Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of circulating commemorative coins.
Admittedly, one reason is that I like seeing different coins in my change, but I also think it is a great way to engage new collectors.
For one thing, as I have said before, it is cost effective. There is absolutely zero risk involved in starting collecting coins from pocket change. You get the fun of hunting down unusual stuff, and if you decide down the road these coins are no longer of interest, you can spend them and get back exactly what you paid for them in the first place.
Of course for that to work, the designs have to make sense.
From time to time, I hear people suggesting that putting Canadian prime ministers on our coins would teach history and make collecting fun. I’m not so sure.
For years now we have been putting prime ministers (albeit dead ones) on our folding money, and I seriously doubt that most Canadians can correctly name each one.
There have been 22 individuals who have been prime minister of Canada, but I doubt if many of us could name three-quarters; not recognizing them on a coin wouldn’t help matter much.
I tried making my list, but it was sort of embarrassing for me to discover that it included Sir George-Etienne Cartier, who was a father of Confederation but never served as prime minister.
Speaking of the fathers of Confederation, we can’t even agree who to put on the list, let alone how to honour them.
The generally accepted list includes some 36 individuals who participated in the Charlottetown, Quebec, and London conferences, but some people want to add individuals such as Newfoundland’s Joey Smallwood, and B.C.’s Amor De Cosmos, or even Louis Riel.
All of these are individuals who deserve honouring, but not on our money.
To mean something, coins have to have images that strike a chord with us.
Some of the greatest commemoratives have been the 1967 series, which paid tribute to Canada’s nature, and the Canada 125 series, which gave us familiar landscapes. Those are the sort of coins that get attention, which means they get collected.
For my money, circulating commemorative coins are great, if they have a design we can like.
Fortunately, Sir John A. Macdonald is widely recognized and generally well thought of. A good choice for a coin.