Geekin’ the 902: Loonies and toonies are awesome

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Canada doesn’t print paper dollars anymore. Instead in 1987 they introduced a $1 coin called the “loonie” because there’s an engraving of a loon on it. In 1996 they added a $2 coin called the “toonie.” The $1 and $2 banknotes were pulled from circulation to force the switch; no one I asked has seen either for years.

Loonies and toonies are such a brilliant idea that it’s a puzzle why the US government hasn’t followed suit. Or, maybe it’s not a puzzle. We still print $1 and $2 bills: we tried to introduce a $1 coin but it never really caught on. It’s a shame because the use of loonies and toonies saves the Canadian government a lot of money. Paper bills wear out and need replacement about every two years; coins can last 20 years or longer.

(The US government could have made the $1 Susan B. Anthony coin a success if they did what the Canadians did: simply stopped printing new $1 bills and collected the ones that came their way.)

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When the $2 coin was introduced, several surveys were conducted to determine what to call it. The coin bears (ha ha!) an engraving of a bear, so one of the suggestions was “bearie.” Other suggestions were the “deuce,” the “doubloon” (my favorite), and the “doubloonie.” The opposite side of the coin has an engraving of Queen Elizabeth, so another suggestion was to call it the “moonie.” Why? Because it portrays the Queen, with a bear behind.

Not surprisingly, “toonie” won out.

From the blog How To Spot A Canadian:

Some would say it should be spelled “two-nie,” like the number two, but that might bring legitimacy to the strangely named currency, so instead it’s named “toonie.” It could be worse. They could have spelled it “2nie” like “2Pac” if they were aiming to capture the gangsta rap feel of the mid-90s when the coin was released… So if you’re trying to determine if someone is Canadian, ask them if they have change for a five. If they whip out a combination of loonies and toonies, they’re Canadian. If they start fumbling through bills, they’re American. If they give you two nickels and a dime, they either can’t do math or they’re ripping you off. If that’s the case you’ll need to conduct further testing to find out if they’re Canadian.

2 Comments on “Geekin’ the 902: Loonies and toonies are awesome”

  1. […] I pondered why the US Mint doesn’t make a serious effort to follow suit. Well, I don’t know if anyone at the Mint reads this blog, but get a load of this: […]

  2. […] time around I wrote about the Canadian loonies and toonies, and how much sense they make. On this visit I learned that Canada made another sensible currency […]

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