Record sales, major discoveries kick off 2014

Alice Munro recited a passage from The View from Castle Rock at the Royal Canadian Mint’s launch of a silver collector coin celebrating her Nobel Prize in literature.

Silver sales, hoards, discoveries, and record sales were the tale of the first half of 2014. A year which also saw the Royal Canadian Mint continue its meteoric rise to a multi-billion dollar business. Silver prices started the year at $19.71 an ounce, about 36 per cent lower than the start of 2013. Even with lower prices, the market was strong, largely fuelled by the speculation that always surrounds silver. Bullion continued strong throughout the first part of the year. Bullion sales, combined with robust demand for collector coins, saw the Mint post higher revenue and profits than in 2013. Continue reading →

Protect yourself with good information

While generalizations can be both risky and inaccurate, I would say this has been a good year in numismatics. The bullion market has remained a driving factor, while that market has cooled down a bit, the bottom hasn’t fallen out, and trading remains brisk. The lower values means that the RCM probably won’t have the sort of year it had in 2013, but it will still post a profit that is quite large. In fact, the numbers we look at now make it hard to believe that in the 1990s the corporation’s goal was to manage a profit of $10 million. Much of the RCM’s vitality comes from a powerful market for collector and gift coins, which the RCM calls numismatic to distinguish them from circulating coins. Continue reading →

Economic volatility keeps Mint on its toes

very once in a while, there is talk of selling off the Mint, since the Crown corporation has become pretty good at turning a profit. The talk started back in the mid-’90s, shortly after the federal government sold off the Canadian National Railway Company. The last time the idea was looked at seriously, it was determined that the Mint was better off being government-owned. The logic was, and it made a lot of sense, that much of the Crown corporation’s business is a direct or indirect result of being owned by the Government of Canada. Being a national mint gives the RCM sustainability, and many foreign governments would prefer to deal with a mint that answers ultimately to a federal cabinet minister than one driven purely by the winds of profit. Continue reading →

Caribou took decades to make it to circulation

The caribou circulating coin has inspired two commemorative issues.

The Caribou 25-cent piece is one of the iconic coins of the Canadian decimal series, having graced that denomination, with few exceptions, since the great coin redesign of 1937. However it has a history going back much longer, to the earliest days of the Royal Canadian Mint. In 1910, just two years after the Mint, then classed as the Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint, started operating, a new Currency Act was passed by Parliament. That law saw a coming of age of the RCM, as it called for the striking of gold coins, a silver dollar as well as the more common dates already being produced. The dollar coin had been kicked around as an idea for some time, and preparations were begun that year for a striking of 1911 silver dollars. Eventually, the decision was scrapped and only a few patterns were produced. Only three are known to collectors today, one silver and one lead pattern are in the National Currency Collection, and a single silver pattern, which is in the hands of a private collector. Continue reading →

Three-pronged approach will help avoid fake coins

Counterfeit fake coins and notes are part of the landscape of collecting. We often use the term synonymously, but that may not always be the case. In some cases fake coins are made to fool the public, in other cases a fake rarity is created to fool a collector and in some cases legitimate coins are defaced or altered to appear to be more valuable. In all of those cases someone is basically attempting to cheat an unsuspecting buyer. None of this is new. There were counterfeiters back in the days of antiquity, punching out fake denarii and solidii. Back in the renaissance, when the first collectors were filling the first coin cabinets, I suspect that some early tradesmen saw a chance to turn a quick buck. It’s just that for most of our history, these types of crooks have preferred to remain out of scrutiny. Continue reading →

Chinese fakers up the ante with thick plating

A chinese firm is offering gold-plated tungsten replicase of RCM gold bars.

The latest round of fake gold coins has the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) calling the cops. “We take the issue of counterfeiting very seriously and these activities are being addressed with the assistance of domestic and international law enforcement agencies,” RCM spokesman Alex Reeves told Canadian Coin News. “We encourage anyone in possession of such products to reach out to law enforcement authorities without delay.” The issue Reeves was referring to was the latest in the work of fake Chinese versions of Canadian gold coins and bars being sold on the Chinese website alibaba.com. He would not elaborate on the steps being taken. Continue reading →

Canadian design, innovation recognized around the world

Once a year, for as long as I can remember, Krause Publications holds the Coin of the Year (COTY) competition. I wish it were Canadian Coin News that hosted the competition, but I’m afraid they had the idea long before I came on the scene. I content myself by remembering that Krause was the first owner of CCN, so it’s still sort of in the family. In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I am on the internatinal panel of judges for the COTY. I got the job when Jerry Remick, a numismatic expert and CCN columnist, died. Since then I have done my best to honour Jerry by voting the way he would have. By that I mean by ignoring national pride and voting for the coins that are the best. Continue reading →

Canadian issues net six Coin of the Year nods

The silver $20 piece showing a springtime maple tree canopy is nominated for Most Artistic Coin.

Canada did well in the annual Coin of the Year awards program, with nominees in six of the 10 categories for the 2015 award. Marc Brule, interim master of the Royal Canadian Mint, said the nominations were a tribute to the consistent quality and innovation of the Mint’s coins. “The Royal Canadian Mint prides itself on producing coins which consistently stand out for their design, quality, and innovations and the nominations we continue to receive under the annual Coin of the Year award program are a tremendous endorsement of our work,” he said. Continue reading →

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