By Jesse Robitaille
Despite a temporary production suspension due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Royal Canadian Mint issued 13 coins plus a circulation roll as part of its April numismatic catalogue.
The Mint began what it expected to be a two-week production halt on March 20 and was planning to resume “modified production” in early April, according to a statement issued by Mint President and CEO Marie Lemay. The move was an attempt “to reduce the risk to our staff and maintain critical services” during the outbreak, which as of March 31 claimed more than 43,000 lives worldwide, including in Canada, where more than 100 have died.
“We do however anticipate a longer suspension of production and shipping for our numismatic collectable coins as we prioritize the support of trade and commerce,” added Lemay’s statement.
On April 1 – just two days before the Mint was planning to resume production – senior manager of public affairs Alex Reeves said “the situation remains very fluid and … our operational plans are evolving on a regular basis.”
“Under these circumstances, it is too soon to offer details on the resumption of production,” he added.
As of April 1, the Mint’s inventory included “a limited supply” of bullion coins, with the Crown corporation “fulfilling all the orders we can,” Reeves said. Meanwhile, the production of minted products, which includes bullion and numismatics, remains temporarily suspended in Ottawa.
“We are also continuing to fully secure our facilities, operate the refinery and allow for the receipt and withdrawal of available products. We are still providing liquidity to refinery and pool customers by producing large cast gold bar products as well as maintaining services to our storage customers and ETR (exchange traded receipts) programs.”
By April 7, the Mint resumed production of its one-ounce Gold Maple Leaf and Silver Maple Leaf bullion coins.
“The Mint continues to prioritize manufacturing that supports the essential mining and financial sectors, while following protocols that keep our employees healthy and safe,” Reeves told CCN on April 7.
Looking ahead to next month’s May numismatic catalogue and beyond, Reeves said the remainder of this year’s coin program, “beyond April, remains a work in progress.”
“We’ll announce the product line up as per our usual timelines.”
While the Mint’s boutiques in Winnipeg and Ottawa are closed, its “customer solutions centre” remains open at 1-800-267-1871. Coins are still available to order via mint.ca, as well as through the Mint’s representatives, but all packages “will be safely held at the Mint until shipping operations have resumed,” according to a statement posted on the Mint’s website.
Among the highlights of this month’s 13-coin catalogue is a $50 Fine silver coin, “Franklin’s Lost Arctic Expedition,” which is a combination of “art and storytelling” and has a mintage of 750.
Designed by Matt Bowen, this new issue comes as underwater archeologists recovered more than 350 artifacts from the 19th-century wreck of the HMS Erebus last fall. Since then, researchers have reshaped their theory about what happened during the doomed Franklin Expedition.
In 1845, British explorer John Franklin set sail from England with nearly 130 crew and two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, in search of a Northwest Passage. A year later, both ships became stuck in ice in present-day Nunavut. Franklin’s ships and crew were last seen by Inuit on King William Island.
For nearly two centuries, researchers have tried to retrace the lost expedition.
In September 2014, Parks Canada announced the discovery of the Erebus wreckage. Two years later, Terror was found.
“The results from the 2019 Franklin research missions were truly remarkable. It was the most productive and successful one to date,” said Parks Canada underwater archaeologist Marc-André Bernier during a press conference on Feb. 20.
While it was previously believed the crew abandoned the ships, it’s now thought they “did reintegrate a ship, sailed down further, and then abandoned it again.”
The new coin, which carries a weight of 157.6 grams and a 68.81-millimetre diameter, also features corrugated edges. Its jagged outline resembles “the ice that trapped Franklin’s two ships,” according to the Mint catalogue.
LIBERATION OF NETHERLANDS
Two coins featuring then-monarch King George VI on the obverse are also out this month to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied liberation of the Netherlands.
“Thanks to the hard work, courage and great sacrifices of so many Canadian and other Allied troops, enemy forces in the country surrendered on May 5, 1945, finally liberating all of the Netherlands,” reads an article published online by Veterans Affairs Canada. “All German forces on the continent would unconditionally surrender on May 7, 1945, and the next day was declared Victory in Europe (V-E) Day.”
The First Canadian Army fought German forces from September 1944-April 1945, with more than 7,600 of them dying “in the efforts to free the country,” the article adds.
“Others returned home with injuries to body and mind that they would bear for the rest of their lives.”
One of the coins is a $10 Fine silver piece with a colourized reverse design featuring the same soldier who appears as the middle silhouette on the Mint’s 2020 proof dollar. The top of the reverse also includes dots and dashes is a repeating “V” – for Victory – in Morse code.
As with all coins in the Mint’s 2020 “75th Anniversary of V-E Day” collection, this piece features a special privy mark inspired by the 1945 Victory nickel design.
The 2020 coin – dubbed “75th Anniversary of The Liberation of the Netherlands – Canadian Army” – was designed by Joel Kimmel and has a weight of 15.87 grams, a diameter of 34 millimetres and a mintage of 100,000.
The second coin, a $100 Fine silver piece, features selective gold plating on both the obverse and reverse to highlight key symbols of Canada and the Netherlands’ relationship. With a diameter of 76.25 millimetres, this 10-ounce coin is the Mint’s largest “Liberation of the Netherlands” commemorative coin. It also features the repeating “V” in Morse code at the top of the reverse.
Designed by John Mantha and entitled “Liberation of the Netherlands: Operation Manna,” the coin has a mintage of 550.
The rest of the Mint’s April numismatic catalogue, which was issued on April 7, includes:
- the second of 13 $3 Fine silver coins, this featuring Quebec’s blue flag iris, from the “Floral Emblems” series;
- the fifth of 12 $5 Fine silver coins, this featuring three Swarovski crystals (including an emerald birthstone), from the 2020 “Birthstones” series;
- the second of six $10 Fine silver coins, “Maple Leaves,” from the “O Canada!” series;
- the 10th and final $20 Fine silver coin from the “Second World War: Battlefront” series, this marking the 75th anniversary of V-E Day;
- a $30 Fine silver coin, “Canadian Maple Leaf Brooch Legacy,” which recreates one of the Queen’s celebrated brooches with more than 100 natural white zircons comprising three carats;
- the first of four $30 Fine silver coins, “Bighorn Sheep,” from the “Imposing Icons” series;
- a $200 pure gold coin, “The Queen Elizabeth Rose,” which features a 13-millimetre flower made of 18-karat rose gold on the reverse and has a mintage of 300;
- a $300 pure platinum coin, “Maple Leaf Forever,” with rose-gold plating, a weight of 31.16 grams and a mintage of 250;
- a $500 pure gold coin, “Splendid Maple Leaves,” with a weight of 156.05 grams and a mintage of 99; and
- the second of six 1/10th-ounce pure gold coins from the “Tribute to Alex Colville” series, which recreates the artist’s 1967 wildlife-themed circulation coin designs, the latest of which is the “Howling Wolf” half-dollar.
As part of its April catalogue, the Mint also issued its annual 50-cent circulation coin roll, which is a special wrap roll with 25 half-dollars. A total of 30,000 rolls were issued.
For more information, visit mint.ca.