The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled its February numismatic catalogue, and with it comes a new selection of commemorative Canadiana.
Among the highlights of the newly released catalogue is “In the Eyes of the Timber Wolf,” which is the fourth one-kilogram coin in an annual series featuring enamel-enhanced portraits of Canadian wildlife. The coin is available in pure gold with a face value of $2,500, or Fine silver with a face value of $250.
The reverse design, by Canadian artist Pierre Leduc, features a detailed portrait of a timber wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis), which is also known as the Mackenzie Valley wolf. The wolf’s facial features dominate the reverse, where the selective application of a chartreuse-like coloured enamel to each iris immediately pulls the focus towards the animal’s gaze. The colour adds a glowing intensity to the eyes, which appear to be fixed on the viewer. Breaking free from this unrelenting stare, a careful study of the wolf’s other features reveals an outstanding amount of detail throughout the design. Advanced finishing and shading techniques enhance the engraving and provide a realistic sense of depth, texture and contrast to the wolf’s ears, nose, mouth and fur.
According to the Mint, this series’ previous coins sold out quickly. While the gold coin has a low mintage of only 10 pieces and a diameter of 101.6 mm, the Fine silver coin has a mintage of 400 pieces and a diameter of 102.1 mm.
ENDAGERED ANIMAL CUTOUT
Among the more interesting pieces coming out of the February catalogue is the $3 Fine silver coin, “Endangered Animal Cutout: Woodland Caribou,” which is the first coin in a series that will showcase Canada’s at-risk species.
Like a puzzle with a missing piece, it’s hard to imagine Canada without its most iconic species, which includes the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou); however, this majestic mammal joins other Canadian creatures classified as at risk, threatened or endangered. With its uniquely shaped cutout, this Fine silver coin shines the spotlight on the plight of the caribou, a national symbol whose numbers are in decline in Canada’s wilderness.
The reverse design, by Canadian artist Trevor Tennant, transports the viewer to the mountainous landscape of Western Canada, where detailed engraving and multiple finishes recreate a timeless snapshot of the wild. The coin’s uniquely shaped cutout easily draws the viewer’s eye, and this “missing” element is strongly symbolic: while it represents an artistic tribute to a beloved species, the overall design also offers a haunting re-imagining of the Canadian wilderness without this national icon, particularly the Southern Mountain population of caribou, which is listed as threatened on Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
This coin has a mintage of 5,500 pieces; a weight of 52.88 grams; and a diameter of 54 mm.
Among the Mint’s $10 Fine silver issues is the eight coin in a 13-coin series celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary through each province and territory’s iconic flora, fauna, landscapes or landmarks. This collaborative series between the Mint and Canadian Geographic magazine features designs based on photographs from the bi-monthly publication.
The February release, “Celebrating Canada’s 150th: Panmure Island,” features the birthplace of Confederation – Prince Edward Island – through the beauty of the historic lighthouses found along its stunning coast.
Based on a photograph taken by Canadian photographer Robert Hamilton, the coin’s reverse features vibrant colour over the detailed engraved image of a seaside setting in Prince Edward Island. On a grass-covered slope sits the province’s oldest wooden lighthouse, the Panmure Island Head, which was built in 1853 on the northeast shore of Panmure Island. This octagonal-shaped lighthouse and the structure next to it appear brighter against the blue sky. The reverse also features the engraved word “CANADA” and the dates “1867-2017” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
This coin has a mintage of 25,000 pieces; a weight of 15.87 grams; and a diameter of 34 mm.
SCULPTURE OF MAJESTIC CANADIAN ANIMALS: COUGAR
Another highlight of the Mint’s February catalogue is the $100 Fine silver coin, “Cougar,” which is the second offering of the five-coin Majestic Canadian Animals series launched last November.
The largest and most powerful of Canada’s big cats, the cougar (Puma concolor) is a master of camouflage in the Canadian wilderness. Its remarkably long tail helps it maintain a graceful balance as it steps sure-footed over the terrain while its vision and hearing are perfectly adapted to the nocturnal hunt. This selectively gold-plated Fine silver coin pays homage to a secretive species with a uniquely shaped embellishment that conveys its formidable stealth and strength.
The reverse design, by Canadian big game sculptor Karl Lansing, offers a sculptural celebration of an elusive hunter in the wild. Uniquely shaped to resemble a cougar, this silver, gold-plated embellishment rises up from the coin’s surface for a multi-dimensional collecting experience. The cougar’s muscular appearance is on full display as it slinks close to the ground, its long tail gently curved behind it. While the paused movement belies the cougar’s ability to pounce with lightning-fast speed, it does allow for a rare view of this secretive species’ features, including finer details such as the texture of its fur.
This coin has a mintage of 1,200 pieces; a weight of 315.71 grams; and a diameter of 65 mm.
GREAT CANADIAN EXPLORERS: ALEXANDER MACKENZIE
Rounding out the February issues is the $200 gold coin, “Alexander Mackenzie,” which is the sixth and final offering of the annual Great Canadian Explorers series.
Arriving at North Bentinck Arm (present-day British Columbia) in July 1793, Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1764-1820) made history by becoming the first European to cross the northern North American continent and reach the waters of the Pacific. His drive and determination to succeed exemplify some of the qualities that define history’s great explorers, and the chronicle of his journeys to Canada’s Arctic and Pacific coasts would inspire others to follow.
The reverse design, by Canadian artist John Mantha, features a full-length portrait of Mackenzie. The scene captures Mackenzie’s expedition at the westernmost point of their transcontinental voyage in a breathtaking inlet surrounded by rocky peaks. In the foreground, Mackenzie stands at the water’s edge, where he has inscribed the words “Alex Mackenzie from Canada by land 22nd July 1793” on a large rock. Instrumental to the success of this expedition is a Nuxalk guide, who is pictured at bottom left with his back turned to the viewer. To the right of Mackenzie stands a member of his expedition while another helps to carry the dugout canoe loaned by the Nuxalk over the shallow water. The entirety of the reverse boasts a high degree of historical accuracy, particularly in its depiction of the clothing worn by the voyageurs and the traditional cedar hat of the Nuxalk.
This coin has a mintage of 1,000 pieces; a weight of 15.43 grams; and a diameter of 29 mm.
Other coins released as part of the Mint’s February catalogue include:
- a $3 Fine silver coin, “Pisces,” which is the third offering of the 12-coin Zodiac series (mintage 5,500);
- a $3 Fine silver coin, “Celebration of Love” (mintage 17,500);
- a $10 Fine silver coin, “Dog Sledding Under the Northern Lights” (mintage 15,000);
- a $15 Fine silver coin, “Great Canadian Outdoors: Night Skiing” (mintage 15,000);
- a $20 Fine silver coin, “Glistening North: The Arctic Tern” (mintage 7,500);
- a $20 Fine silver coin, “Traditional Pysanka,” which is only the second egg-shaped coin ever issued by the Mint (mintage 5,000);
- a $20 Fine silver coin, “Canadiana Kaleidoscope,” which is the thinnest silver coin ever issued by the Mint (mintage 7,500);
- a $20 Fine silver coin, “Avro Anson,” which is the second offering of a three-coin series featuring aircraft flown at home or abroad during the Second World War (mintage 7,500);
- a 100 14-karat gold coin, “100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion” (mintage 1,500);
- a $200 pure gold coin, “Elk,” which is the fourth one-ounce coin of the Call of the Wild series (mintage 400); and
- a five-ounce Fine silver coin, “Alex Colville Designs: 10 Cents,” which is the third offering of the Big Coin series (mintage 2,150).
For more information, visit mint.ca.