The Royal Canadian Mint’s latest release of collector coins continues to showcase Canada using creative shapes, sophisticated applications of colour and selective gold plating on its numismatic keepsakes, which are now available for purchase.
By turning its popular egg-shaped coins upside down, the Mint has created a novel and fitting tribute to Canada’s numerous ballooning festivals on the 2017 $20 Fine silver coin, “Hot Air Balloons.” Designed by artist Calder Moore, it features a vibrantly coloured scene of a balloon flotilla, including one displaying a red and white maple leaf design, which rises above a majestic Canadian landscape on a perfect summer morning. This $20 coin has a weight of 31.82 grams, a 45 mm long by 33 mm wide diameter and a mintage of 5,000 pieces.
FIRST FLIGHT OF 1783
Beautiful colour has been a signature feature of hot air balloons since the first flight of 1783. Inventors Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier worked with wallpaper manufacturer Jean-Baptiste Réveillon to build their 1,700-cubic-metre taffeta envelope, and Réveillon brought a strong sense of aesthetics to the project when he created a blue and gold design of flourishes, suns and zodiacs—and that is likely how the tradition of beauty took off.
The first passengers aboard a hot air balloon were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. They took to the air on Sept. 19, 1783, two months before the first manned flight in Paris.
The first hot air balloon in Canada was launched during the War of 1812 as a military post to observe American troops along the Quebec border.
Record-breaking landings in Canada took place in 1991, when British billionaire Richard Branson and Swedish co-pilot Per Lindstrand made the first transpacific crossing in a hot air balloon and landed on a frozen lake 240 kilometres west of Yellowknife, and in 1995, when U.S. businessman Steve Fossett completed the first solo flight across the Pacific when he landed his helium-filled balloon in a muddy field near Leader, Sask.
The only Canadian ever to be honoured with a Montgolfier diploma—the most prestigious international hot air balloon award from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale—is the Ottawa balloonist Sandra Rolfe. Her seven-and-a-half-hour flight in February 2015 set a world record for the longest time aloft in a balloon of its class. She holds more than 30 Canadian and international ballooning records and, in September 2016, managed to be back in the sky while still recovering from a severe stroke suffered in October 2015.
MAPLE LEAF FOREVER
A new leaf shape is also found on the 2017 $250 Fine silver coin, “Maple Leaf Forever,” whose antiqued finish dramatically highlights Lisa Thomson-Khan’s design of the Mint’s newest one-kilogram silver coin. Khan’s design captures the natural beauty of a silver maple leaf (Acer saccharinum), as it would appear in the Canadian landscape. The coin’s impressive size (135 mm by 150 mm) provides a larger-than-life canvas for this engraved rendition, which features all of the details of a true silver maple leaf—including the deeply cut, engraved veins that run across the tapering lobes. The outline itself is unmistakable thanks to its sharply toothed edge, while the use of an antique finish adds to the realistic portrayal. The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt. There’s a limited mintage of 700 pieces.
The celebration of Canada 150 continues to echo on two new large-scale creations, including the 2017 $50 Fine silver coin, “Canadian Icons,” a five-ounce piece on which designer Tami Mayrand has arranged red-coloured symbols of Canada in a maple leaf pattern.
There’s also a five-kilo 2017 $500 Fine silver coin, “Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast,” whose traditionally engraved illustration of Canada’s diverse regions was created by artist Steve Hepburn.
The popular celebration of hockey also returns on the John Mantha-designed 2017 $10 Fine silver coin of the Learning to Play series. These coins feature each of Canada’s NHL teams—Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver—through individual scenes of young children, sporting their favourite team jersey, learning the game from their parents in a classic outdoor setting.
Other celebrations of Canada include:
- the 2017 $25 Fine silver coin, “The Great Seal of Canada,” featuring the Mint’s first application of selective gold plating over ultra-high relief;
- the 2018 five-ounce Fine silver coin, “Big Coin Series: Dollar,” featuring Emanuel Hahn’s timeless “Voyageur” design;
- the 2017 $30 Fine silver three-coin set, “Phases of the Moon,” designed by Pacific Northwest First Nations artist Andy Everson, whose creative addition of translucent enamel illustrates the progression of the moon cycle;
- the 2017 $10 Fine silver coin, “Autumn’s Palette,” featuring a coloured design by Tony Bianco;
- the 2017 $15 Fine silver coin, “Great Canadian Outdoors: Nature Walk at Sunrise,” designed by Joel Kimmel and featuring early dawn and morning scenes achieved through glow-in-the-dark technology;
- the 2018 $20 Fine silver coin, “Mother Nature’s Magnification: Morning Dew,” featuring a 3D Droplet magnifying part of a coloured illustration of a crab apple tree branch by artist Margaret Best;
- the 2017 $20 Fine silver coin, “Under The Sea: Sea Turtle,” designed by Maurice Gervais and embellished with a sea turtle “murini mosaic” element handcrafted by glass artist Loïc Beaumont-Tremblay;
- the 2017 $20 Fine silver coin, “Bejeweled Bugs: Bee,” whose design featuring a jewel-encrusted bee was created by artist Jori van der Linde;
- the 2017 $20 Fine silver coin, “From Sea to Sea to Sea: Atlantic Starfish,” designed by Tony Bianco;
- the 2017 $50 Fine silver coin, “Monarch Migration,” whose striking colour illustration of a Monarch butterfly appearing on a three-ounce coin was created by artist Graham Spaull;
- the 2017 $500 pure gold coin, “Red Tailed Hawk,” which features Emily Damstra’s artwork in a five-ounce format;
- the 2018 $20 Fine silver coin, “Three-Dimensional Approaching Canada Goose,” designed by Matt Bowen;
- the 2018 $50 Fine silver coin, “Holiday Splendour,” featuring a Marie-Élaine Cusson poinsettia design embellished by a red Murano glass element;
- The 2017 Holiday Gift Set; and
- the double crystal-enhanced 2017 $3 Fine silver coin, “Zodiac Series – Libra (October),” designed by Pandora Young.
Mintages, pricing and full background information on each coin can be found on the “Shop” tab of mint.ca.