Canada launches a neat new Polar Bear silver coin with an unusual edge finish
We used to cover every coin every month that emanated from the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), but the sheer numbers and similar designs led to us scaling back a little. The RCM does have a penchant for experimentation, some of which miss the mark, but with plenty that hit the target bang on. The coin we’re looking at here is definitely in the latter category.
The technique being introduced here is relatively subtle and shouldn’t annoy the more traditional coin collector in any way. Eschewing such common techniques as colour and gilding, both of which are hardly rare at the RCM, this is a clean-struck depiction of a Polar Bear adult and cub swimming in icy waters. It’s an attractive enough design by Tony Bianco, an RCM regular who has produced some superb numismatics over the last few years (Magnificent Bald Eagles being a prime example). The edge of the coin is what makes this issue different.
We’ve already seen unbound edges like those on the Monnaie de Paris Clovis to Republic series, which are simply coins struck with a die that doesn’t constrain the rim, and we also see truly dimensional shaped coins like many of CIT’s recent output, but what the RCM have done here is keep the coin with a fundamentally circular shape, but made the edge part of the design rather than geometrically perfect. It’s a subtle effect, but really does suit the subject and compements the design perfectly.
The obverse has the Susanna Blunt effigy of QEII at its centre, but the mint has at least carried elements of the reverse design over to the obverse and done a fine job of it. All told, this is a good-looking coin. At five-ounces of fine silver, it’s a premium proof coin and expands out to almost 70 mm. This leads us to one of our few gripes. At $580 CAD, this is obviously a higher-end release, and along with the large diameter and design effort put into the obverse, we’re disappointed to see a bog-standard maroon snapper case for packaging. This one cries out for a latex floating frame, or even the NZ Mint-style acrylic block, but the box chosen seems under-whelming. Outside of that, we love this one. Available to order now with a mintage of 1,200 pieces.
Loving and strong, dedicated and ferocious, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) has long been the most enduring symbol of the Arctic wilderness, where the sea ice that divides water and air is the cornerstone of life in the True North. And while the Arctic Ocean has a chilly reputation, there’s a sense of warmth in this familial tableau. Engraved in 5 oz. of 99.99% pure silver, a mother polar bear and her cub enjoy a special moment as they surface in the cold water, their closeness reflected in the way they are positioned. But beyond the finely detailed, heart-melting scene, the icy water itself might be the scene-stealer; the engraved rim technology adds a sense of motion throughout the reverse and the obverse, where the ebb and flow of the waves push the ice fragments to the very edge in order to give the coin its uniquely “glacial” shape.
REVERSE: Designed by Tony Bianco, your coin travels to the True North for a glimpse of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) at play. The engraved scene is a touching portrait of a mother and cub swimming in the cold waters of the Canadian Arctic, their closeness reflected in the way they are positioned as they emerge from the icy depths. Textural engraving adds a sense of movement across the surface of the water, where the ebb and flow generated by the swimmers’ movements pushes the floating ice right to the coin’s edge. The theme continues onto the fully engraved edge, which mimics the look of jagged ice and gives the coin its unique shape.
OBVERSE: The similarly engraved obverse features wave-driven ice shapes that form a frame around the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
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