U.S. and Canada Issue War of 1812 Coins
Whether America won the War of 1812 or lost it is a matter of perspective. The important people and key battles also depend on point of view. So the coins commemorating the event by the United States and Canada make an interesting collection.
The War of 1812
The military conflict between the U.S. and Britain lasted from June 18, 1812 to February 18, 1815. Because Canada was a British Colony, it served as a primary battleground for many battles, successfully thwarting the United States’ attempts at occupation. The inexperienced United States military suffered several other significant losses over the course of the War of 1812, most notably the burning of the Capitol and White House. Yet it was also victorious in repelling British soldiers from occupying New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans. Francis Scott Key famously penned the “Star Spangled Banner” during the U.S. troops successful defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore’s harbor. Despite the failure to secure any new territory, many Americans celebrated the War of 1812 as a “second war of independence.” In Canada, the war built a sense of civic pride and established the foundation for its own independence from Great Britain.
Coins Marking the Bicentennial
In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint created five circulation coins to commemorate the defining moments of the War of 1812. The $2 circulation coin features an image of the British HMS Shannon frigate, which secured a decisive victory over the U.S. Navy by capturing the American USS Chesapeake off the coast of Boston and bringing it back to Halifax.
The Canadian Royal Mint also released four new 25-cent coins. One coin marks Laura Secord’s heroic 19-mile trek on foot to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon of a planned American ambush of a British outpost. Another coin honors the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh who lost his life in the War of 1812, fighting to secure an independent homeland for Northern Native Americans. Charles-Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry is also honored on a War of 1812 coin. He led the Voltigeurs Canadiens, one of the war’s most successful infantry units. The fourth coin celebrates Sir Isaac Brock, one of the most well-known Canadian military figures of the War of 1812. His actions in battle earned him the title “The Hero of Upper Canada.”
The coin designs were also minted in fine silver, with a limited number of 10,000 coins available worldwide. Each coin includes an engraved and painted Government of Canada War of 1812 logo, composed of stylistic 1812 typography encompassed by a stylized maple leaf with ecru swords crossing behind it.
On this side of the border, the U.S. Mint also released several coins to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. It specifically issued 100,000 gold $5 coins and 500,000 silver $1 coins in commemoration of the bicentennial of the writing of our national anthem during the defense of Fort Henry.
As described by the U.S. Mint, the obverse design of the 2012 Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Gold Five-Dollar Coin depicts a naval battle scene from the War of 1812, with an American sailing ship in the foreground and a damaged and fleeing British ship in the background. The reverse design features the first words of the Star-Spangled Banner anthem, “O say can you see,” in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting against a backdrop of 15 stars and 15 stripes, representing the Star-Spangled Banner flag.
The obverse design of the 2012 Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Silver Dollar depicts Lady Liberty waving the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner flag with Fort McHenry in the background. Meanwhile, the reverse design shows a waving modern American flag.