By Littleton Coin Company ………..
Spanning 3,987 miles (5,525 if you include Alaska) the U.S. – Canadian border is one of the longest in the world. In the early 1990s, I lived near it for a few years. My kids, who were young, called their babysitter’s parents mémé and pépé. Because we lived close to the border, occasionally on weekends we’d head north to Montreal. We’d go to an Expos game or visit the Biodome, and feast on Quebec’s signature dish, poutine.
But while the kids enjoyed the activities and food, they were positively enthralled by all of Canada’s coins.
They wondered aloud what kind of bird was on the “gold” one and how much it was worth. “It’s a loon,” I explained, “and that coin is a dollar, called a ‘Loonie.’”
And did I see the “gold” and “silver” one with a bear…? “That’s a polar bear, it’s found in the arctic, and that’s a $2 coin, called a ‘Toonie.’ Toonie combines two for $2 bill with ‘Loonie’ – it rhymes.”
For years, Canada’s innovative coinage has intrigued both old and young alike. Canada’s Loon dollars were introduced in 1987, and the bimetallic $2 Toonies (which replaced the $2 bill) followed about a decade later in 1996.
However, global enthusiasm for Canada’s coins had really begun a few years earlier, when the Royal Canadian Mint launched a new bullion series.
Maple Leaf Series Begins in 1982!
The landmark Maple Leaf series premiered in 1982 with a 99.99% gold coin released to compete with the gold Krugerrand. By 1985, Canada’s new series had captured 65% of the world market! A few years later, the first 1 oz. 99.99% silver Maple Leafs came along. Since then, the Royal Canadian Mint has released a number of 1 oz. silver coins featuring animals – the wolf especially was a hit with collectors.
Following up on the success of silver coins with animals, the mint began the popular 99.99% Silver Wildlife Series in 2011, releasing two designs per year. Each of the coins had a different reverse featuring: the wolf, grizzly, cougar, moose, pronghorn antelope and wood bison, which ended the series in 2013.
Lunar Coins – Collector Favorites!
The Chinese Lunar series, which kicked off in 1998 and now is in its second round, proved to be another favorite – after all, who doesn’t like owning a coin that gives them insight into their personality traits. Each animal in the 12-year lunar cycle was represented by a small privy mark on the reverse of the silver Maple Leaf.
A beautiful offshoot to that series is the Lunar Lotus 92.5% silver coin with unique scalloped edges. This series began in 2010, and now celebrates the Year of the Monkey with its 2016 release.
Most recently, the Royal Canadian Mint’s innovation has earned it a 2016 CoTY Award for the Best Crown Coin. The final issue in the 2014 colorized silver Maple Canopy series, called Autumn Allure, took top honors in that category.
Even though it’s been nearly 30 years since those days when I lived near Canada, those in northern New England are close enough that we often find Canadian coins (which are accepted at par at most places) in our change. With varying series and fresh designs, Canada’s coins offer lots of different ways to put a collection together. If you haven’t considered these coins, they’re definitely worth a look.
Littleton Coin Company is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of coins, paper money and collecting supplies. Since 1945, they have been making collecting fun and easy. For more information about the Littleton Coin Company or the Collector Stories Contest, visit www.littletoncoin.com
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