‘Reaper of Death’ stalks March Mint catalogue

By Jesse Robitaille

Thirteen new issues, including the uncirculated first strikes of the 2021 Special Wrap Roll Collection plus the Bluenose-themed 2021 Fine Silver Proof Set, are among the Royal Canadian Mint’s third numismatic catalogue of the year.

The Mint’s latest catalogue also includes another seven silver coins plus four gold coins, all issued on March 2. One of those silver pieces is also the Mint’s latest dinosaur coin and features the first new tyrannosaur species discovered in Canada in more than half a century. Plated with black rhodium, the $20 Fine silver coin is entitled “Discovering Dinosaurs: Reaper of Death.”

Unearthed in 2010, the “Reaper of Death” (Thanatotheristes degrootorum) is a fascinating Canadian find (and the oldest known tyrannosaur species recorded in North America).

Husband and wife John and Sandra De Groot, of Alberta, found the first fossil fragments in 2010 during a family walk along the Bow River, which runs from the Rocky Mountains, through Calgary and onto the prairies.

But the Reaper was only identified in February 2020 thanks to Jared Voris, a University of Calgary doctoral student of paleontology and the lead researcher on a recent study looking at the new tyrannosaur species. About eight years after the fossils were found, Voris saw them in the collection at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, where they had been stored since 2010. At that time, he was researching a different tyrannosaur species, Gorgosaurus, but quickly noticed the fossils were unlike any tyrannosaur he had ever seen.

The Reaper coin’s obverse (shown) also features a matte-proof finish on the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

“I started to realize, ‘Well, this could actually be a new species,'” Voris told CBC News last February.

Voris’ research found the toothy, two-legged carnivore measured nearly nine metres long from nose to tail. Dating back 79.5 million years, the tyrannosaur had teeth measuring 6.8 centimetres and vertical ridges from its eyes to its nose, something “not like anything we’ve ever seen before in other tyrannosaur species,” he told Live Science, a science news website.

“Exactly what the ridges do, we’re not quite sure,” Voris said, adding it “definitely would have been quite an imposing animal.”

Believe to have lived at the top of the food chain, the new tyrannosaur species pre-dates the Tyrannosaurus rex by 12 million years. Its discovery adds to paleontologists’ understanding of Canada’s pre-historic past.

Paleo-artist Julius Csotonyi, who was the first person to illustrate the new species, designed the reverse of the new coin, featuring the Reaper’s fossilized skull with a matte-proof finish. The skull is set against an engraved rock texture representing the fossil site.

“Csotonyi meticulously replicated the formation in which the fossil fragments were found,” according to the Mint.

The coin measures 38 millimetres in diameter with a weight of 31.39 grams and a mintage of 7,500.

The Mint also issued its 2021 Fine Silver Proof Set this month.

FINE SILVER PROOF SET

This March, the Mint also continued its celebration of the Bluenose centennial.

January saw the release of the Mint’s annual silver proof dollar and $100 gold coin, both of which featured the Bluenose. The theme was carried over to the 2021 Fine Silver Proof Set this March, with the iconic schooner on the exclusive gold-plated version of the 2021 Bluenose proof dollar, designed by Yves Bérubé, plus the set’s double-dated 10-cent coin.

A gold-plated version of the 2021 Bluenose proof dollar is only available as part of the 2021 Fine Silver Proof Set.

While the proof dollar’s obverse effigy depicts King George V from 1921, the year the Bluenose was launched, the 10-cent coin features the obverse effigy of King George VI, who was also on the first 10-cent Bluenose coin issued for circulation in 1937.

The set’s five-, 10-, 25-, 50-cent, $1, $2 and proof dollar coins are all struck in 99.99 per cent silver (and the latter three with selective gold plating). It’s available in a leather book-style packaging with a mintage of 20,000 sets.

‘FIRST 100 YEARS OF CONFEDERATION’

The Mint also issued the second of three coins as part of “The First 100 Years of Confederation,” a series launched in January.

Glen Green designed each of the series’ $50 Fine silver coins with a different art style that was rose to prominence during various Confederation eras, including:

  • 1867-1914 (the first coin, unveiled and issued in January);
  • 1918-39 (the second coin, unveiled in January and issued in March); and
  • the years leading up to Canada’s centennial in 1967 (the third coin, to be unveiled and issued in May).

    This month, the Mint also issued the second of three coins from the ‘First 100 Years of Confederation’ series.

Each obverse features the five effigies of the monarchs who reigned throughout Canada’s first 100 years (Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II).

The series symbolizes early Canadians’ connections through the rail, sea and air. While the first coin, “An Emerging Country,” featured a locomotive, the series’ second coin, “Coming of Age,” explores Canada’s sea-bound innovations through both world wars.

The series’ third and final coin, launching on May 4, is entitled “Canada Takes Wing.”

Each of the coins has a weight of 157.6 grams, a diameter of 65.25 millimetres and a mintage of 1,250.

The sixth $10 Fine silver ‘Great Outdoors’ coin completes a year-long series.

OTHER MARCH COINS

The other nine coins issued as part of the March catalogue include:

  • a 2020-dated $10 Fine silver coin, “O Canada! The Great Outdoors,” completing a six-coin series launched in February 2020;
  • a 2020-dated 110-ounce pure gold coin, “Tribute to Alex Colville: 1967 One-Cent Coin,” completing another six-piece set launched last February;
  • “Nunavut Purple Saxifrage,” the final $3 Fine silver coin from the 13-piece Floral Emblems of Canada series, designed by artist Lisa Thomson-Khan with a mintage of 4,000;
  • a 2021 $5 Fine silver coin, “Silver Maple Leaf: W Mint Mark,” featuring the Silver Maple Leaf design plus the Winnipeg facility’s “W” mintmark with a mintage of 8,000;
  • a 2021 $50 pure gold coin, “Gold Maple Leaf: W Mint Mark,” another Winnipeg-struck numismatic tribute to the Mint’s gold bullion coin with a mintage of 500;
  • a 2021 $20 pure gold coin, “100th Anniversary of Canada’s Coat of Arms,” featuring the 1921 coat of arms with a mintage of 3,000;

    An exclusive $20 Fine silver coin issued this March is available only to members of the Mint’s Masters Club loyalty program.

  • a 2021 $125 Fine silver coin, “Triumphant Dragon,” featuring the artwork of Simon Ng with a mintage of 888;
  • a 2021 $200 pure gold coin, “Celebrating Canada’s Diversity: Eternal Love,” a Celtic-inspired tribute by Bonnie Ross with a mintage of 250; and
  • the 2021 Special Wrap Roll Collection, which includes uncirculated editions of the first 2021-dated coins with a mintage of 5,000 sets.

As part of its “Masters Club,” the Mint also issued an exclusive $20 Fine silver coin, the fourth in an annual series reserved for members of the loyalty program. The coin, which has a mintage of 4,500, was designed by Emily Damstra and celebrates the 25th anniversary of Canada’s national arboreal emblem, the maple tree.

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