Silver sales, hoards, discoveries, and record sales were the tale of the first half of 2014. A year which also saw the Royal Canadian Mint continue its meteoric rise to a multi-billion dollar business.
Silver prices started the year at $19.71 an ounce, about 36 per cent lower than the start of 2013.
Even with lower prices, the market was strong, largely fuelled by the speculation that always surrounds silver.
Bullion continued strong throughout the first part of the year. Bullion sales, combined with robust demand for collector coins, saw the Mint post higher revenue and profits than in 2013.
The Royal Canadian Mint set the tone for the year, with the silver dollar in the annual Proof set marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Although the anniversary itself did not take place until August, the coin showed a couple saying farewell alongside a troop train. It was the first of several coins planned around Canada’s role in the Great War.
The 2014 Winter Olympics hadn’t started yet, but on Jan. 11 the 2014 lucky loonie was released, with some five million circulating strikes.
South of the border, a Brasher doubloon, one of the most famous early American coins, sold for $4.5 million while an example of the ultra-rare 1913 nickel from the Philadelphia Mint sold for $3.3 million.
In February, Don Carlson, manager of Albern Coins in Calgary, and his wife Roxanne, were found dead in their homes, the victims of homicide. Although Gatewest Coins, owners of Albern, posted a reward, the crime remains unsolved.
Also in February, a California couple discovered a hoard of 1,500 gold coins, with an estimated value of $10 million, buried in several cans under a tree.
The coins, which dated from the late 1800s, included a rare 1877S no motto double eagle, PCGS MS-66, estimated at $1 million.
In March, Canadian Coin News marked its golden jubilee with a two-volume look at 50 years of coin collecting in Canada.
The RCM initiated a search for a replacement for Ian Bennett, who had steered the RCM through several terms as master. The year before, Bennett had announced his plans to retire in the spring of 2014.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries announced they had acquired a massive hoard of more than a million U.S. coins. Made up of mostly circulated coins, the hoard weighed in at 30 tons and had to be transported in two trucks.
In a rare case of a coin being issued to honour a living person, the RCM issued a $5 coin to mark Canadian author Alice Munro’s accomplishment of receiving the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature.
Other Canadian Nobel laureates previously honoured on coins included Lester Pearson and Frederick Banting.
The canonization of former pope John Paul II was marked with gold and silver coin issues.
It was the second time the pontiff had appeared on a Canadian coin. In 2005 he had been the subject of a $10 gold and $75 silver coin issue marking his official visit to Canada that year.
At the Ontario Numismatic Association convention, held in Windsor, Ont., Chris Faulkner of Ottawa received the organization’s highest honour, the Award of Merit.
Other awards presented included the Bruce H. Razmann Award to Len Trakalo, Brantford; and Fellowships to Todd Hume, Fort Erie; Serge Pelletier, Ottawa; and Brett Irick, Detroit, Mich.
A pattern 1865 Newfoundland gold $2 sold for more than $100,000 in a Chicago auction.
One of only two-known examples, it was provenanced to the King Farouk and Norweb collections.
As the year neared the half-way point, the RCM released its annual report for 2013.
That year was the best in the corporation’s history, with revenues of more than $3 billion, and pre-tax profits of $48 million. Profits after taxes were $36.2 million, the highest in the Crown corporation’s history.
The first part of the year also saw significant Canadian auctions at the CAND, Torex, and Toronto Coin Expo events, as well as the first Canadian Legacy Sale, held in Toronto.
Part Two in next issue