A new series of circulating commemorative coins from Canada heralds
an innovation in coining capabilities.
Though Royal Canadian Mint officials are mum about the process
involved, three new 25-cent coins, which were announced Oct. 7 as part
of a larger program, expand the RCM’s offerings of colorful
The new eight-coin series, whose release into circulation is being
staggered to extend to April 2012, honors Canadian nature and
wildlife. Silver and gold collector versions will be announced in
November, according to the RCM.
The RCM will release in 2012 six 2011 25-cent coins (bearing three
designs, issued in two versions each), and it has already released a
2011 $1 coin and a 2011 $2 coin in the series. Three of the 25-cent
coins will feature a colorful application on their designs. The colors
themselves, and not the application of color, are noteworthy: the
green, yellow and blue that are added to the coins, one color per
design, are a significant shift from the red and pink hues applied on
earlier colorful circulating commemorative Canadian coins.
None of the colorful coins will enter circulation for months.
New circulation series
Leading the series, entering circulation Oct. 7, is a dollar
honoring the centennial of Parks Canada, which was already the subject
of the RCM’s annual silver dollar for 2011.
Originally called Dominion Parks Branch, Parks Canada conserves
Canada’s wilderness for Canadians to explore and enjoy.
The busy design features “stylized land, air and aquatic fauna,
varieties of flora, as well as a symbolic park building and the
silhouette of a hiker framed by a snow-capped mountain range,”
according to the RCM. Those images include a stylized sun, trees,
flowers, a beaver, two deer, water with fish and a bird in flight.
The dual-dates 1911-2011 and bilingual legend parks canada parcs
canada also appear.
The Parks Canada dollar has a mintage of 5 million coins.
The $2 coin, which celebrates Canada’s boreal forests, coincides
with the United Nations’ declaration of 2011 as the International Year
of the Forest.
The boreal forest (the world’s largest ecosystem) covers more than
half of Canada’s landmass. An artistic interpretation of the boreal
forest includes “coniferous and hardy deciduous trees adapted to long
winters and short growing seasons.” A lone figure of a human to the
left is joined by a bird in flight above the scene and the inscription
boreal forest and its French equivalent, forét boréale.
A mintage of 5 million $2 coins is set to enter circulation
sometime in November.
The 25-cent coins feature the stylized representations of the wood
bison, orca and peregrine falcon. Two versions of each coin will be
released, one unadorned and the other with added color. The colorful
versions of the Falcon coin will feature a yellow crescent, a blue
crescent will appear on the Whale coin and a green crescent on the
A total of 12.5 million each of the 25-cent coins are to be
issued, with mintage split equally between the colorful and standard versions.
Both versions of the Wood Bison coins are scheduled for a February
launch, with the Orca coins following in March and the Peregrine
Falcon coins wrapping up the series in April, meaning that all three
coins, though dated 2011, won’t enter circulation until 2012.
The obverse of the associated $1 and $2 coins carry the Susanna
Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, with the inscription elizabeth ii
d•g•regina, the date and the designers initials (the same legends and
inscriptions, except for the date, appear on the obverse of the
25-cent coins). All of the coins carry the denomination and nation
name on the reverse.
All of the Parks Canada coins are the standard alloy, size and
weight of the current circulating denominations, but little else is
standard, from the avant-garde designs to the expansion of the RCM’s
use of color on circulating coins.
However, the RCM has downplayed the aspect of color in press
releases prepared for the Oct. 7 unveiling.
The use of green, blue and yellow is a stark contrast to the red
or pink used previously for seven colorful circulating 25-cent
Canadian coins and an additional colorful circulating Papua New Guinea
coin struck by the RCM.
Earlier colorful coins
All of the colorful Canadian circulating commemoratives,
incidentally, have been denominated 25 cents.
In 2004 the RCM became the first (and only, apparently so far)
national mint in the world to issue a colorful circulating coin.
Though color has been applied to coins for years, those coins have
been collector-oriented and sold at significant premiums over their
The 2004 coin Remembrance Day 25-cent coin features a red poppy;
soon after it was launched some media in Canada noted the relative
ease at rubbing the color off, but by the time the RCM in 2006 honored
breast cancer awareness with a pink ribbon against a white background,
RCM officials said a new process had solved the riddle. Subsequently,
no such reports have plagued the issuance of the colorful coins in
2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010, all bearing red.
The 2008 coin also sports a red poppy, while the 2010 coin raised
the bar with two red poppies. In 2009, the RCM issued colorful
examples of three “Olympic Moments” 25-cent coins, which were
simultaneously issued with much larger quantities of standard (or
“plain”) versions lacking color. The RCM in 2008 also extended use of
color for circulating coins to a 50-toea coin of Papua New Guinea.
Alexandre Reeves, senior manager of communications for the RCM,
has not responded to Coin World’s questions about how the colors on
the coins to be released in 2012 stand up to circulation wear compared
to the earlier issues, how long the process to develop the additional
colors took, and any lessons learned during research and development.
The multi-ply plated steel 25-cent coins weigh 4.4 grams and
measure 23.88 millimeters in diameter.
The nickel-bronze aureate $1 coin weighs 7 grams and measures 26.5
millimeters in diameter. The ringed-bimetallic $2 coin has a nickel
ring and copper-aluminum-nickel core; the coin weighs 7.3 grams and
measures 28 millimeters in diameter. Reeves confirmed that the $1 and
$2 coins are being struck from their current alloys; new compositions
under review for $1 and $2 coins, expected to be implemented early in
2012, have not received final approval.
The RCM did not identify a designer for the reverses in this new
series, and no initials are visible on the design images released by
The RCM unveiled the series at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
in Gatineau, Quebec, which was followed by a coin exchange where
examples of the $1 coin were available at face value. Additional,
similar exchanges were scheduled Oct. 7 and 8 at the RCM’s boutiques
in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
Coin World will continue to report on the series as news