The Royal Canadian Mint has expanded the popular $20 for $20 program to include a $100 coin. The $100 bison coin was described in the previous issue of Canadian Coin News. At that time, the information available to CCN described the coin using the term “great pricing.” The coins are being sold with a limit of three per household. While the purity of the coins makes them exempt from GST, HST, and PST, the Mint is charging for shipping and handling, and those amounts are subject to tax.
The coin is described as the first in a series called Wildlife in Motion. It is not known how many coins will be in the series, or if they will all be offered as $100 for $100 coins. The Mint’s previous issues of “face-value” silver coins have been limited to a series of coins being sold for $20, with much less silver. Those issues have proven popular, usually selling out in a relatively short period of time. One of the first coins in the series, the canoe coin, is offered at asking prices that vary from close to $30 from most coin dealers to $50 from some online sellers. Those coins, like the new bison piece, are considered non-circulating legal tender.
The new coins contain approximately $23 worth of silver, which means that the face value will remain higher than the metal content unless the price of silver climbs up to four times its current value. Purchasers looking to recover their cost may find that NCLT coins are difficult to convert into cash. While the Mint will accept the coins at their boutiques, banks are not required to redeem NCLT into paper money, and may not even be willing to accept them on deposit. The precise definition of legal tender means that there must be a debt to be paid, and even then, coins of this value are classified as legal tender in units of only one coin, according to the Currency Act, which regulates Canada’s coins.
A similar development occurred in the early 1990s when the melt value of Montreal Olympic commemoratives was about half the face value. Speculators acquired a large number of Montreal Olympic commemorative coins for melting, and then tried to convert them into paper money at face value. The hapless investors were sent packing at the Bank of Canada, Royal Canadian Mint, and chartered banks. Eventually, in 1992, the Mint set up a policy that it would accept the coins, provided they were used to purchase new mint products.
The design of the bison, commonly called buffalo, was created by Claudio D’Angelo (subject of a profile on page 20). It is struck in reverse Proof and shows three members of a stampeding bison herd. The high-detail engraving shows the animals, prairie grass, and Rocky Mountain foothills in the background. The coin is struck in .9999 silver, with a mintage limit of 50,000, diameter of 40 millimetres, and weight of 31.6 grams.