Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Godless Canadian Coins! . . . Who Knew?

There is nothing like some Godless coins to spark a heated debate.

Remember a few years ago when we had the uproar about the Godless Presidential dollars? I got more emails and comments over that topic than any other I've ever done.

President Roosevelt got a taste of that backlash when he removed the motto from some of our gold coins in 1907. The motto was quickly restored in 1908.

Godless Canadian Coins

Well it appears that our Canadian neighbors are not immune to this controversy as well.

From 1902 to 1910 during King Edward VII's reign, Canadian coins included the Latin inscription "EDWARDVS VII DEI GRATIA REX IMPERATOR" or an abbreviated version "D:G REX IMPERATOR" depending on the denomination. The inscription means "Edward VII, by the grace of God, the King and Emperor."

In 1911 King George V replaced King Edward VII on Canadian coins. However the "Dei Gratia" portion of the inscription was left off the coins. The new "Godless" coins created such an uproar by the Canadian public that the reference to God was quickly returned to the coins.

I thought Canadians and Americans were alike

Today U.S. coins still display "In God We Trust" prominently on both our commemorative and circulation coins. Canadians have their "D.G. Regina" or "by the grace of God, the Queen."


But here is where the similarities between Canadians and Americans ends.

A Godless coin, even if accidental, still sparks an uproar here in the states. Canadians on the other hand seem indifferent about their "Dei Gratia" as a number of recent coins have omitted the inscription without much controversy. In fact, it seems that they haven't even noticed.

In 2001 Canada issued an International Year of the Volunteer 10-cent coin. There was no "D.G." included on the coin.

When Canada released their Vancouver 2010 Olympic coins for circulation, the inscription "D.G. Regina" was removed from the quarters. The Royal Canadian Mint also mentioned that more commemorative coins may be "Godless" in the future.

Still no uproar.

It's all Latin to me

Have Canadians really become more "Godless" than Americans since 1911?

I personally doubt it.

I think it's a simple case that people no longer know what "D.G. Regina" means.

If in doubt, ask any American what the "E Pluribus Unum" on our coins means and most will get it wrong (if you're one of them, it means "out of many, one").

There was a time when many of our children were required to learn Latin in school. Today you'd be hard-pressed to find a school that still teaches Latin, let alone require it.

If "In God We Trust" was in Latin, would Americans still get so upset when it's missing?

Learn More

See how the inscription containing "Dei Ratia" or "D.G." on Canadian coins has changed over time not only as Monarchs changed, but the British Empire as well. Check out Faces of the Monarch at the Royal Canadian Mint.

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