Sou: coin from Province of Lower Canada; 1/2 penny


1 sou or 1/2 penny, 1837: Province of Lower Canada

1 sou or 1/2 penny, 1837: Province of Lower Canada

In fact, this is not a coin, but a token (coin-like object used instead of coins). In addition, with a double denomination: "French" (Sou) and "British" (Penny). This is not surprising, because the issuer of the token is Canada (more precisely, Quebec), which is populated by descendants of both the British and the French.

The obverse of the coin contains a French-language legend, while the reverse has an English-language legend.

PROVINCE DU BAS CANADA: Province of Lower Canada (the name of the modern province of Quebec).

UN SOU: one sou.

Local Canadian resident in traditional winter costume. To be more precise, a so-called habitant is depicted (Habitants — French first settlers and the inhabitants of French origin who farmed the land of the present-day Province of Quebec).



Coat of arms of Montreal (largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec) with its Latin motto CONCORDIA SALUS ("Salvation through harmony").

QUEBEC BANK (issuer) on the ribbon.

Engraver: John Shaa (a London goldsmith and engraver of the Mint).

Mintage: 120.000.

To be honest, as a numismatist (collector of coins of the world), I do not recognize the value of tokens and do not find them interesting at all. In my opinion, they have no place in coin collections. However, in this case, we are talking about a token that is as similar as possible to a coin in all respects — the denomination, issuer, and the issuer's coat of arms are indicated. That's why I decided to make an exception and include it in my collection.

  • Copper: 28 mm - 9 g
  • Reference price: 15$

COIN SOU — WHERE & WHEN (coins catalog: by names & emitents)
  1. CANADA, Canadian Provinces (only tokens of the 19th century): sou = 1/2 penny
  2. FRANCE (as a descendant of the sol coin) and FRENCH COLONIAL EMPIRE — French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Mauritius, Saint Barthelemy... (18th-19th centuries): sou = 1/20 livre
  3. MEDIEVAL SPANISH STATES — Principality of Catalonia, Kingdom of Majorca (17th-19th centuries): sou

About the name of the coin sou: this name is a vivid example of the evolution of currency names. In ancient times, the gold Roman coin solidus was extremely common on the territory of France (and a number of neighboring territories). Gradually, this term in France first received the form "soldus", then "solt", even later — "sol" (a coin with this name is also widely known). Over several centuries, this term has undergone a linguistic transformation. This is how the name of the coin "sou" appeared.
It is interesting that before the introduction of the franc as a currency in 1795, the main monetary unit of France for a long time was the livre, which was divided into 20 sous. In turn, each sou (originally "sol") consisted of 12 deniers. With the introduction of the decimal monetary system (1 franc = 100 centimes), 5 centimes, which were 1/20 of a franc, were traditionally called sou. Similarly, a coin of 5 euro cent is also often referred to as sou in informal speech.