Venetian glass is a kind of glass artwork produced by highly-skilled craftsmen in Venice, Italy, sought after the world over for its masterful color, clarity and complex designs.
Like much of the arts and crafts of medieval Italy, the development of Venetian glass was shaped by a strong Byzantine influence. When the Venetians sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (1204), skilled Byzantine glassworkers traveled to Venice and set up shop. Over the course of the following centuries, the Venetians refined these techniques and innovated new ones to become the finest purveyors of glass in the world.
In the late 13th century, the Venetians forced all glassmaking concerns out of the city center when the Republic destroyed the foundries to prevent the annihilation of the city by fire. Many firms then moved north to the island of Murano, where they continued to develop their craft. This is why the term “Murano glass” can be used interchangeably with “Venetian glass”, since Murano falls under the jurisdiction of Venice.
So what does this have to do with coins?
In 2016, the Royal Canadian Mint released the first of a new three-coin series, a .9999 fine silver coin with a face value of CA$20 that features a small snail made of Venetian glass resting on a Maple tree branch. The coin is actually the ninth Not-Intended-For-Circulation product manufactured by the Royal Canadian Mint to feature Murano glass.
Susanna Blunt’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The queen faces to the left, as is tradition. The inscription reads: ELIZABETH II D·G·REGINA (“Elizabeth II, Queen by the Grace of God”). Susanna Blunt’s initials “SB” are located on the Queen’s right collarbone, slightly above the bust truncation.
The reverse was designed by Canadian commercial artist Maurice Gervais; his initials are to the left of the central motif. The snail ventures along the branch of a mountain maple (Acer spicatum), and a large maple leaf–a famous symbol of Canada as found on the national flag and Canadian Maple Leaf gold and silver bullion coins–is positioned behind the caramel and whiskey-colored mollusk, providing a great sense of scale and perspective. The leaves and stems of the maple tree are painted (colored) in a realistic manner.
The snail itself is hand-blown and shaped by master craftsman Giuliano Donaggio of Murano, which means each piece is unique.
The coin’s denomination (20 DOLLARS) and issue date (2016) are located along the rim on the upper portion of the field. CANADA is inscribed along the bottom.
Designer(s): Susanna Blunt is a Canadian artist and designer. Her portrait of Queen Elizabeth has appeared on Canadian coinage since 2003 (View Designer’s Profile). Maurice Gervais is a Canadian artist who has worked on previous coins for the Royal Canadian Mint that incorporate Venetian glass.
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|.9999 Fine Silver
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