First introduced in 1685, the playing card money of New France presents one of the most interesting chapters in the story of Canadian currency. When hard currency was scarce and the government needed to make payments, playing cards were used as an emergency measure to meet government obligations. The denomination was written on the cards and signed by the governor, thus creating North America’s first paper money. While surviving originals are extremely rare, this fascinating history is beautifully captured in this new Royal Canadian Mint coin set. The collection includes a four of a kind in fine silver — a King of each suit, and all in a colourful style inspired by the cards that once circulated like banknotes. Each coin in this set has a $25 denomination and weighs 1.5 ounce of pure silver, with a captivating technology and a low mintage of just 1,250 coins.
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 Diamonds (Julius Caesar) holds an authoritative baton in one hand, and in the other, a sceptre that symbolizes imperial power.
The King of Clubs (Alexander the Great):
A confident king who holds a dagger-like sword in his right hand, and a lotus in his left.
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 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 obverse features a repeating pattern of the four suit symbols and the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.