23 July 2015

Relic Hunting Post #130 - A Prince Edward Island Penny

My wife and I recently returned from visiting my daughter, son-in-law and 4 grandsons in Canada. While we were there, I spent quite a bit of time doing some relic hunting with the oldest of the boys. My daughter's family bought a home that was built circa 1860 and the 10 acres that came with the property provided some great opportunity to see what kind of history was lying beneath the surface. It didn't take too long to find out. Within 10 minutes of the first day out, my grandson shouted, "Hey Grandpa, I think I have a good signal!" 

Not expecting much, I scanned the same spot and he did, in fact, have a promising signal. Helping him carefully remove about 5 inches of dirt, he reached in the hole and grabbed a beautiful 1871 Prince Edward Island penny! PEI is one Canada's maritime provinces and this province issued it's own coinage for a short time. 1871 was the only year PEI issued this coin. Coins and Canada website notes the following:
Prince Edward Island was the last of the British North American colonies to adopt a decimal system of currency. 'Going decimal' in 1871, the island chose a dollar equal in value to the United States one-dollar gold piece, in line with the decimal currency system introduced earlier in the Provinces of Canada and New Brunswick and adopted by the Dominion of Canada in 1867. The only decimal coin struck for P.E.I. prior to its entry in Confederation in 1873 was a one-cent piece in 1871. This attractive coin was designed and engraved by Leonard C. Wyon, who for some forty years was the principal engraver for the Royal Mint in London.

The obverse of the coin depicts a diademed head of the queen, a design that was already being used for the Jamaica halfpenny. The reverse was adapted from thc official seal for the island. The central design shows a large oak tree (representing the United Kingdom) sheltering three smaller ones (the three countries of the island) with the Latin phrase PARVA SUB INGENTI ('The small beneath the great') below. Because of heavy pressure of work on other coinage, the Royal Mint was forced to contract with the Heaton Mint in Birmingham (a private firm) to produce the Prince Edward Island cents.
We made quite a few other great finds (and memories) over the next few days, but this was the best. I will be sharing this whole story, along with some life lessons, in one of the relic/treasure hunting magazines soon. In the meantime, check out this very happy boy and his prize find.

PEI coin on the left, bottom. To the right is a 1913 Canadian penny
and, at top, a 1964 silver Canadian dime.

Note for those interested: Current writing projects include an article about this experience with my grandson, another product review for one of the relic hunting magazines, assisting the Shenandoah Valley Preservation Foundation with writing a self-guided tour of the Battle of Waynesboro, and another essay for a noted CW publication which will be adapted from my book about the Battle of Waynesboro. I'll also be working on an article which focuses on a different twist regarding Civil War veterans and which I hope to get published and, finally, the review (which keeps getting delayed) of Kent Masterson Brown's Daniel Boone documentary. As hectic as that may seem, it is a welcome pace from writing books, which I've been heavily involved in over the last several years.