Collector discovers error identifying Loon designers

By Jesse Robitaille

long-standing error was recently discovered by Jim MacKenzie, editor of the Saskatoon Coin Club website.

After a request to add a page to the club’s website, saskatooncoinclub.ca, showing the special reverse designs minted for the 1997 and 2002-18 Specimen sets, MacKenzie began gathering all the necessary photos. While writing a short description for each piece, he came across an interesting error.

“Everything I’ve read says that the 1997 Flying Loon reverse was designed by Jean-Luc Grondin,” said MacKenzie, who added the “initials on the reverse match. No problem there.”

Beside the image of the 1997 dollar was the 2002 “15th Anniversary of the Loon Dollar” coin, and as MacKenzie researched for more information, he found every resource, including the Royal Canadian Mint website and Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, credited the reverse design to Dora de Pedery-Hunt, who is well-known for designing the obverse sides of the coins from that era.

“Because the two coins were side by side on my screen, I noticed that the designer’s marks were identical. That obviously told me that the 2002 reverse was designed by Jean-Luc Grondin,” said MacKenzie. “I sat there, dumbfounded. How can every resource be wrong?”

Most coins, including those issued by the Mint, feature what are known as designer marks – usually the designer’s initials – to indicate who the coin’s designer is.

“Because you can’t argue with the designer’s mark on the coins, I’m just going to assume that sometime during the process of releasing this set, someone from the Royal Canadian Mint’s web design team accidentally copied and pasted the wrong name into the specifications for the coin, and every publication and web resource has dutifully copied and pasted as well,” said MacKenzie.

He is “assuming that most Canadian coin reference publications use information from the Mint’s website and press releases when they add new coins to their publications. You don’t think to double check the accuracy of their information.”

Grondin is also remembered for designing the 2006 “Lucky Loonie,” which features the familiar loon in flight alongside the official emblem of Canada’s Olympic team. The coin proved to be good luck for Canadian athletes competing at that year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, It was the second version of the “Lucky Loonie,” which became famous across the country after being embedded in the ice before the gold-medal winning games by both Canada’s men’s and women’s hockey teams in 2002. Grondin also designed the 2008 Lucky Loonie, one of which was given to each member of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic teams competing that year in Beijing.

The Mint has confirmed it will update the erroneous listing on its website.

The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins has also confirmed the error will be corrected in next year’s edition.

“At the simplest level, everyone has their place in history,” said MacKenzie. “If an artist spends a month sculpting something, how frustrating would it be if he knew that someone else was being given credit for that work, even if it was accidental?”

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