World Coins

Canada issues coins with designs that might have been

When Canada considered new coin designs for 1937, the Royal Canadian Mint turned to designer Emanuel Hahn for options. 

During his life, Hahn (1881 to 1957) was the artistic force behind two silver dollars, as well as the Bluenose and Caribou designs that still grace Canadian circulation coins today. 

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Besides the Bluenose (10-cent coin) and Caribou (25-cent piece) designs that were adopted, Hahn submitted several other design proposals. Now three of those designs have been realized as actual coins. 

Struck in a Reverse Proof finish, this set of Hahn’s wildlife “coins that never were” is the Royal Canadian Mint’s way of “faithfully carrying out the sculptor’s vision, by interpreting his pencil sketches as though they had been entrusted to us today,” according to the RCM. “To remain true to the artist’s vision, the Royal Canadian Mint’s engravers pored over every fine detail contained in one of the few resources still available today: Hahn’s sketches, which are a part of the National Currency Collection.”

The 5-cent coin’s reverse has a remarkable tie to the present: it is Hahn’s original Caribou design, the precursor to the one now synonymous with Canada’s 25-cent circulation coin. 

Viewed in side profile, the ungulate moves beneath the night sky, where the Big Dipper is clearly visible. The caribou’s antlers reach into the legend, where the word CANADA is engraved alongside the year 2018; beneath the flat landscape, an oversized 5 winds its way through the word CENTS.

A Hahn 25-cent coin design features a polar bear standing on an ice floe, its head turned toward the right side of the coin, while the open sea is visible behind the mound. 

A stylistic representation of the Aurora Borealis hangs over the low horizon and stretches across the northern sky, only yielding to the Big Dipper asterism that is a common element on all three coins. The word CANADA is engraved at the top while the face value 25 CENTS and the updated year 2018 are engraved over the ice.

The diamond-like stars are more prominent in a second 25-cent coin design, which centers on a goose in flight. The side-profile view allows for the inclusion of several details, including the flight feathers along the outstretched wings. Here again, the Big Dipper adds a point of interest to the field, where the face value 25 CENTS, the year 2018 and the word CANADA are also engraved in the starry sky.

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The obverse of each coin features the effigy of King George VI by Thomas Humphrey Paget.

The .9999 fine silver coins each weigh 31.39 grams and measure 38 millimeters in diameter. 

The coins are offered only in a three-coin set, with a mintage limit of 5,500 sets. Sets are packaged in a plush red case with certificate of authenticity. 

The set retails for $269.95 Canadian. When buying from the RCM, the price in U.S. dollars will be fixed at the time of purchase. 

To order, or learn more, visit the RCM website

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