Old faces with new missions

If our newest batch of 25-cent coins looks familiar, that’s because they are reworks of designs issued earlier this year for the collector market. I am sure some of you will figure this is proof that the folks in Ottawa are a little short on fresh ideas, or that they are simply trying to make a few more bucks off a design that was already used once before. Don’t feel guilty. I will admit that at first I felt a little ripped off that the Mint was reusing “old” designs.

Then I got to thinking about the issue in a different light, that this was really a positive step. Both the coins already issued, the silver $1 and the silver $3, are attractive, and are sold for a substantial premium over face value. Now we have a chance to acquire these same designs, and it doesn’t cost anything. Even better, since these coins can be bought for face value, you can’t lose money. Years ago, my friend Serge Pelletier suggested that the Royal Canadian Mint could promote collecting by issuing base-metal collector coins that young collectors could afford and that new collectors could acquire with little risk. It may have taken a bit more than a decade, but Serge’s idea is now seeing the light of day.

As with other commemorative programs, the Mint is making free folders available for anyone who wants to try to assemble a collection of his or her own. The Mint has been issuing such folders for a few years. While almost nobody I know has successfully assembled a complete collection out of circulation, I know a lot of non-collectors who have been trying. Anything that gets members of the public looking at coins as something more than spending money has to be good for the hobby. There is an added bonus in that each of the coins has two different finishes on the die. The design is the same, but they look different. That’s interesting and informative. Astute collectors will already know that the Mint has been experimenting with die treatments for a few years now. This year we have seen some striking coins involving complex finishes that combine elements from Proof, Specimen, and business strikes all on one coin.

Now we are seeing circulating coins with elements reminiscent of Proof coins, specifically the use of frosted elements to enhance the design. So in this case I’m kind of happy to see a couple of familiar faces.

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