Raptors’ 25th season opens with victory as two commemoratives issued by RCM

By Jesse Robitaille

A pair of coins marking a quarter-century of Toronto Raptors basketball is among 15 new issues released by the Royal Canadian Mint as part of its November numismatic catalogue.

Celebrating the Raptors’ 25th season, which began on Oct. 22 with a 130-122 overtime win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans, two 2020-dated coins were issued along with the rest of the Mint’s latest catalogue on Nov. 5. Both coins are only available in Canada.

A one-ounce silver coin with a face value of $25 features the original Raptors logo, which was used between the 1995-96 and 2007-08 seasons. The coin’s reverse is coloured in the logo’s original red, purple, black and silver colours and features a stylized rendition of a basketball.

The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

The coin, whose package also includes an NBA authenticity hologram, has a weight of 31.39 grams, a diameter of 39 millimetres and a mintage of 8,500 pieces.

A 25-cent nickel-plated steel coin was also issued as part of the Mint’s November catalogue.

A 25-cent nickel-plated steel coin offers what the Mint describes as “an affordable alternative” for fans and collectors alike.

It features the current Raptors logo – a basketball with a claw mark – encircled by the team name. This logo was introduced in December 2014, replacing the 2008 update to the team’s original logo.

Again, the obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II and the packaging includes an NBA authenticity hologram.

This coin has a mintage of 100,000 pieces.

While the Raptors kicked off the 2020 season at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena with a home-opener tailgate at the now-famous Jurassic Park, where thousands of fans flocked to celebrate the team’s first game back as NBA champions, they finished last season by winning Canada’s first National Basketball Association (NBA) title.

Toronto was added to the NBA roster in the 1995-96 season in an expansion that included two Canadian teams. Since 2001-02, when the Vancouver Grizzlies were relocated to Memphis, Tenn., the Raptors have been Canada’s only NBA team.

Despite this seemingly solitary state, Toronto has been home to some of the league’s biggest superstars through the team’s 25-year history. With a fan base spanning the entire country and anchored by the motto “We The North,” the Raptors have also broken NBA records for attendance.

A TRI-METAL COIN WITH ATMOSPHERIC LAYERS

A 25-cent tri-metal coin issued this November celebrates the first Canadian in Space.

A 2019-dated 25-cent coin, “First Canadian in Space,” honours Marc Garneau, who was not only the first Canadian in space but also one of the first Canadian astronauts.

Now Liberal Transport Minister, Garneau was one of six people chosen from more than 4,000 applicants to the new Canadian Astronaut Program (CAP) in 1984. From Oct. 5-13 of that year, he flew on the shuttle Challenger as the payload specialist. Two years later, he was promoted to captain before leaving his post with the Royal Canadian Navy in 1989 to become deputy director of the CAP. A few years later, he became a mission specialist and flew on another two flights – in 1996 and 2000 – before rising to the helm of the Canadian Space Agency in November 2001.

The tri-metal coin honouring Garneau’s first flight depicts the space shuttle rocketing through layers of the atmosphere represented by the inner cupronickel ring and an outer bronze ring. The centre core – representing Earth – is made of brass.

The coin has a weight of 51.31 grams, a diameter of 50.25 millimetres and a mintage of 15,000 pieces.

The obverse of the ‘First Canadian in Space’ coin features the right-facing effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

OTHER NOVEMBER COINS

Other coins issued as part of the November catalogue include:

  • a $1 Fine silver coin, “Peacekeeping,” which is the fifth from the Mint’s series of renewed silver dollars and is only available to “Master’s Club” members with a mintage of 2,500;
  • a $3 Fine silver coin, “Aurora Borealis,” which is the 11th issue from the 12-coin “Celebrating Canadian Fun and Festivities” series and has a mintage of 4,000;
  • a $5 Fine silver coin, “Sagittarius,” which is from the 12-coin “Zodiac” series and has a mintage of 4,000;
  • a $30 Fine silver coin, “Golden Eagles,” which is the third and final issue from the “Majestic Birds in Motion” series with a mintage of 2,500;
  • a $200 ultra-high relief pure gold coin, “Forevermark Black Label Square,” which includes a 0.20-carat diamond and has a mintage of 300 pieces;
  • a $500 pure gold coin, “40th Anniversary of the Gold Maple Leaf,” which has a weight of 156.05 grams, a diameter of 60.15 millimetres and a mintage of 99 pieces;
  • a 2020-dated five-cent bronze coin, “The Canadian Home Front The Victory Nickel,” which has a mintage of 8,000 pieces;
  • a 2020-dated $20 Fine silver coin, “Black and Gold: The Canadian Horse,” a gold- and black rhodium-plated coin with a mintage of 3,500 pieces;
  • a 2020-dated $50 Fine silver coin, “The Caribou,” which is the second of six pieces from the “Real Shapes” series and has a mintage of 1,200 pieces;
  • a 2020-dated $20 Fine silver coin, “Holiday Cookies,” which is topped by a Murano glass gingerbread man and has a mintage of 5,500 pieces; and
  • a 2020-dated $50 Fine silver coin, “Christmas Train,” which features a gravity-activated moving train and a mintage of 1,000 pieces.

For more information, visit mint.ca.

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