Plating with rhodium or ruthenium isn’t new and there have been several coins issued over the last couple of years that employ it. Many of those, however, have been aftermarket applications to the numerous bullion coins that are available today, most prominently the Golden Enigma series from AllCollect. Imparting a black(ish) finish, the plating can actually look pretty cool and has been garnering wider acceptance, and why not? – it’s just gilding with a different metal.
The Royal Canadian Mint only used rhodium for the first time last year when they debuted their Nocturnal by Nature series. Depicting an owl, it eschewed any other form of adornment except for the plating, which was applied everywhere except for the owl itself. It was a decent looking coin and was followed up later in 2017 with a bat design. The series returned in 2018 with a fine Howling Wolf and now we’re seeing the second of this years pair – Cunning Cougar. The original owl design differed from the following trio in that the subject itself was free of plating instead of the background moon. Arguably, it’s the weakest of the four to date because of that, although you may think differently of course. You can see the earlier issues further down.
I think most would agree that this latest cougar coin is easily the best to date. It’s a quite beautiful piece of work and one of the best representations of a big cat we’ve seen on a coin. The pose is one we haven’t seen before and the contrast imparted by the unplated moon works perfectly. Tony Bianco has done an outstanding job with this one and it makes us want the series to continue in 2019. The obverse is the usual dull effigy of QEII, but at least it’s also plated for a change.
Packaging is also a little dull, just the standard maroon snapper box in a coloured shipper, along with a certificate of authenticity. It’s available to order now with a mintage of 7,000 units and a price of $119.95 CAD. An outstanding issue, and we wish the RCM would spend more time on classic designs like this, instead of the increasing flow of gimmickry that is rapidly becoming their signature. It obviously works for them, but we’d much rather see coins of the calibre of this cougar, than those with bits of glass or carousels stuck to them.