In order to appreciate the story behind the 1947 1-cent varieties we need to take a closer look at the inscription on the obverse side of the coin, understand a little Latin, and know some British history. A closer look at the obverse side of the 1947 1-cent coin reveals the inscription, “GEORGIVS VI D:G:REX ET IND:IMP:", circling the bust of King George VI. This lettering is an abbreviation of the Latin words “GEORGIVS VI DEI GRATIA REX ET INDIAE IMPERATOR” translated to English means “GEORGE VI, KING AND EMPEROR OF INDIA BY THE GRACE OF GOD”.
The significance of this inscription is that Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India on April 28, 1876 and took on the title “Queen and Empress of India”. The subsequent British Kings retained the title of “King and Emperor of India”. When a British King-Emperor or reigning Queen-Empress signed their name for Indian business, they used the initials R I, for an abbreviation of the Latin “Rex/Regina Imperator/Imperatrix”, or translated into English “King/Queen Emperor/Empress”.
On August 15, 1947 India attained its freedom and became independent from British rule. With India’s independence, King George VI, was no longer the Emperor of India and all coining dies and tooling had to be modified for the 1948 coins to remove the “ET IND:IMP:” portion of the inscription on the coin. Traditionally, the use of the image of a former monarch or outdated titles could only continue until the end of that year.
The Royal Mint in London modified the matrices and punches for the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM); however, it took close to a year before the RCM received the updated dies and the 1948 coins with the changed inscriptions could be produced. In 1948, while the RCM waited, demand for new coinage rose so it was decided that the RCM would continue to produce 1947 coins, but using modified dies by adding a tiny maple leaf beside the year “1947” to indicate that the coins were actually produced in 1948. Once the modified dies and tooling arrived in 1948 the RCM ceased producing the maple leaf coins and commenced producing the normal 1948 coins with the shortened Latin inscription “GEORGIVS VI DEI GRATIA REX”, or in English “GEORGE VI KING BY THE GRACE OF GOD”.
In 1948, before the new 1948 1-cent coin dies arrived, the RCM modified the existing 1947 1-cent coin dies by adding a tiny maple leaf, and also created replacement dies with a tiny maple leaf since dies wear out and replacements are needed when producing coin runs. The original 1947 dies had a blunted seven on the top right of the number 7, the modified 1947 maple leaf dies also had a blunt seven, but the new replacement 1947 maple leaf dies that were created had both a blunt seven and a pointed seven variety. The blunt 7 variety of the 1947 maple leaf 1-cent coin is scarcer and therefore more valuable.
Collectors quickly found the difference in the 7’s and a new variety was discovered. The end result was that the RCM produced three varieties of 1947 1-cent coins, a 1947 blunt 7, a 1947 maple leaf blunt 7, and a 1947 maple leaf pointed 7. These three varieties of 1-cent coins can also be found in the Specimen struck collector sets that the RCM produced, according to the Charlton Standard Canadian Coins Catalogue.