The continuing course of Canadian monetary innovation

Canadian money authorities just can’t sit still. Like a hyperactive kid, they have revamped Canadian cash, first introducing plastic bills and then killing the penny. Now they want people to play with glow-in-the-dark quarters.

The Royal Canadian Mint’s latest collectible coin features a dinosaur whose skeleton shines at night from beneath its scaly hide.

It’s actually two images on one face, which could be a world’s first. The other side depicts Queen Elizabeth. Her Majesty does not glow in the dark.

Made of cupronickel, the coin has a face value of 25 cents but is much larger than a regular Canuck quarter.

Here is more, and for the pointer I thank Eva Vivalt.


The new neoplastic bills are hilarious. You can't rip them unless you use your teeth. Before Canadian money looked like monopoly money, now it is.

The newer bill designs were introduced to combat counterfeiting which was becoming a big problem in Canada. This is a great piece on the story:

A few years back it was a common sight for a store to have a sign saying that they didn't accept $100 bills. The risk of getting a counterfeit bill was high enough.

Saw the new bills for the first time today. I rarely deal in cash.

Hilariously awesome. Long-lasting bills that you can easily differentiate by sight and by touch. Makes other countries' monotone, easily-destroyed bills look silly by contrast. Or lack thereof.

Did Monopoly money become difficult to destroy at some point?

The Royal Canadian Mint also did an IPO last November of gold Exchange Tradeable Receipts on the Toronto Stock Exchange:

Even more from them:

As Wikipedia points out: Polymer banknotes were developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of Melbourne and were first issued as currency in Australia in 1988. All notes were replaced by polymer currency between 1992 and 1996.

2 cent and 1 cent coins were phased out in 1990.

So, the government has discovered polymer. Progress.

It's important for the government to hold the monopoly on counterfeiting, but how long before the petroleum is worth more than face value?

(Semi-)serious question: if the Canadian mint sells a coin with a 0.25 CAD face value for 29.95 CAD -- about 120x face value -- Is their profit considered seigniorage? Or is the seigniorage only the (probably negative) difference between the face value and their cost?

The thing that I learned a few months ago that absolutely blew me away was this: despite all of this continuing development of banknotes that are hard to counterfeit in Australia, Europe, Canada, etc., the United States, with its crappy, smelly basic green notes, has one of the world's lowest rates of counterfeit bills in circulation. At the peak of Canada's counterfeiting problem in about 2004-2005, the U.S. counterfeit rate was about 1/70 that of Canada's (6.5 per million vs. 470 per million).

Turns out that the best anti-counterfeiting strategy is to just have a completely badass government unit that will find you and destroy you if you counterfeit (U.S. Secret Service). Whereas in Canada the crime organizations that were behind the counterfeiting basically ran unchecked for several years, while the Mint tried to do something about it by using the new plastic bills, etc.

I thought it was a very interesting contrast between the two countries' approaches to the problem.

Here's a great article about the whole thing:

When the only two tasks with which your organization is charged are protecting the President and anti-counterfeiting, you get very good at both.

Might be fun if they ever face a conflict of interest. Which goal would they serve first?

Interesting question -- if the determining factor is sheer volume, 29 presidents have appeared on US currency, while there are only five presidents alive requiring protection. So the green faces win out.

Don't forget the new maple syrup-smelling $100 bills. Heard about it on a podcast from a guy who'd smelled one; lots of anecdotal reports online.

Ancient Celtic coins frequently had hidden images, usually faces, which you might not recognize at first glance, or at all until you rotate the coin. The claim of first coin with two images is, like most things, not wholly novel.

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