The Royal Canadian Mint’s latest product launch includes oversized colorful Specimen finish 25-cent coins celebrating the birds and the bees (the rose-breasted grosbeak and a bumble bee), as well as an aster.
“The birds and the bees” is more than the topic of an uncomfortable talk with your children — it might be one way to label the latest outpouring of collector coins from the Royal Canadian Mint.
Just add “trees” to the list, though.
In the Royal Canadian Mint’s April 16 release, the third launch for the RCM in calendar year 2012, the narrow focus of themes touches on the season, spring, offering collectors coins featuring a bird, bee, flower, and lots and lots and lots of maple leaves.
Birds and bees
The ninth release in the popular series depicting Birds of Canada honors the rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), which winters in central Mexico and northern South America before returning to the heavily wooded second-growth deciduous and mixed forests spread from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.
The reverse of the Specimen-finish copper-nickel coin shows a bright-chested male rose-breasted grosbeak perched delicately on the stem of a maple tree, in a scene actually struck on the coin (unlike some earlier issues, which appear as color applied to a smooth surface). Arnold Nogy designed the reverse.
All of the coins feature the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.
The oversized 25-cent coin measures 35 millimeters in diameter, compared to the 23.88-millimeter size of a standard circulating 25-cent coin. The oversized coins weigh 11.6 grams; the standard 25-cent coin, 4.4 grams. The Grosbeak 25-cent coin has a mintage of 20,000 pieces and is priced at $29.95.
A colorful aster and bumble bee design is shared (though with some differences in detail) by another oversized Specimen copper-nickel 25-cent coin and companion Proof .9999 fine silver $20 coin. The two coins together compose the second issues in an annual series honoring colorful flowers and their “friends,” according to the RCM.
The reverses of the two coins, designed by Maurice Gervais, show a bee, or as the RCM describes it, “nature’s canny cultivator,” engaged in pollination with a purple aster.
The Specimen 25-cent coin measures 35 millimeters in diameter and weighs 11.6 grams; it has a mintage limit of 20,000 pieces and costs $29.95.
The Proof $20 coin with the same theme is adorned with a handcrafted glass bumble bee from Murano, Italy, by artist Giuliano Donaggio; the glass bee has a different appearance than the die-struck bee on the 25-cent coin. The $20 coin weighs 31.39 grams, measures 38 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 10,000 pieces.
The $20 coin had an original issue price of $139.95 but the mintage quickly sold out (though the RCM website lists the coin as delayed shipping until May 18); distributor Talisman Coins has the coin on the secondary market for $229.95.
Canadians are inextricably linked to the maple leaf, and the latest batch of coins is decidedly weighted to honor the deciduous doyenne of the north.
A Proof Maple Leaf Crystal Raindrop .9999 fine silver $20 coin is the fifth in a series of colorful coins adding a crystal element to the maple leaf on the reverse design. A Swarovski crystal “drips” from the tip of the auburn leaf (an admittedly fall color choice) in a design by Celia Godkin.
The coin weighs 31.39 grams, measures 38 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 10,000 pieces (all previous issues have sold out, according to the RCM). It is priced at $119.95.
Also launched are five different versions of a Maple Leaf Forever design by illustrator Luc Normandin, showing three different maple leaves stacked, their stalks touching. Certain specifications and legend details appear in different locations on the coins, depending on the version, but the design of three leaves is a constant.
Normandin’s design appears on a Specimen .9999 fine gold $5 coin, the first in a planned series of small gold coins featuring Canada’s iconic emblem, according to the RCM.
The $5 coin weighs 3.13 grams, measures 16 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 25,000 pieces. The issue price is $229.95.
A Proof .9999 fine silver $10 version offers the Maple Leaf Forever theme (with a circle behind the design) in a small-size silver coin. The $10 coin weighs 15.87 grams and measures 34 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 100,000 pieces at a price of $34.95 each.
Three other Proof Maple Leaf Forever coins are targeted at collectors who want investment-grade precious metal versions of the designs, offering silver, platinum or gold.
A .9995 fine platinum $300 coin weighs 31.16 grams, measures 30 millimeters in diameter, has a mintage limit of 250 pieces and is priced at $2,999.95.
A .9999 fine silver $250 coin weighs 1,000 grams, measures 101.8 millimeters, and has a mintage limit of 1,200 pieces; its price is $2,249.95.
A Maple Leaf Forever 1,000-gram .999 fine gold $2,500 measures 101.6 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 30 pieces. The coin has a price tag of $69,000.
Prices are listed in Canadian funds. The U.S. prices for collectors in the United States buying directly from the RCM will fluctuate with the exchange rate, calculated at the time of purchase.
Telephone the RCM inside the United States at 800-268-6468. In Canada, telephone the RCM at 800-267-1871. Visit the RCM website at www.mint.ca.
United States distributors for the RCM carry the various coins at fixed prices in U.S. dollars.
Gatewest Coin Ltd., Brian Jenner Inc. and Talisman Coins are all official distributors for the RCM.
To contact Gatewest inside the United States, telephone the firm at 204-489-9112 or visit it online at www.gatewestcoin.com.
Telephone Talisman at 888-552-2646 or visit its website, www.talismancoins.com.
Write to Jenner at P.O. Box 2466-a, Pasco, WA 99302, or telephone him at 509-735-2172. ■