Canada was colonized by France until 1763 when the British took over. So technically, it’s a Commonwealth Nation. But after 1858, Canada switched from the Sterling Pound to the Canadian Dollar which they still use today. The current $1 coin was introduced in 1987, so 1988 was its second year of mintage. Let’s learn about this 1988 Canadian Dollar Coin value.
1988 Canadian Dollar Coin Price Value Chart
Canadian $1 Coin
Canadian $1 Obverse (Heads)
Canadian $1 Reverse (Tails)
Current Price Range
1988 Bronze $1 CAD
Queen Elizabeth II Loonie
Queen Elizabeth II with Denticles
on the Lake
$5 to $20 CAD
($3 to $15 USD)
1988 Silver $1 CAD
Queen Elizabeth II with Denticles
Two Iron Workers with an Anvil.
$12 to $15 CAD
($9 to $11 USD)
Table of Contents
History of the 1988 Canadian Dollar
The Canadian Dollar is commonly known as the Loonie. This is because the back of the circulating $1 coin features a popular water bird called a loon. But since Canada has both English speakers and French speakers, the French names for this coin include Huard, Piasse, or Piastre. For reference, the majority of Francophone Canadians have their ancestry in Quebec.
About 98% of the population speaks English while 20% speak French. Other languages in the country come from China, South Asia, and the Indigenous Communities known as the First Nation. The Canadian Dollar Coin has gold colouring but it’s nickel, bronze, brass, and/or steel. Loonies before 2011 were bronze-plated nickel. After 2012, they’re brass-coated steel.
The coin itself was introduced in 1987, and while the circulating coin (also known as business strike or regular strike) had a loon on the back, commemorative coins had different designs. In 1988, the circulating coin was a loonie while the silver Saint-Maurice was released to mark the 250th Anniversary of the key cast-iron industry in Quebec. It featured two ironworkers.
Differentiating the Bronze and Silver Canadian Dollar
Usually, circulating coins are minted in Winnipeg while proofs are made in Ottawa. The business strike 1988 Canadian Dollar has 11 sides and is described as a Reuleaux polygon. It has denticles on the front and the back to help the rim last longer. But the Saint-Maurice $1 from 1988 is round and half silver. It has denticles on the front but none on the tails side.
Both the coins feature Queen Elizabeth II on their heads side, and both tails sides were done by the same artist. The circulating bronze coin was modeled after the American $1 at the time, the Susan B. Anthony. The American coin was 2mm thick and 26.5mm in diameter so the 1987 Canadian one was 1.95mm thick and 26.5mm across. In 1988, that shrunk to 1.75mm.
The two had key differences though. The American version had a silver tone and a reeded edge while the Canadian one was smooth and gilded. On the other hand, the 1988 Saint-Maurice Canadian Dollar was silver, reeded, and a bit larger. Today, these two coins are gaining recognition in the collector’s space, so keep an eye out for both regulars and proofs.
Features of the 1988 Canadian Dollar
When you’re describing the features of any coin, here are some key terms to consider. The heads side is called the obverse and the tails side is called the reverse. The thin side is called the edge, and any raised borders are called rims or collars. The image is called the device.
The background of the coin is known as the field, and the words (e.g. country, name of the leader, denomination, etc.) are called legends or mottos. Coins often have the mint date, mint location, and designer’s initials. And the edges can be reeded or plain (aka smooth).
Obverse of the 1988 Canadian Dollar
The obverse (heads side) of the 1988 Canadian Dollar features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. This is because Canada still considers the British Monarch as its Head of State, although the country is ruled by a Prime Minister. The Young Queen’s portrait is by Arnold Machin.
The Queen faces right on the coin. On the left, behind her head, the legend Elizabeth II runs along the rim from the nape of her neck to the tip of her tiara. On the right, in front of her face, the legend D. G. Regina (Dei Gratia) goes along the rim from her forehead to her neck.
Reverse of the 1988 Canadian Dollar (Bronze Queen Elizabeth Loonie)
The reverse (aka tails) of the 1988 Canadian Dollar features the common loon, a popular bird in Canada. The loon is swimming on a lake with its beak facing to the right. The bird on the back of the $1 was designed by Robert-Ralph Carmiahcael but engraved by Terrence Smith.
The left field of the coin shows a landmass with maple trees behind the bird. The top of the coin says Canada and the bottom of the coin reads Dollar, with the mintage date, 1988, above the denomination. The designer’s initials, RRC, are on the right of the coin, close to the beak.
Other Features of the 1988 Canadian Dollar (Bronze Queen Elizabeth Loonie)
From a distance, the 1988 Canadian Dollar looks round. But it’s an 11-sided coin with beads or denticles along the inner rim. The original coin weighs 7g and measures 26.5mm across (1.04”). It’s 1.75mm thick (0.08”). The bird was designed by artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael.
Carmichael often went by Bob, and the first coin – minted from 1987 to 2011 – was 91.5% nickel with a top coat of 8.5% bronze. This bronze plating was an alloy of 88% copper and 12% tin. The edges of the coin are smooth without any reeds. They made around 138M coins.
Reverse of the 1988 Canadian Dollar (Silver Saint-Maurice Ironworks)
The reverse (tails side) of the Silver 1988 Saint Maurice Canadian Dollar was also designed by Robert-Ralph Carmichael, but it was engraved by Sheldon Beveridge. The coin shows two ironworkers hammering a crowbar with tongs and an anvil. Their work surface is dated 1738.
Bob’s initials, RRC, are on the lower right side of the coin. The legend Les Forges du Saint-Maurice Ironworks runs along the upper rim of the coin, with a maple leaf before and after. The lower rim reads Canada 1988 One Dollar. This $1 coin wasn’t intended for circulation.
Other Features of the 1988 Canadian Dollar (Silver Saint-Maurice Ironworks)
The Silver 1988 Saint Maurice Ironworks Canadian Dollar was mainly a collector’s coin to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the forges. It was 50% silver and 50% copper, with a round, reeded edge. The coin measured 36mm in diameter (1.42”) and 2.8mm thick (0.11”).
About two-thirds of the mintage were proofs, meaning blanks aka planchets were burnished to give it extra shine, and struck using special dies to ensure clearer details. In 1988, the Mint made 106,702 Brilliant Uncirculated coins and 259,230 Proof coins featuring Saint-Maurice.
1988 Canadian Dollar Value Guides
The resale price of a coin depends on various factors including its design, mint date, rarity, errors, and metal composition. Coin Value Checker is a useful resource to confirm estimates and sales records, as well as historical data. For now, let’s look at the two Canadian $1 coins.
1988 Bronze Canadian Dollar Value (Queen Elizabeth II Loonie)
While the 1988 Canadian Dollar is starting to gain interest, it isn’t valuable yet. From March and May 2023, a 1988 Canadian Dollar fetched around $20 CAD on eBay, about $15 USD.
1988 Silver Canadian Dollar Value (Saint-Maurice Ironworks)
Similarly, from March to May 2023, the price estimate for a 1988 Silver Canadian Dollar was $9 to $11 US, which is about $12 to $15 Canadian. Growing interest could push prices higher.
FAQs about the 1988 Canadian Dollar
How Much is a Queen Elizabeth Canadian Dollar Worth?
At the moment, a Bronze 1988 Queen Elizabeth Canadian Dollar is worth $15 USD, which is around $20 CAD. That’s the going price in May 2023, but it’s expected to shoot up in the near future. This price refers to the Loonie $1 that has a common loon on the back. But the Silver 1988 Saint-Maurice Ironworks Canadian Dollar is worth $ 11 USD or $ 15 CAD. It still has Queen Elizabeth II on the heads side, but the tails side features two burly ironworkers.
What is the Ironworks on the 1988 Canadian Dollar?
As we mentioned above, the Ironworks on the 1988 Canadian Dollar is a commemorative coin minted to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Saint-Maurice Ironworks near Trois-Rivières in Quebec. Known as the Forges du Saint-Maurice, it opened in 1738 as New France’s first ironworking capital. (For reference, Canada was called New France while it was under French rule from 1535 to 1763.) The factory forge made stoves, pots, and pans. It was declared a National Historic Site in 1973 and honored on a Silver $1 Canadian coin in 1988.
How Much Does a 1988 Canadian Dollar Weigh?
The Bronze 1988 Canadian Dollar (Queen Elizabeth Loonie) weighs 7g and was made of 91.5% nickel and 8.5% bronze. But the larger Silver 1988 Canadian Dollar (Saint-Maurice Ironworks) weighs 23.33g and is 50% silver. They have the same obverse but different tails.