Nature’s creatures abundant on new issues

The Royal Canadian Mint’s September catalogue includes the corporation’s second barn owl coin. The new coin, the 12th in the Birds of Canada series, is a coloured 25-cent piece showing a bird in full flight in a rural setting. Designed by Trevor Tennant, the coin is struck on cupro-nickel blanks, with a diameter of 35 millimetres. The mintage is 17,500.

The barn owl, the only species of owl that does not hoot, has a limited Canadian habitat. They are only found in British Columbia and the southernmost tip of Ontario. The previous barn owl coin was issued in 2010, as part of a series on Canada’s wildlife conservation. The $3 gold coin was designed by Christie Pacquet. The tiny, 27.1 mm square coin, was struck in sterling silver and is gold-plated. Barn owls are listed as endangered species in Canada.

The second coin in the Canadian Maple Canopy series shows an autumn setting. The coloured coin is similar to the first coin in the series, which showed a summer canopy, with a view from the ground close to the tree looking upwards. In this case the branches are bare, with two red and gold leaves falling to the ground. The .9999 silver coin was designed by Margaret Best, and has a diameter of 38 mm and weight of 31.39 grams, one troy ounce. The mintage limit of the $20 coin is 7,500. The first coin in the series sold out in just a week.

The second coin in the four-coin bald eagle series shows a mated pair. Bald eagles are one of the species of birds that normally takes a single mate for life. Once mated, a pair builds a nest and sets about raising eaglets. Claudio D’Angelo designed the coin, which shows a pair perched on a rocky shoreline. The mountainous background is reminiscent of the animal’s natural habitat. Most bald eagles in Canada are in British Columbia. The one-ounce coin is struck in .9999 silver, with a mintage limit of 7,500 and a face value of $20. The other two coins in the series, returning from the hunt and mother protecting her eaglets, will go on sale later in the year.

A third once-ounce silver coin is an original design by a contemporary Canadian artist. The design, by Carlito Dalceggio of Montreal, is entitled “Harmony,” and is described as a non-linear myth-scape. The circular design is a circular narrative combining different finishes on a variety of tribal symbols. Dalceggio trained as a graphic designer, but quickly moved into fine art. He has had solo exhibitions in Montreal, Toronto, Miami, Strasbourg, Paris, Shanghai, and New York. The $20 coin has a purity of .9999 and mintage limit of 7,500.

The RCM has also issued the first Specimen Set containing a silver dollar. The dollar used in this case is the same design as the silver dollar issued earlier this year to commemorative the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Arctic Expedition. Designed by Bonnie Ross, the coin shows three men standing beside a loaded dogsled. In the background is a skyline and a large compass rose with the needle pointing 10 degrees east of true north, indicative of the difference between true and magnetic north.

The expedition, ordered by Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, consisted of two parties. The northern party concentrated on exploration and mapping, while the southern party explored the geology, resources, and native population of the northern mainland. The expedition was lavishly documented, with some 4,000 photographs and more than 2,700 metres of file. Those images were used by Ross to create the coin design. The dollar is struck in .9999 silver with a diameter of 36.07 mm and weight of 23.17 grams. The other coins in the set are Specimen strikes of the 2013 circulating coins from five cents to $2. The mintage limit for the set is 20,000.

Three more coins have been issued in the O Canada series, all three featuring the caribou. A half-ounce silver coin shows a male caribou standing in a boreal forest, with snow on the ground and pine trees. It is the eighth half-ounce coin in the series. Struck in .9999 silver, the $10 coin has a mintage limit of 40,000. The second coin is a silver one-ounce piece, with a face value of $25. The .9999 coin shows a caribou cow and calf in the Canadian north. The two stand in a grass-filled summer valley, with the rest of the herd shown in the background. The mintage limit is 8,500 coins.

The third coin is a $5 gold piece. The .9999 Fine coin shows a close-up of the head and neck of a male caribou. The background shows a northern scene, with river and mountains. The mintage limit is 4,000. Caribou, known as reindeer in Eurasia, are members of the deer family, related to deer, moose and elk. Four subspecies are native to Canada, with a combined population of about 2.4 million animals, one of largest populations in the world. Their hooves are adapted to allow them to shovel through the snow in winter in order to find food. Their hooves actually alter in length and hardness with the seasons, to give them better traction on the changing environment. They can run as fast as 80 km/h. Modern researchers believe it may be the only mammal able to see ultraviolet light.

As with all coins in the O Canada series, the design includes a element in the border relating to the subject. In the case of these coins it is a caribou hoof print. All three coins were designed by Pierre Leduc, a noted Canadian wildlife artist, who has designed a number of coins for the RCM. The O Canada series is extensive, with $10 coins planned on the subject of Maple Leaf, Hockey, and Orca; a $25 coin and a $5 coin on the Orca.

The catalogue concludes with a group of Year of the Horse coins. All are dated 2014, making them the first coins of next year to be launched. The most stunning are a pair of kilogram coins, one in gold and one in silver. The two coins share a common design, not attributed to a single creator but to Three Degrees Design Group. The Vancouver firm has designed many lunar zodiac coins for the RCM. The design shows a view of the front half of a rearing horse, the Chinese symbol for horse, and a decorative border. The gold version has a face value of $2,500 and mintage of 18; the silver version has a face value of $250, and mintage of 388. Both have a purity of .9999. A second gold and silver pair are designed by Aries Cheng.

The fifth design in a series of 12, the coins show a galloping horse, the symbol for horse, and the whimsical elements that are part of Cheng’s style. The silver coin has a weight of 31.39 grams, diameter of 38 mm, purity of .9999, and mintage limit of 28,888. The gold coin has a weight of 11.84 grams, diameter of 28 mm, and purity of .75, or 18-karat, with the balance in silver. The mintage limit is 2,500. Three Degrees also designed the fifth coin in the lotus series of scallop-edge coins. The .9999 silver coin is struck in Proof, with a matte image of horse on a mirror background. The coin has a diameter of 38 mm, weight of 26.7 grams, purity of .9999, and mintage limit of 28,888.

The final coin is designed by Simon Ng and shows a stylized profile of a horse. The .9999 coins are struck in Specimen finish, not often used for non-circulating legal tender, with a mintage limit of 58,888. The coins weigh 15.87 grams and have a diameter of 34 mm. The Year of the Horse will start in 2014, with the exact day determined by the moon. It will run from Jan. 31, 2014 to Feb. 28, 2015. The lunar zodiac is a 60-year cycle combining 12 animals, with five elements.

According to legend, the horse is a symbol of nobility, class, speed, and perseverance. People born in the Year of the Horse are smart, practical, but sometimes impatient. Earlier years of the horse have been 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, and 2002. Famous Horses include James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Ella Fitzgerald, Harrison Ford, Janet Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Davy Crockett, Sean Connery, Halle Berry, and Adam Sandler.

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