By Jesse Robitaille
A trio of coin sets – one with a commemorative medallion – was unveiled in late June by the Royal Canadian Mint, which will resume shipping its numismatic orders in July.
After issuing its first three numismatic catalogues of 2020 in January, February and March, the Mint was forced to suspend production and shipping in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Crown corporation has since resumed production and continued to unveil coins through April, May and June, these issues won’t begin shipping until later this summer (the issues unveiled in April, May and early June will begin shipping in July, August and September, respectively).
The following issues, which were unveiled on June 30, will begin shipping in October.
Among the highlights of the latest release is the third annual “Canadian Circulation Collection,” which includes a set of six Fine silver coins plus a “faithful reproduction” of the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal (CVSM). The CVSM medallion is only available as part of this set, which is the Mint’s only annual set to feature colourized versions of Canada’s circulation coin designs in 99.99 per cent pure silver.
While the set predominantly features Canada’s classic circulation designs, the five-cent coin is an exclusive colourized tribute to the “Victory” nickel designed by Thomas Shingles, who also originally engraved the medallion when it was launched in 1943.
With the CVSM, Canada became the first Commonwealth country to recognize voluntary service in the Second World War. The medal was crafted in .925 silver with an obverse design by war artist Charles Fraser Comfort based on photographs of seven marching members of Canada’s army, air force, navy and nursing service. The inscription “1939 CANADA 1945 VOLUNTARY SERVICE VOLONTAIRE” is also around the rim of the obverse.
The medal’s reverse features the coat of arms used by Canada from 1923-57.
Initially, the CVSM was only awarded to members of Canada’s military forces and merchant navy who “honourably completed” 18 months of total voluntary service between Sept. 3, 1939, and March 1, 1947; however, eligibility was expanded to include members of civilian and military support organizations in 2001 and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2003. More than 650,000 medals have been awarded in the medal’s 77-year existence.
All six denominations come in their standard size while the medal weighs 23.17 grams with a 36-millimetre diameter – its original size.
There’s a mintage of 7,000 sets, each held in book-style packaging measuring 190 millimetres by 125 millimetres.
This is the only 2020 set to include a colourized version of the Victory nickel issued by the Mint to commemorate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day.
FIRST NATIONAL COINAGE
A four-coin set, “Canada’s First National Coinage,” was also unveiled by the Mint in late June to mark the 150th anniversary of the country’s first national coins.
The set features five-, 10-, 25- and 50-cent coins, each of which is struck in 99.99 per cent silver and twice its original size with the double dates 1870-2020.
Following Confederation, the newly formed Dominion of Canada inherited a currency system propped up by an array of private tokens, banknotes, regional denominations and foreign currency. An influx of depreciated U.S. silver coins in the late 1860s – known as the “silver nuisance” – finally pushed the nascent Canadian government to introduce a unified system of silver coinage to circulate in all provinces.
The master tooling for the 1858 Province of Canada coins was repurposed for the country’s new five- and 10-cent coins; however, the 25- and 50-cent coins were new denominations and required new tooling, opening the door for a new effigy – the “diademed” portrait of a young Queen Victoria.
For historical authenticity, the set’s four coins feature the 1870 reverse and obverse designs, the latter of which includes two different effigies of Queen Victoria (the youthful “laureate” portrait on the five- and 10-cent coins and the “diademed” portrait on the higher denominations) by Leonard Wyon.
For his “laureate” portrait, Wyon was inspired by the “Young Head” effigy used from 1838-95 and designed by his father and chief engraver William Wyon, also of the Royal Mint.
Each reverse features Wyon’s design of crossed maple boughs surmounted by St. Edward’s Crown.
The five-cent coin includes half an ounce of silver and measures 34 millimetres with a weight of 15.87 grams; the 10-cent coin includes one ounce of silver and measures 38 millimetres with a weight of 31.39 grams; the 25-cent coin includes two ounces of silver and measures 50 millimetres with a weight of 62.69 grams; and the 50-cent coin includes five ounces of silver and measures 65.25 millimetres with a weight of 157.6 grams. There’s a mintage of 850 sets, each packaged in a wooden case.
PATHFINDERS PUZZLE COIN
Rounding out the recent unveilings is the 14-piece puzzle coin set, “The Four Winds: Pathfinders in Canada.”
On the $50 central coin, the reverse design by Canadian artist Rebecca Yanovskaya features a selectively gold-plated compass rose and a personification of the Four Winds. The 13 surrounding $20 puzzle-shaped pieces include sepia-toned portraits of famous “pathfinders” spanning nearly 1,000 years of Canadian history.
“I’ve always been drawn to stories on the high seas, especially with benevolent spirits of nature watching over and guiding the adventurers,” Yanovskaya is quoted as saying on the Mint website.
“Greek mythology and high fantasy novels inspire many of my designs, and with the middle coin, I wanted to pay homage to the Age of Exploration and the unique wonder of sighting a new piece of land in the distance.”
Each obverse features the gold-plated effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
There’s a mintage of 800 sets, each with a combined weight of 502.47 grams and a diameter of 123.7 millimetres. The sets are held in a wooden collector case with a black beauty box, and each coin is individually encapsulated.
For more information about the recent unveilings, visit mint.ca.