King George VI and Queen Elizabeth greet a crowd from the back of the royal train during their 1939 Royal Visit to Canada, as seen on the reverse of a new Antique Finish silver $20 coin from Canada.
In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada and the United States on a grand tour, the first time reigning monarchs had visited North America.
The Royal Canadian Mint celebrates the 75th anniversary of the tour with three collector coins, released May 6.
Two of the coins are composed of .9999 fine silver: an Antique Finish $20 coin and a Proof $25 coin. The additional coin the RCM issued with the same theme is a .9999 fine gold $200 coin.
The royal tour was more than two years in the making; a grand 29-day voyage across Canada from east to west and back again — almost 14,000 kilometers (8,699 miles) by rail. It also included a brief foray into the United States.
The trip had large geopolitical meanings and was seen as necessary to shore up support in both Canada and the United States for the pending war.
All of the coins feature Susanna Blunt’s effigy of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, on the obverse.
The reverse of the silver $20 coin is borrowed from a popular archival photograph taken during the visit. The king and queen appear on a platform on the final car of the royal train, where they would disembark and board the train, in a scene that is “one of the most memorable moments from the tour,” according to the RCM.
The king is in military dress and the queen wears white gloves, pearls and fur cuffs.
The Antique Finish (usually used for medals) accents the historic nature of the scene, according to the RCM.
The $20 coin weighs 31.39 grams and measures 38 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 5,000 pieces and retails for $139.95 Canadian.
The other two coins share the same basic design and are both struck in what the RCM calls "Ultra High Relief."
The silver $25 and gold $200 coins are struck four times using special tooling and blanks developed specifically for the ultra high relief, and then polished by hand.
Normally reserved for large medals, the technique is used to “create an effigy that literally rises from the coin’s surface, like a sculpture,” according to the RCM.
Based on historical archived photos, RCM engravers show effigies of the king and queen as they appeared during the tour.
The silver $25 coin weighs 30.76 grams, measures 36 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 6,000 pieces. The gold $200 coin weighs 33.17 grams, measures 30 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 500 pieces.
The silver $25 coin is released at $149.95 Canadian and the gold $200 coin is issued at $2,999.95 Canadian.
All prices are listed in Canadian dollars. The U.S. prices for collectors in the United States buying from the RCM 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. Collectors can visit the RCM website to order.
Talisman offers the $20 coin for $119.95, the $25 coin for $129.95 and the gold $200 coin for $2,599.95. Gatewest offers the $20 coin for $121.95, the $25 coin for $130.95 and the gold coin for $2,608.95.