By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for Coinweek …….
The 2016 Canadian $200 Roaring Grizzly Bear Proof coin is making headlines for a recently discovered error variety. The error coin features remnants of a micro-engraved Canadian Maple Leaf security mark, ordinarily found only on the bullion version of the Royal Canadian Mint’s Roaring Grizzly Bear gold coin.
The remnant maple leaf mark was discovered by coin dealers in February on the reverse of the proof coin, just below the head of Pierre Leduc’s grizzly bear design.
“Simple human error led to a bullion punch being selected to produce a final die for the striking of 56 numismatic coins,” says Alex Reeves, senior manager of communications at the Royal Canadian Mint.
At the end of the production run, one coin was retained by the RCM, leaving 55 Roaring Grizzly Bear Remnant Maple Leaf error coins for public distribution.
“We are reviewing our internal process to prevent a recurrence,” adds Reeves.
Though there is no public information on how many die pairs were used, it appears that at least two die pairs were employed – one with the normal proof design and the other with the remnant maple leaf.
The Canadian Maple Leaf error is remarkably blatant in an era of hyper-modernized, precise coin minting. The RCM uses ArtCAM computer-assisted design software, which – while being state-of-the-art equipment, can still produce design errors if operated incorrectly. According to John Winklemann, owner of Talisman Coins in St. Louis, Missouri, the error could have happened in a similar fashion to inadvertently attaching or deleting a layer in a program such as Adobe Photoshop.
“Computer software may indeed become a new source for the creation of variety errors,” he says of the coin design process, which is increasingly reliant on digital technology.
“Certainly, coins aren’t designed like they were in the Morgan dollar era,” he remarks. “It’s not like missing edge lettering on the Presidential dollars or an added leaf on a corn stalk like on the Wisconsin state quarter. This [error] is significant because of the size of the error and it’s a design element on an area of the coin where there should be none.”
He adds, “you don’t need a magnifying glass to see the maple leaf.”
While the remnant maple leaf may be a significant feature, does that mean the 2016 Grizzly Bear error coin will be worth much more than its “normal” counterparts?
“There are only 55 [of the errors] in the world, so that’s an extremely small number – but that doesn’t mean there are a lot of people who will spend money on buying the coin,” Winklemann says.
The Grizzly Bear Proof coin had an original issue price of CA$2,799.95 (US$2,099.96 at time of writing) and currently has an average price of US$2,600 in the secondary market. Therefore, Winklemann thinks, the number of people who are actively vying for either the regular proof Grizzly Bear coin or the version with the remnant maple leaf is already slim, though he believes speculating on the potential value of this error is mainly a matter of guesswork.
“There’s no significant premium on the error right now,” he reports based upon the market activity he’s seen to date. “There’s no differential price record at this point because there still isn’t much coverage on this piece. Plus, why would anybody necessarily prefer the error over the ‘regular’ version with the intended design features? Probably not a lot of people are saying to themselves ‘I need two versions of this coin – one with the error and one without.’”
It should be noted that the Proof Grizzly Bear $200 gold coin, revealed at the World Fair of Money show in Berlin, Germany on February 5 is already sold out, according to the RCM’s website. Still, Winklemann wonders how big the market could be for the Grizzly Bear coin, given its high price point and tiny mintage.
“There were only 250 pieces made in total, so the number of people who can buy this coin is pretty small,” Winklemann relates. “On top of that, if you have roughly $2,500, would you want to buy the error or buy other types of coins with that amount of money?”