Some Canadians who ordered the new silver $20 coin at face value on
the Royal Canadian Mint Web site were surprised when they received
their order by mail because it included a special offer to buy the new
2011 Parks Canada Proof silver dollar and an invitation to join a
subscription program for coins issued in the 1980s and 1990s.
The 2011 silver dollar was offered at $55.95 Canadian, plus
shipping, handling and taxes.
A letter signed by the Mint’s Chief Operating Officer, Beverley A.
Lepine, explained: “If you decide to keep your 2011 Parks Canada
Silver Dollar, we will add your name to the reservation list for the
commemorative silver dollar subscription. Once a month, you’ll receive
your next silver dollar coin in the subscription series. ...”
An enclosed three-leaf color brochure identifies the next six
pieces in the program as:
➤ 1981 Canadian Pacific Railway dollar
➤ 1985 Canada’s National Parks dollar
➤ 1994 Dog Team Patrol dollar
➤ 1993 Stanley Cup dollar
➤ 1996 McIntosh Apple dollar
All six coins are offered at the same $55.95-plus price.
Lepine’s letter further states: “With your third coin you will
receive, free of charge, an attractive Coin Case [sic] to store your
valuable collection. When you purchase your fifth coin, you will also
receive an exclusive gift: a Silver Edition Wristwatch — a masterpiece
of precision and beauty.”
The brochure also shows the two “free gifts” and includes a chart
that shows the “evolution of the price of silver November 9,
2009–November 8, 2010,” which graphs the increase of the price of
silver from slightly more than $17 an ounce to nearly $27 U.S.
RCM spokesman Alexandre Reeves said, “The Mint is always looking
for innovative ways to interest people in our numismatic products and
we feel this new subscription offer could ignite a passion for coin
collecting among our customers.”
An informal survey of collectors who ordered the $20 face-value
coin suggests that the subscription program offer was only sent to
those that may have been identified as a “new customer” at the time of ordering.
Longtime Canadian collector Rick Faucher said, “I will never sign
up for this, neither would I recommend it,” citing the facts that “the
coins from 1971 to 1991 are .500 silver not sterling” (.925 fine) and
that “all these coins are readily available, in their original
packaging, at local coin dealers at significantly reduced prices” from
what the RCM is charging.
Current retail guides for Canadian coins such as the 2010
Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, Volume Two,
Collector Issues lists the older coins in the subscription plan in
Mint State 68 in a value range from $14 to $30 Canadian.
Faucher questioned the RCM’s approach. “The majority of collectors
that have purchased these coins in the 1980s and 1990s feel that this
has been a very bad investment as the resell value is slightly over
bullion value. What will happen if these new collectors decide to sell
He and others point out that many collectors have experienced a
rude awakening in the past when they realized they overpaid for new
issues. They note that some left the hobby while others remained.
Even if these new collectors are not overpaying, the seasoned
collectors point out that the coin box and watch “are not free.”
In response an inquiry about its decision to purchase earlier
commemorative silver dollars in the secondary market and become a
retailer through its subscription program to new customers, the RCM
stated in an e-mail:
“There are many factors involved in pricing this offer; including
the Mint acquiring and re-packaging the best available coins from the
secondary market, and marketing to new customers a ready-made,
carefully prepared collection of high-quality Canadian silver coins.” ■