A common sense approach to protecting history

As any collector will tell you, coins and medals are not just something to be collected, they are cultural artifacts. While for many of us that is a huge part of the appeal of numismatics, it has a negative side as well. Many nations have determined that coins are part of their cultural patrimony and shouldn’t be exported. Now, to some extent that makes sense, particularly in the case of nations such as Egypt and Greece, which were plundered for the better part of a century by artefact hunters, often working for prestigious museums. Various nations have also found allies in the archeological community, which has long been complaining that grave robbers searching out items for collectors often destroy historical information that can never be recovered. No thinking person can support grave robbery, or theft of any sort. Continue reading →

Innovation is the key to survival

The numismatic market is crowded. This month, for instance, the Royal Canadian Mint has put more than 30 coins into the market, the exact number depends on if you count different variations of the same design. Now, I’m not picking on the RCM, because while they may be more aggressive than some other mints, they are not the only ones. In truth, I can’t think of a single coin issuing authority releasing fewer coins now than they were 20, or even 10, years ago. Continue reading →

Hologram coin marks space anniversary

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques, from the left, Royal Canadian Mint board member John Bell, astronaut Jeremy Hansen and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) president Walter Natynczyk unveil a silver collector coin celebrating the 25th anniversary of the CSA at the 2014 International Astronautics Congress in Toronto.

The 25th anniversary of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is the subject of a new silver coin, just the second Canadian coin to use an achromatic hologram. The coin, unveiled in early October, shows an image of an unidentified Canadian astronaut floating above the Earth. The astronaut is anchored to a foot restraint on Canadarm2, which bears the Canada word mark. In the distance is the cloud-mottled blue surface of Earth, backed by the black depths of space. The hologram lends depth and movement to the design; the astronaut seems to float above the Earth. Achromatic holograms are unique in that they are only one colour, usually, as in the case of the coin, just black and white, and in high resolution. Continue reading →

Legal tender subtleties leave collectors and dealers scratching their heads

The $20 for $20 coins are popular, but difficult to spend.

Nobody can argue about the success of the Royal Canadian Mint’s (RCM) face value program when it comes to selling coins, the problem seems to be when owners want their money back. When the first $20 for $20 coin came out in 2011, members of the public jumped at the chance to acquire a silver coin for face value. The issue sold out in just 29 days, despite limitations on how many could be sold to a single address. The coins, which contain slightly more than one-quarter troy ounce of silver, have an approximate bullion value of $7 at press time. That success led to a program that continues, and has now been expanded to $50 for $50 and even $100 for $100 coins, all proving popular sellers. In recent years, mintages have been lowered from the 2011 high of 250,000 to 200,000 in the most recent issue, but the coins always sell out in the year of issue. Continue reading →

NCLT conundrum has a solution

I’m going to be honest, sometimes I shudder when I hear the words legal tender. The reason is because there seems to be a massive disconnect between what legal tender is, and what it actually means. It is subject of an article in this issue. To most members of the public it means that they can spend it anytime they want, or convert a legal tender coin into paper money. To the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), it means that the coin has legal tender status under Canadian law, but it is not expected to circulate. To banks and businesses, it is at best a weird coin which has no place in the circulating coin distribution program. It is complicated by the fact that non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins are sold by the Mint, so people expect the Mint to stand behind them, in fact to redeem them for a cheque if submitted. That’s not what legal tender means in Canada. Continue reading →

NCLT coins are the key to Mint profits

Ever since the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) started selling gold and silver on the commodities market they have been required to file additional reports. Such reports, intended to inform people buying those popular Exchange Traded Receipts (ETR), are not packed with the sort of detail that collectors would love, such as detailed monthly coin mintages, but it does give us a bit of a sneak peek into what is going on, without having to wait for the annual report. Continue reading →

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