUNSWICK.
1862 … There is considerable variation in the alignment and spacing of the date. There is a variety with a double-punched 2 in the date, a large 2 being punched over the smaller numeral. Proofs were struck with plain or reeded edge.
1864 … There are no varieties other than variation in the spacing and alignment of the date. (Note: Plain-edge specimens dated 1864 are known).
The Twenty-Cent Piece.
The twenty-cent piece of New Brunswick combines Leonard Charles Wyon’s laureate head of the queen, designed for the the Canadian coinage of 1858, with a reverse by George W. Wyon showing the value and date in three lines within a wreath of larger, heavier maple leaves.(Note: The New Brunswick reverse was evidently a pattern rejected by Canada in 1858 since such a Canadian pattern – #B-6 – exists). It was coined at the Royal Mint in sterling silver weighing 71.73 grains. The total mintage was 150,000 in 1862 and 150,000 in 1864.
1862 … There is a variety with a double-punched 8. There is variation in the alignment and spacing of the date. Proofs exist. (Note: Plain-edge specimens exist for 1862).
1864 … Other than variation in the alignment and spacing of the date, there are no major varieties. Proofs exist.
There are New Brunswick coins in existence dated after 1867, the year of Confederation. There are five-cent pieces dated 1870 and 1875, ten-cent pieces dated 1870 and 1871, and twenty-cent pieces dated 1871. For years these pieces have been catalogued as patterns but clearly they are not, there being no need for a New Brunswick coinage after 1867. They are noted by Atkins in 1889 and described by Courteau in his monograph on the coins of New Brunswick in 1923. The origin of these pieces is unknown. Some have thought that they were the product of an idle moment on the part of some unidentified employee of the Mint, but if that were so, more dies besides those of New Brunswick would have been muled with Canadian and perhaps other reverses. Others believe, with better reason, that they were made to provide examples of the New Brunswick designs or display purposes at exhibitions.
Lt: Regular issue 20-Cent of 1864; an 1862 reverse was muled with the above medal obverse.
Another well-known piece is the obituary medalet of George Wyon. This combines the reverse of the twenty-cent piece of 1862 with a special die carrying a memorial inscription. George Wyon died at the early age of twenty-six in March, 1862, depriving the mint of a talented engraver. A specimen was offered in the Brushfield Sale in 1945 and was bought by Fred Bowman, who later presented it to the Chateau Ramezay in Montreal.
(Note: It is now believed that all of the latter pieces are “Official Fabrications”, struck at the Royal Mint by order of Deputy Master Charles W. Fremantle to provide various official collections and exhibitions with examples of the New Brunswick coinage, the Wyon piece possibly an exception. It appears that the Mint had only the New Brunswick obverse master dies remaining for the silver denominations plus either the master or an undated reverse die for the 20-cent piece. For the 5- and 10-cent denominations, the N.B. obverses were muled with whatever Canadian reverses were at hand, an exception being the 20-cent which was no longer being coined. That the pieces had “nonsense date” reverses made little difference since only one side would be displayed. The following are known:
5 Cents: New Brunswick obverse with Canadian reverse dated 1870, wire rim variety, plain edge proof; another with reverse dated 1875, reeded edge proof; another dated 1875-H, reeded edge proof. Note that there are no Canadian 5-cent 1875-plain coins.
10 Cents: New Brunswick obverse with Canadian reverse dated 1870, both as plain-edge and reeded edge proofs; another dated 1871, reeded-edge proof.
20-Cents: New Brunswick obverse with a New Brunswick reverse but dated 1871. Known as both reeded-edge and plain-edge proofs.
Oddly, all of the above have upright reverses whereas those of both New Brunswick and Canada at the time were upset reverses.
There are only a couple of New Brunswick patterns:
(1) 1-Cent, 1861, combining the unadopted “Large Bust” obverse engraved for the Nova Scotia coins by James Wyon with the normal New Brunswick reverse of 1861. Bronze, proof, upright dies, plain edge. #B-15.
(2) 10-Cents, 1862. The normal New Brunswick obverse muled with an unadopted arabesque design dated 1862 adapted from pattern Hong Kong 10-cent coins and used as modified on later Newfoundland 10-cent pieces. Silver, reeded, proof, upright dies.)
Previously printed in the MICC Numismatic Journal Vol-02, Issue-04