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1.5 oz. Pure Silver Coloured 4-Coin Set - Historical Currency of Canada: Playing Cards of New France - Mintage: 1,250 (2018)

1.5 oz. Pure Silver Coloured 4-Coin Set - Historical Currency of Canada: Playing Cards of New France - Mintage: 1,250 (2018)

$649.95 CAD
Mintage: 1,250
Canada and US only
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Beaver pelts, strings of beads, and wheat have all been used as legal tender in Canada's early history—but so too have playing cards. Introduced in 1685, the playing card money of New France is one of the most interesting chapters in the story of Canadian currency. The colourful cards bore hand-written values on the back, and could be redeemed once the next shipment of French coins arrived. They were only intended to be a temporary fix; instead, card money was re-issued and circulated like modern-day banknotes until 1759. Masterfully engraved and colourized, your four-coin collectible reaches into history to bring an unusual form of currency right to your fingertips. Few examples of the original card money have survived, but this set gives you the next best thing: four of a kind, a King of each suit, all preserved in pure silver and illustrated in a full colour style reminiscent of 18th-century court cards.

All four of your 1.5 oz. pure silver coins are shaped just like 18th-century playing cards! Order today!

Special features:
  • AN HOMAGE TO CURRENCY HISTORY! Your 4-piece coin set is a card-shaped tribute to an unusual currency that circulated in New France. It's a fascinating glimpse of Canada's early past—one that gives a sense of the challenges and shortages faced by a growing colony.
  • INSPIRED BY THE PAST! The four original designs were inspired by the 18th-century Lionet and Provence Pattern of court cards, with small details that reflect the period style.
  • HISTORICALLY ACCURATE RECTANGULAR SHAPE! In the 17th and 18th centuries, playing cards did not have rounded corners—and neither do your rectangular coins.
  • A TOTAL OF SIX OUNCES OF SILVER! Your 4-coin set includes four 1.5 oz. pure silver coins, each one masterfully engraved and crafted in 99.99% pure silver, plus full colour on the reverse!
  • INCLUDES A MINT-BRANDED DECK OF CARDS! Your 4-coin set comes with a free Royal Canadian Mint-branded set of playing cards! Together, this card-and-coin pairing reflects the popularity of card games, now and then!
  • SERIALIZED CERTIFICATE! Your 4-coin set includes a serialized certificate.
  • LOW MINTAGE! Limited to 1,250 coins worldwide.


The four rectangular coins in your set are 99.99% pure silver. Each one measures 28.6 millimetres wide by 49.8 millimetres long, and has a nominal metal weight of 47.34 grams (1.5 ounces). All four rectangular coins bear original art by artist Trevor Tennant, who drew inspiration from the 18th century Lionet and Provence Pattern of court cards. Each reverse mimics the period style of the playing cards that were used as currency in New France. It features full colour over the engraved depiction of a King from one of four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.

  • The King of Clubs (Alexander the Great) is a confident king who holds a dagger-like sword in his right hand, and a sceptre in his left.
  • The King of Spades (the biblical David) wears a full-length, fur-lined robe. He holds a sword in one hand and in the other, an orb that signifies having the world in one's hand. 
  • The King of Hearts (Charlemagne) wears a cloak edged with a scarf-like pattern, while the fleur-de-lis (a symbol of the French monarch) is visible throughout.
  • The King of Diamonds (Julius Caesar) holds an authoritative baton in one hand, and in the other, a sceptre that symbolizes imperial power.

The obverse on each coin features a repeating pattern of the four suit symbols and the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

The history of a historical currency

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, New France faced a chronic shortage of coins from France—some shipments would arrive later, while others, not at all. Unable to delay payments, Jacques de Meulles, the intendant of New France, came up with a creative solution. On June 8, 1685 he inscribed values on the back of playing cards, then declared that these written promises would be accepted by merchants at face value until the next shipment of coins arrived. But the temporary measure became a recurring one. After being withdrawn from circulation in 1717, the playing card money of New France was issued again in 1729—this time, printed on plain white cardboard with clipped corners to indicate its denomination.

Did you know…
  • Louis XIV, the King of France, wasn't pleased with the idea of playing card money, citing fears of increased expenditures and the high risk of counterfeiting. In fact, counterfeiting was viewed as a serious threat: in 1690, a resident was convicted of the crime and sentenced to be flogged, fined, bonded into service, and banished from Quebec City.
  • The biggest problem with this system was the over-issue of playing card money, which led to increased inflation in the early 1690s.
  • By 1714, roughly 2 million livres worth of card money remained in circulation; in 1760, 16 million livres of paper money had been hoarded away, with card money representing an estimated 3.8% of that total value.
  • Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the French government agreed to convert all remaining card money to debentures that were valued on a sliding scale of 50-70% of the original value, based on the item's age. But in 1771, France was largely bankrupt and New France's card money lost all monetary value.


Each of your four coins are encapsulated and presented individually in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded maroon clamshell case with graphic beauty box.

Discover one of the most unique currencies in Canadian history! Order today!

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  • No.169541
  • Mintage1,250
  • Composition99.99% pure silver
  • Finishproof
  • Weight (g) 47.34
  • Diameter (mm) 49.80 mm x 28.60 mm
  • Edgeplain
  • Certificateserialized
  • Face value25 dollars
  • ArtistTrevor Tennant (reverse), Susanna Blunt (obverse)

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