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Canada 2017 Nocturnal by Nature: The Barn Owl Black Rhodium $20 Silver Coin

Canada 2017 Nocturnal by Nature: Barn Owl $20 Silver Coin with Black Rhodium Plating. Image courtesy Royal Canadian Mint


The 2017 Barn Owl $20 1oz .9999 fine Silver Coin is the first coin from the Royal Canadian Mint to feature a striking black rhodium plating. It combines the Mint’s penchant for innovative products, the high purity of its gold and silver coins, and its celebration of Canada’s abundant wildlife. It is also the first coin in a new series called Nocturnal by Nature. The matte proof finish and the rhodium plating allow for a dramatic interplay between each coin’s main animal motif and the background wilderness, as though the creature were lit by moonlight.


The hard, usually silver-colored metal known as rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals, and as such has properties similar to other members like platinum and palladium. It has been used as a decorative plating almost as far back as its discovery in the early 19th century, but demand for the metal increased dramatically in the 1970s with the advancement of catalytic converter technology. Rhodium does not readily react with the environment, and so it is more or less immune to oxidation and other corrosive events that can damage other coins.

Below is a video demonstrating the Mint’s rhodium-plating process for the 2017 Barn owl coin.


As is to be expected, the reverse features Susanna Blunt’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, facing right. The portrait is in matte proof, with the remainder of the side plated in rhodium. The inscription, which is in a darker shade of plating, 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 (looking like a lapel pin), slightly above the bust truncation.
Obverse, Canada 2017 Nocturnal by Nature: Barn Owl $20 Silver Coin with Black Rhodium Plating. Image courtesy Royal Canadian Mint

The reverse features an image of the barn owl (Tyto alba) as it swoops down upon its prey at night. Each aspect of the owl is richly detailed, from the three layers of feathering on its wings to the texture of the down on its breast and its talons and tail feathers. And for a design element rendered in the dark coloring of rhodium plating, a surprisingly detailed full moon sits behind the owl, providing the necessary perspective to give the viewer a sense of impending danger as the owl gets closer to its future dinner.

Inscriptions include CANADA along the top between the moon and the rim, and 20 DOLLARS * 2017 along the bottom. Artist and Mint product manager Jamie Desrochers is the designer.


The edge of the 2017 Nocturnal by Nature: Barn Owl Black Rhodium $20 Silver Coin is reeded or serrated.

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). Designer Jamie Desrochers is a manager in charge of numismatic products at the Royal Canadian Mint. He has supplied designs for over 40 coins from the Mint since joining the company in 2012, and frequently represents the Mint at shows and events. Desrochers is in charge of handling the Mint’s Warner Bros. contract, from which the Royal Canadian Mint licenses properties such as Bugs Bunny, Superman and Batman, among others.

Coin Specifications:

Country:  Canada
Year Of Issue:  2017
Denomination:  $20
Mint Mark:
Mintage:  7,000
Alloy:  .9999 Fine Silver
Weight:  31.39 grams
Diameter:  38.00 mm
Edge:  Serrated
OBV Designer  Susanna Blunt
REV Designer Jamie Desrochers
Quality:  Matte Proof

Keep up with all the latest coin releases from the world mints by clicking on CoinWeek’s World Coin Profiles Page.

CoinWeek IQ
CoinWeek IQ
With CoinWeek IQ, the editors and writers of CoinWeek dig deeper than the usual numismatic article. CoinWeek IQ provides collectors and numismatists with in-depth information, pedigree histories, and market analysis of U.S. coins and currency.

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