Canada’s most celebrated individual hockey player appears on coins

Wayne Gretzky, 'the Great One,' on three 2011 coins
By , Coin World
Published : 10/24/15
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Coin World continues a feature by Senior Editor Jeff Starck about Canadian coins celebrating hockey. This is the third part of the story, which first appeared in the November Coin World issue.

Canada’s most celebrated individual hockey player also appears on coins.

Wayne Gretzky, nicknamed “The Great One,” established multiple records during his 20-year NHL career. 

When he retired in 1999, the waiting period was waived and he was immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame. Gretzky’s jersey No. 99 also was retired league-wide, making him the only player so honored. 

In 2011, when Gretzky marked his 50th birthday, the RCM celebrated his career with three noncirculating legal tender coins. 

The athlete-turned-coin-collector made numismatic headlines in 1990 for his purchase of a set of 1873 Trade dollars at auction, though it is unclear whether he retains those coins (or to what extent his collection continues). 

It’s probably a safe bet that his collection contains an example of each of the 2011 Canadian coins. The RCM issued a colorized 25-cent coin, a Proof silver $25 coin and a Proof gold $200 coin commemorating him; the latter two coins also honor his father, Walter, a semi-professional player whose contributions to the younger Gretzky’s career were instrumental to his success. 

The gold- and copper-plated steel 25-cent coin’s reverse design depicts the younger Gretzky “in the blue and orange colours of the team he led to four Stanley Cup victories in only five years,” according to the RCM, an oblique reference to the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky’s first team in the National Hockey League. 

The close-up image of Gretzky dominates the coin’s reverse design, created by sports artist Glen Green, whose work includes a watercolor of Gretzky called A Portrait of Greatness with similar imagery of Gretzky. 

The Gretzky 25-cent coin is now worth about $40 U.S., slightly above its issue price.

The RCM’s tribute to the father-son duo of Walter and Wayne Gretzky is evident on the two 2011 Proof coins, each with a cameo of the elder Gretzky near the image of player Gretzky on the reverse. 

The Proof .9999 fine silver $25 coin also includes a hologram of Wayne Gretzky’s famous “99” jersey number. The coin retails for about the same as its $99.99 issue price. 

The Proof 2011 .9167 fine gold $200 coin includes a laser engraving of Gretzky’s jersey number in the reverse design. The coin retails for just above its $1,299.99 issue price. 

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