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Numismatic news: Loonie turns 30, Rio Tinto unveils precious metal/diamond coins

by Greg Klein | June 8, 2017

Its size and weight wore out pockets, its value raised panhandlers’ expectations and its name puzzled foreign visitors. But following its appearance 30 years ago this month, the loonie “found its way into our hearts,” the Royal Canadian Mint maintains. To celebrate this anniversary, the Mint released a limited edition set of two silver dollars. One depicts the loon, the other shows the originally intended canoe, a design that graced Canadian silver dollars from 1935 to 1986. The two $1 coins will cost collectors $79.95.

Numismatic news: Loonie turns 30, Rio Tinto unveils precious metals/diamond coins

The originally intended design for Canada’s dollar coin
distinguishes one of the anniversary set’s two silver pieces.
(Photo: Royal Canadian Mint)

The original voyageur design’s fate comprises a minor legend of numismatic history and bureaucratic bungling. The dies disappeared in November 1986 en route from Ottawa to Winnipeg, where they were supposed to generate an initial 450 million coins. But the Mint did save nearly $80 by using regular courier instead of an armoured courier.

According to media reports at the time, federal officials covered up the suspicious loss and made excuses for the new coin’s delayed appearance. Finally, to foil counterfeiters, the Mint replaced the canoe with an uninspiring Plan B.

The missing dies never did turn up, Mint spokesperson Alex Reeves informs ResourceClips.com.

With no embarrassment in calling the loonie one of Canada’s “most recognizable symbols,” Mint president/CEO Sandra Hanington said it’s “also known around the world as an innovative trailblazer for its composition and cutting-edge security features.”

Additionally the loonie “changed stripping forever,” according to the National Post. Those who’ve experienced pre-1987 peelers’ bars might agree. But the NP writer’s expertise sounds less certain when he claims the loonie amounts to a hidden tax because “banknotes get spent almost immediately, whereas coins get stashed into jars and piggy banks.”

Australian icons got more majestic treatment when Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO teamed up with the Perth Mint to produce three magnificent coins celebrating that country’s unique fauna and rich resources. Although declared legal tender, they’re not likely to see circulation. Weighing a kilo each, respectively made of gold, platinum and rose gold (an alloy used in jewelry) and set with coloured diamonds from Rio’s Argyle mine, the three-coin Australian Trilogy comes with a price tag of AU$1.8 million.

Just one set has been struck.

Argyle, by the way, “produces virtually the world’s entire supply of rare pink diamonds, and yet less than 0.1% of the diamonds produced by the Argyle mine are pink,” Rio stated.

Numismatic news: Loonie turns 30, Rio Tinto unveils precious metals/diamond coins

Gold, platinum and rose gold combine with pink, violet and
purple-pink diamonds in this one-of-a-kind set. (Photo: Perth Mint)

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