By Jesse Robitaille
The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled its June numismatic catalogue with seven new issues, including a set combining a one-ounce silver collector coin with a historic banknote.
The 2021 Numismatic Set, “25 Years of the $2 Piece: From Bill to Coin,” celebrates a quarter-century of Canada’s bi-metallic $2 circulation coin. In a unique pairing highlighting the coin’s beginnings, the set includes a 99.99 per cent pure silver reproduction of the “toonie” that debuted on Feb. 19, 1996, alongside a genuine $2 replacement note.
“The uncirculated $2 bill is from the Bank of Canada’s 1986 Birds of Canada series and represents the last of its kind,” according to a statement from the Mint. “Note the ‘BRX’ in its serial number – the prefix identifies it as a replacement banknote. Replacement notes rarely enter circulation, and this one has been locked in the Royal Canadian Mint’s vault for 25 years.”
The central bank stopped issued $2 notes the same day the toonie officially entered circulation at Bens De Luxe Delicatessen and Restaurant in Montréal.
The coin was first proposed by the federal Liberal government in its 1995 budget as a measure to save Canadian taxpayers more than $250 million over 20 years. This was because of the coin’s 20-year lifespan, which greatly exceeded the $2 banknote’s one-year lifespan.
Festivities marked the toonie’s introduction across Canada, including in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, Halifax and Edmonton. At bank-sponsored coin exchanges, the public was also invited to trade in their old banknotes and other coins for the new toonie.
The circulation coin’s iconic polar bear design, produced by Canadian wildlife artist Brent Townsend, is recreated on the reverse of the 38-millimetre collector coin. The obverse features the same effigy of Queen Elizabeth II but with double dates, “1996-2021,” added below.
There is a mintage of 7,500 sets, each of which is packaged in a black clamshell case and “beauty box.”
Among the June catalogue’s six individual coins are three high-value gold coins.
A $200 pure gold coin – the Mint’s first “Super Incuse Gold Maple Leaf (GML)” – is part of the Crown corporation’s 2021 Arboreal Anniversary Collection.
On the reverse, the coin’s iconic maple leaf design is engraved 1.5 millimetres below the surface, a feat achieved through new technology from the Royal Canadian Mint’s research and development team.
Last year’s rhodium-plated GML coin featured an incuse depth of just 0.3 millimetres.
The 2021 coin includes a “25” maple leaf privy mark tying into the arboreal theme, marking the 25th anniversary of Canada’s national arboreal emblem, the maple tree.
“With ‘Super Incuse’ technology, you’ll see the GML’s famous maple leaf in a whole new way,” added the Mint statement. “The engraving is just as intricate and beautifully detailed as on previous GML coins, but the extreme relief depth highlights the complexity of the maple leaf’s shape and features.”
With a mintage of 225, the coin has a weight of 63.31 grams, a 36-millimetre diameter and is packaged in a black clamshell and beauty box.
The original GML design was produced by late Austrian-trained master engraver Walter Ott, who came to Canada in 1952 before retiring in 1985.
A $350 pure gold coin, “Canadian Wildlife Portraits – The Caribou,” is the third coin in the Mint’s annual premium gold collectible series.
“Each coin is a celebration of Canadian wildlife and our wild, untamed nature,” according to the Mint.
With a mintage of 450, this year’s issue combines two different views – a close-up at left and a full view towards the background – designed by W. Allan Hancock, of Salt Spring Island, B.C. It’s struck in 99.999 per cent pure gold (known as “Five Nines” gold) and weighs 35 grams with a 34-millimetre diameter. It’s also packaged in a black clamshell and beauty box.
Rounding out the June gold issues is a $2,500 pure gold piece, “Lunar Year of the Tiger,” with a design by Toronto-based artist Aries Cheung.
The Year of the Tiger – in 2022 – will mark the beginning of the Mint’s new 12-year Lunar New Year coin series.
“The King of the Mountain, a traditional symbol of power and luck, has never looked more regal and fearless than on this numismatic work of art,” reads the recent Mint statement.
With a mintage of only 33, the coin weighs 1,005 grams with a 102-millimetre diameter. It’s packaged in a red wooden case with a custom red outer box.
While the coin was unveiled on June 1, it ships beginning on Aug. 3.
OTHER JUNE COINS
The other June issues, also unveiled on June 1, include:
- a $20 Fine silver coin, “Super Incuse One-Ounce Silver Maple Leaf,” which echoes the “Super Incuse” GML issue with a mintage of 6,000;
- a $50 Fine silver coin, “The Solar System,” which comes with a blacklight flashlight and has a mintage of 1,250; and
- a $100 Fine silver coin, “Canada’s Provinces and Territories Flags,” which features each flag over its respective provincial or territorial border with a mintage of 750.
For full details, visit mint.ca.