The Royal Canadian Mint is the latest world mint to issues a
10-kilogram gold coin, but in doing so, it has broken new ground by
making it finer than any other coin of the same size.
The RCM on Oct. 20 unveiled its first 10-kilogram gold coin, which
features artwork by the late Bill Reid, a Haida artist whose work
includes sculpture that is featured on the back of Canada’s current
$20 bank note in the Canadian Journey series (Coin World,
Oct. 24 and 31 issues).
Whether merely raising the bar or setting a trend, the RCM has
become the world’s first mint to strike a 10-kilogram coin from .99999
fine gold. It is also the world’s highest denominated 10-kilogram gold coin.
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii coin, which is an Ultra-High Relief
Proof, was unveiled at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in
Vancouver, British Columbia. The reverse of the coin displays Reid’s
sculpture, titled The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Black Canoe,
which was commissioned in 1985 for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Now-retired RCM Master Engraver Cosme Saffioti engraved the
design, capturing the powerful image of a Haida canoe full of
mythological creatures, real animals, and human male and female
passengers. Raven and Eagle, two principal Haida images, are
According to the RCM, “Inspired by the imposing scale of Bill
Reid’s masterpiece, [Saffioti] manually engraved a faithful
recreation, using traditional techniques, to an ultra-high relief
rarely achieved in the world of coin making.”
Reid’s design is “highlighted in a proof finish, contrasting the
sculpture’s image in a satin finish set against a brilliant,
mirror-like background,” according to the RCM.
The obverse of the coin carries the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen
A maximum mintage of 15 pieces is available on a “mint-to-order”
basis for a price determined by a combination of the gold market rate
at the time of purchase, plus a premium for its manufacturing and
limited mintage. Alex Reeves, the RCM’s senior manager of
communications, said that premium is 22 percent.
The coins, which measure 180 millimeters in diameter, are being
struck in Ottawa on the same 2,500-ton Sack & Kiesselbach press
used to strike the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games medals.
The new coin was unveiled by James B. Love, chair of the Royal
Canadian Mint Board of Directors, and Martine Reid, director of
Research and Content at the gallery. Director Reid said that those who
knew and worked with Reid would be delighted to know his design is on
a Canadian coin. “Of all the materials Bill Reid worked with to create
his imaginary bestiary, red cedar and gold were his favorite and he
particularly loved to work with 22-karat gold for its properties:
color, malleability, softness, warmth and luster,” Martine Reid said.
Bill Reid was a goldsmith-turned-sculptor, a wood carver and writer.
In 1985, Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson commissioned Reid to
produce a sculpture for the then-new Canadian Embassy in the District
of Columbia. The result was The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Black
Canoe, which is cast in bronze and represents Reid’s largest and
most complex sculpture. It stands almost 4 meters in height and weighs
A second casting, named The Jade Canoe, graces the
terminal of the Vancouver International Airport, while the original
plaster pattern of the monument is displayed at the Canadian Museum of
Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.
The Haida founded one of the First Nations of Canada and lived on
islands off the west coast of North America.
The $100,000 coin is the second-highest denomination coin ever
produced by the RCM. The only larger piece is the 100-kilogram .9999
fine gold bullion coin with a $1 million face value that was released
To learn more about the new 10-kilogram coin, visit a special page
at the RCM website, www.mint.ca/10kilo.
To order the coin directly from the RCM, telephone it at
800-267-1871 in Canada or at 800-268-6468 in the United States. ■