Search articles

The Rare Canadian 1936 Dot Cent


Canada, 1936 King George V Dot Cent, PCGS SP65RB. Click images to enlarge.

The 1936 King George V Dot Cent is a coin that has enthralled collectors for decades and minted during a time of royal chaos. Great Britain was in the throes of a throne in transition due to the passing of King George V on January 20, 1936 and the sudden abdication of his son, King Edward VIII months later amid the controversy of his engagement with divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. Officials at the Royal Canadian Mint, let alone the Royal Mint in Great Britain, could barely keep up with the changes happening at Buckingham Palace.

Great Britain and its Commonwealth nations, including Canada, strike coins bearing on their obverses the likeness of the reigning British monarch. These designs change as new members of the royal family assume the throne. And, in the wake of King George V’s death and King Edward VIII’s subsequent arrival upon the throne, new dies were already being made to reflect the incoming monarch.

But these preparations were thrown into a tailspin when, on December 11, 1936, the beleaguered King Edward VIII relinquished the throne to marry his love interest, who during their courtship was seeking her second divorce. Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson went on to live happily ever after as Duke and Duchess of Windsor, following their marriage in 1937. Meanwhile, Edward VIII’s younger brother, George VI, would assume reign over the British Empire. The Canadian coinage of the period in its own way reflected the turbulence of the time, and from it a rarity was created.


With Edward VIII relinquishing the throne late in 1936 and little time to create new dies, Canadian Mint officials had another pressing matter on their hands: increasing demand for new coinage. Not only was there a need for new one-cent coins, but also ten-cent and 25-cent coins. Meanwhile, as 1937 rolled in there were still no dies ready depicting the likeness of King George VI. Officials at the Royal Mint were busy producing dies depicting George VI, but the need for new coinage was top of mind for the Canadian Mint.

The contingent solution to avoiding a coin shortage? Retreading 1936 dies bearing the effigy of the deceased King George V and adding a tiny dot on the reverse of the one-cent coin to distinguish those as 1937 productions. The minute, faint dot is seen centered below the “93” of the date on the cent; the ten-cent and twenty-five cent coins received similar treatments. The Royal Canadian Mint reported striking 678,823 pieces, but only a tiny number are known today, and all the extent pieces are Specimen strikings, not circulation issues or business strikes; incidentally, while the 1936 Dot Cent and Dot Dime are exceedingly rare today, the 1936 Dot Quarters was released into circulation and is considered a semi-key issue with its mintage of 153,322 pieces.

Meanwhile, numismatic experts believe that if more than 675,000 of the 1936 Dot Cents were produced as the Royal Mint asserts, then they must have all been melted, perhaps held aside as a contingency release in case 1937-dated one-cent coins bearing King George VI weren’t available for release before existing coin stocks were depleted. However, the feared coin shortage never happened. Existing coin supplies in government coffers helped allay the situation, and by the time of King George VI’s coronation on May 12, 1937, dies were prepared and ready to strike regular-issue coins honoring the new monarch.

A Royal Rarity

The Royal Canadian Mint produced a total of 10,040,231 King George VI one-cent coins bearing the 1937 date, quelling all concerns of a Canadian coin shortage. Meanwhile, collectors became privy to the 1936 Dot Cents, which proved rare early on. Legendary coin collector John Jay Pittman owned all three specimens of the 1936 Dot Cent from 1961 until his passing in 1996, rendering this rarity essentially uncollectible by the general numismatic public for many decades. When they came up for sale in the years following Pittman’s death, the three 1936 Dot Cents stirred international headlines.

All three specimens have commanded six-figure prices at auction. In the initial sales the coins took over $100,000, and in more recent years the trio of rare 1936 Dot Cents have fetched much more. The record price of $402,500 goes to an example that sold in 2010 and is currently graded PCGS SP65RB, the same grade as the other of two PCGS-graded specimens.

Given the incredible rarity of the 1936 Dot Cent, it is little surprise that many counterfeits and alterations exist with the intention of passing as this most coveted of Canadian coins. As always, the usual advice of due diligence applies in buying any specimen of this 1936 Dot Cent. However, buyers should be immediately suspect of any “raw” specimens that they encounter and must ensure that the coin is authenticated and graded by PCGS before spending any money on such a costly purchase.