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The fifty-cent piece (French: pièce de 50 cents) is the common name of the Canadian coin worth 50 cents. The coin's reverse depicts the coat of arms of Canada. At the opening ceremonies for the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint, held on January 2, 1908, Governor General Earl Grey struck the Dominion of Canada's first domestically produced coin. It was a silver fifty-cent piece bearing the effigy of King Edward VII.

Though it is regularly minted, it is not made in large quantities (approximate annual average production of 150,000), and since 2004 has only been available to the public directly from the mint. It is very rare to encounter this denomination in everyday transactions, since there seems to be the mistaken belief among many Canadians that the coin itself is rare and thus of value in excess of 50 cents. Most times, when a 50-cent piece is exchanged in a transaction, it is saved by its recipient. People quite commonly, upon being presented with 50-cent pieces, question the legality of the coin, because of the non-circulating status of the denomination. The coin occupies a similar status to that of the United States half-dollar coin. Newer vending machines do not generally accept it, even when they accept coins of both higher and lower value, but many older machines that were retooled to accept loonies will misidentify a 50-cent piece as a loonie, thus allowing the value of the coin to be doubled.[citation needed]

A largely unsuccessful attempt was made by the Royal Canadian Mint to promote the use of the coin when a special edition was released in 2002 marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth II to the throne. After this failed promotion, the mint stopped distributing 50 cent pieces to banks, and now only sells them in rolls or in coin sets available directly from their Numismatic Department at twice their face value, or $25 per roll of 25 coins.[1][2]

The mint's website lists the 2007 coat of arms 50¢ piece as "rarely seen yet replete with tradition".[3][4]

History of composition

References