Canada honors 'The Great One' on commemoratives
- Published: Oct 3, 2011, 8 PM
A famous athlete-turned-coin collector will have a chance to add very personal items to his collection: Hockey Hall of Fame player Wayne Gretzky, nicknamed “The Great One,” is the subject of three new noncirculating legal tender coins from Canada.
The RCM announced the coins Oct. 4. The coins will become available Oct. 11.
Gretzky made numismatic headlines in 1990 for his purchase of a set of 1873 Trade silver dollars at auction. Whether he retains those coins is unclear, as is the scope of his collection; nevertheless, three coins will now honor Gretzky in 2011, the year he turned 50 years old.
An oversized and colorized 25-cent coin joins a Proof silver $25 coin and a Proof gold $5 coin commemorating the famous Canadian; the latter two coins also honor his father Walter, a semi-professional player whose contributions to the younger Gretzky’s career famously include building an ice rink in the family backyard so a then-6-year-old Wayne Gretzky could practice the sport he still loves.
A gold-plated, copper-plated steel coin depicts the younger Gretzky “in the blue and orange colours of the team he led to four Stanley Cup victories in only five years,” an oblique reference to the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky’s first team in the National Hockey League.
A close-up image of Gretzky dominates the reverse design, created by sports artist Glen Green, whose work includes a watercolor of Gretzky called A Portrait of Greatness that offers similar imagery of Gretzky.
All of the coins feature the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.
The oversized 25-cent coin measures 35 millimeters in diameter, compared to the 23.88-millimeter size of a standard circulating 25-cent coin. The oversized coins weigh 11.6 grams; the standard 25-cent coin, 4.4 grams. The Gretzy 25-cent coin has an unlimited mintage and costs $34.99.
The RCM’s tribute to the father-son duo of Wayne and Walter Gretzky is evident on the two Proof coins, which each carry a cameo of the elder Gretzky on the reverse design, also by Green. The Proof .9999 fine silver $25 coin also features a hologram bearing Wayne Gretzky’s famous “99” jersey number.
The coin weighs 31.39 grams, measures 38 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 19,999 pieces. It costs $99.99.
The third Gretzky collector coin, a Proof .9167 fine (22-karat) gold $200 coin, features a laser engraving of Gretzky’s jersey number on the reverse design.
The coin weighs 16 grams, measures 29 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limited to 999 pieces. It costs $1,299.99.
An unspecified portion of the sales of each coin will be donated to the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, whose mission is to provide less fortunate youth with the opportunity to experience the sport of hockey.
Prices are listed in Canadian funds.
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, at www.talismancoins.com, telephone the company at 888-552-2646, or fax the business at 314-968-3801. ¦
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