By Jesse Robitaille
A tribute to Canada’s first coins, a nearly identical reproduction of the country’s 1870-dated 10-cent piece highlights the Royal Canadian Mint’s November numismatic catalogue.
Unveiled on Nov. 3 along with six other issues, the $10 “Dominion of Canada” coin is struck in a quarter-ounce of 99.99 per cent gold. With a reverse design borrowed from British Victorian-era engraver Leonard Charles Wyon, the coin also features Wyon’s laureate effigy of Queen Victoria from the five- and 10-cent coins of that era on the obverse. The portrait was inspired by the “Young Head” effigy (1838-95) designed by his father and former Royal Mint chief engraver William Wyon.
“It was 150 years ago that a newly minted country issued its first coins,” reads a statement issued by the Mint in November.
The 1870 issue included silver five-, 10-, 25- and 50-cent pieces, all featuring the denomination and year-date within a crowned maple wreath on the reverse. While it appears symmetrical, the maple wreath arrangement includes 21 leaves – 11 on the left and 10 on the right.
A 22-leaf wreath was introduced in 1882.
The reverse design also includes the double dates “1870-2020” – the only difference from the original issue – to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Canada’s first national coinage.
The new issue has a weight of 7.8 grams, a diameter of 20 millimetres and a mintage of 1,000.
A TRIBUTE TO ALEX COLVILLE
A second pure gold coin issued as part of the November catalogue serves as another tribute, this to painter Alex Colville, who was commissioned to design Canada’s centennial circulation coins in 1967.
Struck in a tenth-ounce of 99.99 per cent gold, it’s the fourth issue from the “Tribute to Alex Colville” series, which will see its sixth and final coin unveiled in March. All six of Colville’s wildlife-themed centennial circulation designs are being recreated as part of the series.
Like the original coins, all six 2020 versions feature British sculptor Arnold Machin’s 1965 effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. The reverse features Colville’s iconic side profile of a mackerel with a large eye and fins.
The coin has a weight of 3.14 grams, a diameter of 16 millimetres and a mintage of 1,200.
GRIZZLY BEAR IN ‘FIVE NINES’
A third gold coin, this struck in “Five Nines” gold – 99.999 per cent purity – is the sophomore issue from the ongoing Canadian Wildlife Portraits series.
With a face value of $350, the coin is dubbed “The Grizzly Bear” owing to its reverse portrait of a swimming grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) in “an unguarded moment,” according to a Mint statement.
A North American subspecies of the brown bear, the grizzly bear is one of three bear species found in Canada (the others being the larger-sized polar bear, Ursus maritimus, and the smaller black bear, Ursus americanus). The country is home to about 25,000 grizzly bears.
Designed by Canadian wildlife artist W. Allan Hancock, the reverse depicts the grizzly emerging from the water with water dripping from its snout and fur.
“My intention with this design was to portray the grizzly bear going about its normal activity, while showing both the strength and the beauty of one of Canada’s favourite animals,” Hancock is quoted as saying on the Mint website. “The water not only creates interesting design elements, it also offers a rare glimpse of the powerful grizzly bear enjoying a little down time.”
The word “CANADA” and year-date “2020″ are also engraved on the reverse.
The obverse features Susanna Blunt’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The coin has a weight of 35 grams, a diameter of 34 millimetres and a mintage of 450.
OTHER NOVEMBER COINS
The other coins issued as part of the November catalogue include:
- the ninth $3 Fine silver coin from the 13-piece “Floral Emblems of Canada” series, this featuring Alberta’s wild rose (Rosa acicularis) and with a mintage of 4,000;
- the final $5 Fine silver coin from the 12-piece “Birthstones” series, featuring a tanzanite-toned crystal for the month of December and with a mintage of 5,000;
- a 2021-dated $200 pure gold coin, “The Classical Maple Leaf,” struck in two ounces of 99.99 per cent gold with a reverse proof finish and a mintage of 175; and
- a $500 pure gold diamond-shaped coin embedded with a 0.2-carat Forevermark Black Label diamond and with a mintage of 99.
For more information, visit mint.ca.