Canada is the latest nation to offer colorful collector coins
struck from the space-age metal niobium.
Niobium is a rare soft, gray metal that is found in ore and that
has also been known as columbium.
The RCM on June 16 issued the first in a four-coin series of Proof
.925 fine silver $5 coins featuring a niobium insert. The four coins
present the full moon in different seasons as noted in native First
Peoples culture, and are colored gold, brown, blue or purple.
With special treatment, the surface layers of niobium can be made
to change color, depending on the temperature to which the metal is heated.
The Austrian Mint has been the most prolific user of niobium in
coins since issuing the first coin in the world containing the metal
in 2003. In addition to an annual issue for Austria, the Austrian Mint
has struck coins containing niobium for Latvia and Luxembourg. A few
private mints have also used the element to make coins.
The RCM independently developed its own process to create the
selective oxidation and achieve a ringed bimetallic core, according to
Alexandre Reeves, senior manager of communications at the RCM. “We’re
in a competitive business and can’t give away all our secrets, so I
can provide only some detail.”
The niobium insert was struck into the core of a .925 silver coin
and then selectively colored using an electrical current, Reeves said.
“There was no impact on the silver parts of the coin due to our
proprietary selective oxidization process,” he said.
The series of coins depicts the full moons of the Algonquin
people, beginning with the Full Buck Moon and followed by the Full
Hunter’s Moon, the Full Wolf Moon and the Full Pink Moon, in designs
by John Mantha.
The colors reflect the theme of the coin, showing gold, brown,
blue and purple, respectively.
According to the RCM, cultures around the world have recognized
the moon as the guardian of nature’s cycles throughout history, the
phases marking the passage of time and the rhythms of life.
“In North America, the First Nations tribes that comprise the
Algonquin people utilized the lunar cycle as a celestial calendar to
track time. They assigned a name to every full moon to reflect the
seasonal activities that accompanied its specific cycle,” according to
The Algonquin people lived across a vast territory from Lake
Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, and they generated a variety of names
for each full moon.
The full moon for July is known as Thunder Moon or Summer Moon,
but its most common name is Buck Moon to reflect the fact that bucks
in the North American wilderness are beginning to grow new antlers,
according to the RCM. The coin shows a buck with new antlers standing
before a full moon.
The other coins depict a hunter patiently tracking his quarry
(Hunter’s Moon), a howling wolf set against a backdrop of a full
winter moon (the Full Wolf Moon) and a cluster of phlox blossoming
before a spring moon (the Full Pink Moon).
The Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II appears on the obverse
The coins weigh 8.5 grams, including 1.4 grams of niobium, and
measure 28 millimeters in diameter.
Each coin has a mintage limit of 7,500 pieces, regardless of
The Full Buck Moon coin is now available individually for $121.95
Canadian or as part of a subscription set that will be shipped, once
all four coins are released, by August. In either option, the coin
will be presented in a wooden flip case.
Set subscribers will pay the same price for the final three coins
in the series as for the first coin. Reeves said the RCM does not
anticipate changing the price for individual sales of the subsequent issues.
Sales of the available coin are limited to three coins per
household, whether purchased individually or by subscription for sets.
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.
Write to Jenner at P.O. Box 2466-a, Pasco, WA 99302 or telephone
him at (509) 735-2172.
Visit Talisman at its website, found at www.talismancoins.com, or
telephone the company at (888) 552-2646 or fax the business at (314)