Skip to content

Dumpster diver’s silver-winning performance

September 27, 2014


Two days ago a dumpster diver walked up to me in McDonald’s and slapped down a coin on the counter beside me. It struck the counter with the pure ringing note of silver, though it turned out (like the guy who had it) not to be as pure as it sounded.

It was a 1966 Canadian Voyageur dollar coin. This fellow said he had found it in a bag in a dumpster. Whether I believed him or not is neither here nor there — that was his story.

This is a gregarious older fellow, avuncular and glad-handing, who works hard at putting up a good front. He was all smiles as he told me how he had already turned down CAN$200 for the coin — and to be fair to the coin, it wasn’t quite as worn out as the guy’s routine.

Can’t take everything (street) people say at face value

The fellow’s name escapes me but I’m sure it must be Connor or Conrad or some other name beginning with “Con”.  Anyway, he wanted me to sell it for him — for half the profits of course — on “the Ebay”, by which I understood him to mean Craigslist, where many, many honest people also sell things.

I nodded and smiled; took some photos; silently apologized to Her Majesty on his behalf and then sent the rounder back out into the dark streets where he belonged.

The next day he tried the same spiel on me again, as if for the first time.

Worth its weight in silver at least


Personally, I think the Voyageur dollar is a very handsome coin. It was designed by Emanuel Hahn for its original 1935 issue. The obverse of the coin features an iconic (if a bit hoary) Canadian image from the days of the fur trade some 300 years ago — two men transporting bundles of furs in a long canoe: one is aboriginal and the other is a European voyageur. One of the bundles is minutely initialed “HB” for the Hudson’s Bay Company which, for the most part, single-handedly ran Canada until the Canadian Pacific Railway was formed to help carry the burden.


The coin is still monetized — still legal Canadian tender worth a dollar. Otherwise it’s worth its weight in silver — which is not as much as I thought.

The coin is 80 percent silver, or 0.600 troy ounces of silver. That makes its melt value about US$13. Its numismatic value to coin collectors doesn’t appear to exceed its face value. especially given how worn it is.

However, if this coin was one of the very rare batch that had small widely-spaced beads around the rim, it would be worth upwards of US$1000 but it’s not so it isn’t.

Neat trivia: the current Canadian dollar coin was supposed to feature the original Voyageur design. However the dies were lost in transit so an alternate design, featuring a loon, was created and became known as the loonie.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: