By Jesse Robitaille
The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled on Jan. 12 the bulk of a new three-coin series, “The First 100 Years of Confederation,” as part of its first numismatic catalogue of 2021.
Designed by Glen Green, each of the series’ $50 Fine silver coins features a different art style, channelling the spirit of the respective eras (including 1867-1914 and 1918-39 followed by the years leading up to Canada’s centennial). Each obverse includes the effigies of five monarchs – Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II – who reigned throughout Canada’s first 100 years. Altogether, the coins highlight the young dominion’s efforts to connect Canadians from coast to coast through the rail, sea and air.
Kicking off what the Mint calls a “celebration of some of the mechanized history makers that helped shape a modern Canada,” the first coin was unveiled and issued on Jan. 12. Featuring the art nouveau style that flourished at the end of the 19th century, the coin depicts Canada as “an emerging country,” looking at the “railway era” from Confederation in 1867 until the First World War.
“These were the years in which the locomotive – like the historic 4-4-0 one featured on this coin – was the driver of progress, and when transcontinental railways were the ribbons of steel that wrapped around almost every aspect of life in Canada,” according to a statement issued by the Mint.
The series’ second coin, unveiled in January but launching on March 2, tells the story of Canada’s coming of age – at sea – through both world wars.
“This was an era in which a young nation found itself navigating uncertain waters made murkier by two world wars, which catapulted Canada onto the world stage,” reads the Mint statement.
The coin features the art deco style of the inter-war years that was considered the successor to art nouveau.
The series’ third and final coin, launching on May 4, is entitled “Canada Takes Wing.”
Each of the coins has a weight of 157.6 grams, a diameter of 65.25 millimetres and a mintage of 1,250.
ANNUAL GOLD, SILVER ISSUES
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Bluenose, the Grand Banks fishing schooner “whose racing feats and indomitable spirit earned it the title of ‘Queen of the North Atlantic,’” according to the Mint.
“The beloved Bluenose easily found a home on the dime when our circulation coins were re-designed in 1937 to celebrate Canada’s favourite national symbols,” said Marie Lemay, Mint president and CEO. “The ingenuity behind Bluenose is synonymous with Canadian innovation and know-how, and a matter of national pride that spans generations.”
For 2021, the Bluenose centennial is the theme of the Mint’s annual silver proof dollar, $100 pure gold coin (now in 99.99 per cent gold) and Fine silver proof set.
Designed by Yves Bérubé, of Lunenburg, N.S., where the iconic schooner was launched, the silver dollar commemorates the Bluenose alongside William J. Roué, the visionary naval architect behind its design. Using both flat and traditional frosting techniques, the coin’s reverse features the schooner at sail with a blueprint of the vessel’s design and Roué’s signature below. The obverse features the effigy of King George V, who appeared on Canada’s coins in 1921, when the Bluenose was launched. The coin has a weight of 23.17 grams, a diameter of 36.07 millimetres and a mintage of 30,000.
“Bluenose is near and dear to my heart. I am a proud Nova Scotian, but the familial connection to the story makes it that much more special,” said Roué’s great-granddaughter Joan. “The 2021 Proof Dollar helps keep my great-grandfather’s legacy alive and represents an opportunity to re-educate Canadians on the significance of the vessel on our dime. Seeing his signature on this coin is incredibly moving and very personal for the Roué family.”
The annual $100 gold coin depicts the Bluenose without sails in the foreground, presenting a different view of the fishing vessel with an array of signal flags based on a March 26, 1921, launch day photograph. Roué’s outlined hull drawing is also shown in the background. This coin’s obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. It has a weight of 7.8 grams, a diameter of 20 millimetres and a mintage of 2,000.
“It doesn’t matter which part of Canada you were from, she represented us all—and still does,” said Bérubé. “I can’t imagine a Canada without Bluenose. For me, Bluenose is more than just a ship. She is a proud, beautiful symbol of history and tradition on the East Coast, where she represents every sailor, fisherman and shipbuilder.”
‘RELICS OF NEW FRANCE’
A two-coin set issued on Jan. 12 includes what the Mint calls “a tribute to the past and the relic that inspired it.”
Entitled “Relics of New France,” the set features an original 1709-13 Louis XIV 30-denier coin plus a $200 pure gold piece recreating the same design.
“Minted from 1709 to 1713, the 30-denier coin of the French regime was dubbed the ‘mousquetaire’ because of its cross, which resembled the emblem of the king’s musketeers,” according to the Mint.
Norbert Roëttiers, engraver-general of the French mint, designed the original 30-denier coin that’s packaged in a clear slab as part of the set. It was struck in base metal with plain edges and a diameter of about 22.7 millimetres.
The 2021-dated gold coin closely reimagines Roëttiers’ original design with a weight of 31.16 grams, a diameter of 30 millimetres and serrated edges.
There’s a mintage of 350 sets, each packaged in a black box inside a black clamshell case.
“This coin is a real tribute to an early period in Canadian history,” product manager Erica Maga is quoted as saying on the Mint website. “In fact, there are only a few known examples left today! We worked closely with the Bank of Canada Museum to get the details as accurate as possible.”
2021 GIFT SETS
This January, the Mint also launched four of its annual gift sets – “Born in 2021,” “Happy Birthday 2021,” “Married in 2021” and “O Canada 2021.”
Each set includes an exclusive $1 coin – included only in these sets – alongside four of this year’s circulation coins ($2 plus 25 cents, 10 cents and five cents). Each set’s coins are held in a blister pack inside a cardboard panel, and each set also includes envelopes to “enable immediate posting and personalized gifting,” according to the Mint.
Each set has a mintage of 100,000.
REMAINING JANUARY COINS
The remaining coins issued as part of the January catalogue include:
- an $8 pure gold coin, “Triumphant Dragon,” marking the Chinese New Year with a weight of 1.58 grams, a diameter of 14.1 millimetres and a mintage of 8,888;
- a $125 Fine silver coin, “Triumphant Dragon,” also marking Chinese New Year with a weight of 502.5 grams, a diameter of 85.52 millimetres and a mintage of 888;
- a $10 Fine silver coin, “Welcome to the World!” an annual issue celebrating newborn babies with a mintage of 20,000;
- a $20 Fine silver coin, “Best Wishes on Your Wedding Day,” another annual issue celebrating couples married in 2021 with a mintage of 10,000;
- the fifth of six 1/10th-ounce pure gold coins from the “Tribute to Alex Colville” series, featuring the centennial rabbit design with a mintage of 1,200;
- the 11th of 13 $3 Fine silver coins from the “Floral Emblems of Canada” series, featuring the Northwest Territory’s mountain avens with a mintage of 4,000;
- the fifth of six $10 Fine silver coins from the “O Canada!” series, featuring the beaver with a mintage of 10,000;
- the 2021 Classic Canadian Uncirculated Coin Set, which includes all six of Canada’s current circulation denominations, with a mintage of 75,000; and
- the 2021 Fine silver proof set, “100th Anniversary of Bluenose,” with a mintage of 20,000 sets.