Canada issues a gorgeous Cougar design for its fourth Rhodium-plated Nocturnal by Nature coin

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.


Canada’s largest wild cat is a model of patience, stealth, and agility in the wild, where it adroitly climbs, skulks, and pounces on its prey. Black-as-night rhodium plating sets the tone on this fourth Nocturnal by Nature coin, where the cunning cougar would likely go unnoticed, were it not for the polished shine of the silvery moon.

The cougar goes by several names: English settlers in the east once referred to it as a panther; Americans refer to it as a mountain lion; and in Latin America, it is known as the puma. It is a strong swimmer and climber that can jump more than six metres high. Sharp claws help the cougar climb, but also give it a strong biting grip. Unlike the wolf, the cougar isn’t built to outrun its prey; instead, the cougar will closely and quietly follow its target until the hunter can pounce, quickly driving its canine teeth into the back of the neck or biting the throat for a quick kill.

REVERSE: Designed by Tony Bianco, the coin steps into the Canadian wilderness on a moonlit night, where the viewer gets a rare glimpse of a secretive nocturnal hunter. Rhodium plating stands in for the dark night and fills most of the field, except for the full moon engraved at the centre. The polished shine of the coin’s silver surface mimics the effect of moonlight spilling across the nocturnal setting, revealing the shadowy figure of a cougar (Puma concolor). The side profile view highlights the spectacular agility of this muscular wild cat, whose large paws and sharp claws allow it to move nimbly along the twisted tree limb. Also engraved on the reverse are the words “CANADA”, the face value “20 DOLLARS” and the year “2018”.

OBVERSE: The selectively rhodium-plated obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver
WEIGHT 31.39 grams
FINISH Matte proof
MODIFICATIONS Rhodium plating
BOX / COA Yes / Yes