The 12-sided Canadian Victory Nickel is very similar to our own thrupenny bit but in many ways infinitely more interesting.
Introduced in 1943 it was yellowish brown and made from the alloy TOMBAC. The obverse bore the face of King George VI, but instead of the usual beaver what the Canadians saw was an engraving of the letter ‘V’ with a flaming torch in the middle and below it, the words ‘Cents’. The flaming torch in the centre of the design represents sacrifice.
The ‘V’ had two meanings. The Roman numeral for 5 but, more significantly, it was based on Winston Churchill’s two-fingered salute and as a result the coin became known as the Victory Nickel.
There was more to this coin and this is where it gets interesting. At this time the Canadian government was doing everything to encourage people to become involved in the war effort. So, when they minted the coin, a message in Morse code was included around the edge. Many people thought that the engraved dots and dashes were simply design, but they spelled out the alliterative phrase – We Win When We Work Willingly.
I’m not a numismatist but I’d be interested to know whether this is the only coin ever to have used three different languages for its inscriptions: Latin, English, and Morse code. Rather unusual, don’t you think?
Although I have lost the original blog post I still have an email sent to me by Cal Christie, my good friend from Guelph in Ontario, Canada. I was pleased to learn that I had told him something about the coin that was new to him.
I chanced to click on your blog today. My interest was immediately sparked by the 1943 five-cent coin displayed. I remember well these coins which we called “V for Victory” nickels. I was 7 years old in 1943 – you could buy a good bit of candy for 5¢ then.
Alas, I rarely had a nickel in my pocket though. Seeing your blog caused me to rush to check out the coins that my Dad had saved over the years. There were a lot of 5-cent pieces.
Attached are scans of some coins 1942 to 1945. It appears that the Morse code was still featured except for the 1942 coin which had the beaver symbol. I didn’t know that bit about the Morse code – thanks for the information.
This has been another Resurrection Production