The 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War is the subject of the Royal Canadian Mint’s prestigious 2014 Proof set.
The Proof dollar in the set depicts a couple’s farewell at a train station. The scene represents the first draft of Canadian volunteers heading to the newly built camp at Valcartier, Que., for training. The design was created by Bonnie Ross. The coin is struck in .9999 silver, with selective gold plating on the couple, and the rim of the obverse and reverse. The coin has a weight of 23.17 grams and diameter of 36.07 millimetres.
The other coins in the set, which have the circulating designs of the five-cent, 10-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent, loon dollar and $2 coins, are also struck in .9999 silver, with gold plating on the loonie and the core of the $2 coin. All are struck in Proof. Mintage of the set is 25,000.
The commemorative $1 coin is also offered as a single Proof coin without the plating and a mintage of 40,000, and in Brilliant Uncirculated finish, also without the gold plating, and a mintage of 20,000. The sets became available Jan. 14.
The First World War started on July 28, 1914, amid a crisis that erupted after the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Serbia a month earlier. A complex web of international alliances saw Germany allied with the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, and Russia, France and Britain, aligned on the other side. On Aug. 4, Britain joined the war citing Germany’s violation of Belgian neutrality.
Germany’s kaiser, Wilhelm II, is reported to have said: “To think that George (King of England) and Nicky (Tsar of Russia) should have played me false! If my grandmother (Queen Victoria) had been alive, she would never have allowed it.”
Canada went to war as well. Prime Minister Robert Borden famously said, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain.”
Instead of mobilizing the militia, it was decided to raise troops for a separate Canadian Expeditionary Force. More than 600,000 men and women served as soldiers or nurses. This was considered a formative time in Canadian identity.
For the first time Canadian soldiers fought as a distinct unit, the Canadian Corps, ending the war under the command of a Canadian general, Arthur W. Currie. At the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Canadian Corps fought together for the first time.
In 1915, Lt. Col. John McCrae, of Guelph, Ont., wrote the poem In Flanders Fields, after presiding over the funeral of a friend. The poem, and the poppy, became symbols of remembrance.
The Mint has also issued a 2014 Uncirculated set, with the five-cent to $2 coins issued in Numismatic Brilliant Uncirculated finish.
Long a staple with collectors, the packaging has been modified this year, so the coins and certificates are held together. The set has a mintage limit of 75,000. Uncirculated coins are also used for the 2014 gift sets. This year there are four sets: O Canada, newborn, birthday, and marriage. Each of the sets has a unique $1 coin offered only in the set with a design matching the theme: a maple leaf, gifts, lovebirds, and a stork. The commemorative coin takes the place of the loon pattern dollar.
The five-coin sets are packaged in blister packs, with room left on the inside panel for a message. The packs have die-cut holes, allowing the $1 coins to been seen from the front. There is no mintage limit stated for the sets, so final mintages will not be known until the Mint’s annual report is released with final mintage figures for 2014. Another annual tradition is the baby footprint coin. Originally issued as a 25-cent piece, and later as a dollar, the coin has become a regular feature of the Mint’s January launch. The 2014 coin is a $10 silver half-ounce piece with a diameter of 34 mm. The two baby feet are the central design of the reverse, along with the date. The coin is struck in .9999 silver, with a mintage limit of 15,000.
A final set of the January launch is the 2014 Birds of Canada Specimen set.
The six-coin set is struck in Specimen finish. With the exception of the $1 coin, the coins are the same design as 2014 circulating coins. The Specimen dollar, designed by Trevor Tennant, shows a ferruginous hawk in flight, talons extended. A total of 50,000 sets have been authorized for this set. A second Specimen set with a different design will be issued later in the year.
A colourized silver coin, designed by Tony Harris, celebrates the Canadian winter rite of passage, learning to skate.
The $10 coin shows a man teaching a child to skate on an outdoor rink. The young girl, in a dark pink coat and helmet, smiles as she takes her first tentative steps. Behind them are the boards of the rink, an orange hockey ball, and a snow-covered street. Skate Canada,which is celebrating 100 years of figure skating in Canada, is credited as assisting in the design. The coin is struck in .9999 silver with a diameter of 34 mm and weight of 15.87 grams. The mintage limit is 10,000.
O Canada returns
Last year’s O Canada series is returning for 2014.
The first two coins of the new series are silver coins paying tribute to the igloo.
Both designed by Yves Berube, the $10 coin shows an Inuit man lifting a freshly cut ice block in front of a finished igloo. Once the structures are finished, ice blocks are removed from the inside floor to increase space, build a wind tunnel, and create a well for cold air.
The second coin, a $25 offering, shows an Inuit family putting the finishing touches on the igloo. The man is cutting out a small square for light while the woman, carrying a baby on her back, finishes the exterior. A sled dog stands in front of the entrance.
Both coins have a similar design to last year’s series. The central design has clear areas across the top and bottom for inscriptions, while the date and a symbol related to the coin’s theme appear on the sides. Both coins are struck in .9999 silver; the $10 has a diameter of 34 mm, weight of 15.87 grams, and mintage of 40,000; the $25 has a diameter of 38 mm, weight of 31.39 grams, and limit of 8,500.
Gold coin explores Champlain
The third coin in the $200 gold Canadian explorers series shows Samuel de Champlain.
The coin, by Glen Green, shows a full-body portrait of Champlain and a First Nations guide embarking from a pair of birchbark canoes on a shoreline somewhere in Ontario. The explorer holds an astrolabe and notebook and is wearing clothes appropriate to the time. His actual appearance is a matter of conjecture, since no confirmed portraits of Champlain exist. The design uses multiple finishes to emphasize details in the canoe design. The mintage limit of the .9999 gold coin is 2,000. It has a diameter of 29 mm and weight of 15.43 grams. According to the Mint, the series is the start of a buildup for 2017, when Canada will celebrate 150 years of Confederation.
Canada’s formation marked
Another Confederation connection is a second gold coin issued in 14-karat (58.33 per cent) purity.
The coin marks the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences, held in 1854, to discuss the formation of Canada. It has a mintage limit of 2,500, diameter of 27 mm, and weight of 12 grams. The design, by Luc Normandin, shows the two buildings where the conferences were held: the Charlottetown Colonial Building, now Province House; and the Quebec Parliament Buildings, on the site of present-day Chateau Frontenac.
on tiny coin
The Mint’s series of tiny gold coins continues with 50-cent piece utilizing G.E. Kruger Gray’s famous beaver design of 1937, still used on Canadian five-cent coins. The Proof finish coin weighs just 1.27 grams and has a diameter of 13.93 mm, making is smaller than the five-cent coin it commemorates. The mintage limit is just 7,500 coins.
$20 for $20
The launch continues with another offering in the popular $20 for $20 silver coins.
This version, the first of 2014, is the 11th coin in the wildly successful series. Designed by Tennant, it shows a Canada goose in flight and contains 7.96 ounces of .9999 silver. A symbol of Canada, the goose flies from the arctic tundra south to Mexico for the winter with several families creating the famous V formation. When the lead bird gets tired, it falls back and another takes over. Flocks can cover as much at 1,000 kilometres in a single day. The Mint has authorized 225,000 coins, which are sold at face value with a limit of three coins per household. Three other $20 for $20 coins are planned for later this year: a bobcat in March, a summertime theme in May, and holiday candles in October. All the previous coins in the series have sold out, often within just a few days.
The 13-coin series of provincial and territory coats of arms concludes with a $300 fourteen-karat coin honouring Saskatchewan. The series has taken seven years to complete, with just two coins a year issued for the past six years. The shield features a lion, symbol of royalty, and three sheaves of wheat. The shield’s supporters are a lion and a white-tailed deer, both fancifully wearing Prairie Indian beaded collars and the badge of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. Above are a helmet and a beaver carrying a red lily, the provincial flower, and bearing a crown. Beneath is the provincial motto, Multis E Gentibus Vires, Latin for “From Many People’s Strength.”
Created by the Mint’s engravers, the coin has a diameter of 50 mm, weight of 60 grams, and mintage limit of 500.
Blessings of good
Canada’s Chinese-Canadian community is celebrated with the 50-cent blessings of good fortune coin.
Struck in copper with silver plating and a red-painted detail, the coin has a diameter of 42 mm. The design has 13 bamboo tiers engraved with 100 variations on the Chinese word “fu,” which means good fortune. The character is repeated larger on the red detail, red being a traditional colour of good fortune. Designed by Three Degrees Creative Group, the coin has a mintage limit of 14,888.
Two Proof maple leaf coins round out the January launch.
Described as “bullion replica” coins, they are a $5 silver and $50 gold pair, each in .9999 purity. What makes these maples special is that they are struck in reverse Proof finish with frosted fields and mirror finish devices. Mintage limits are 20,000 for the silver and 2,000 gold coins.