Canadian history, culture captured on two new gold coins

Klondike gold discovery in ‘Five 9s’ pure gold, Ukrainian pysanka art on egg-shaped coin

The Royal Canadian Mint launched a pair of new gold coins today, in conjunction with the opening of the 2021 Digital World Money Fair, to mark two chapters in Canadian history.

One of the issues – the latest of many one-ounce, 99.999 per cent pure gold bullion coins – begins a new series dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the Klondike gold rush. The $200 gold piece is entitled “Klondike Gold Rush: Panning for Gold.”

The other issue also borrows an annual Mint theme, the Ukrainian Easter egg-inspired pysanka coins, and features a meticulously engraved design celebrating the eternal renewal of the spring season.

$200 ONE-OUNCE GOLD COIN

In August 1896, Keish (Skookum Jim Mason), his nephew Kàa Goox (Dawson Charlie), Shaaw Tlàa (Kate Carmack) and her husband George Carmack discovered gold nuggets in Rabbit (Bonanza) Creek, Yukon.

The find sparked a three-year stampede of prospectors seeking riches in the far northern wilderness. The ensuing mining boom also put Canada on the map as a leading gold producer, spurring Yukon’s entry into Confederation. It even accelerated the creation of the Mint’s Ottawa facility and its gold refinery.

The gold rush also had devastating consequences on the local environment and for the communities of original Indigenous inhabitants of the Klondike region. They were displaced and their traditional way of life undermined—a legacy Canada is still grappling with today.

The coin’s reverse was designed by Steve Hepburn. His illustration of a miner’s hands holding a gold pan is one of the most enduring symbols of the Gold Rush. The engraved design features the gravel inside the pan alongside shimmering water as the material is rinsed to reveal gold flecks. Water pours out of the pan over the coin’s maple leaf security mark. The coin also includes the signature radial lines of all Mint bullion pieces plus a micro-engraved maple leaf mark showing the number 21 to correspond to its year of issue. It is presented in credit card-style packaging with a certificate of purity signed by the Mint’s chief assayer.

$250 GOLD PYSANKA COIN

There are more than three million Canadians of Ukrainian heritage, and the time-honoured folk tradition of pysanka – derived from the verb pysaty (“to write”) – still flourishes in western Canada plus parts of Ontario, Québec and the Maritimes.

It is a springtime ritual in which eggs are decorated with intricate designs and patterns using a written-wax batik method. While there are thousands of possible motifs, designs frequently feature geometric and plant themes.

The $250 egg-shaped coin, crafted from nearly two troy ounces of 99.99 per cent gold, features a pysanka design by Canadian artist Dave Melnychuk. The central motif of a rooster is a well-known symbol of fertility and reawakening. Its tail feathers are adorned with sunflowers, each with eight petals, a number symbolic of eternity and equilibrium. The rooster is surrounded by an “eternal band” (“bezkonechnyk”), with radiating sunbursts representing good fortune and growth. Each element of the intricate pysanka is engraved “in minute detail,” according to the Mint.

WORLD MONEY FAIR

Each year, the Mint is among the various national mints, central banks and other related companies that attend the World Money Show in Berlin, Germany. To watch a video preview of this year’s virtual event, click below.

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