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Geography of coins

Numismatic coins

Coin collecting is an ancient pastime that gained popularity among the elite in the 14th-century Renaissance. This popularity continues today in Canada and around the world as collectors preserve coins as memorials, investments, pieces of storytelling art and talismans.

The Royal Canadian Mint supports this interest by designing commemorative coins that celebrate Canada’s culture, landscape and achievements.

There are many steps to converting a design theme into a collector coin.

First, a well-known Canadian artist or one of the Mint’s own designers creates a design that accurately depicts the subject and can be reproduced on metal blanks.

One of the Mint’s engravers then takes over, carefully “sculpting” the original design on a computer monitor using sophisticated ArtCAM software. The resulting three-dimensional coin design can be inspected in any direction in virtual space. It is then engraved directly onto a steel die using a robotic milling machine networked to the engraver’s desktop computer.

Elsewhere in the Ottawa facility, precious metal undergoes its own transformation. Gold and silver are melted into bars. The bars then pass through the rolling mill, where heavy rollers compress them into four-millimetre-thick gold coils and eight-millimetre-thick silver coils.

The coils are thinned to the desired gauge, then punched by smooth, circular blank dies to take the rough shape of the final coin. Because these discs have no design stamped on them yet, they are called blanks.

During the pre-striking stage, the blanks are given a raised rim to protect the relief details that will be stamped onto their surface by the die transfers. The blanks are washed and polished with stainless steel beads for up to six hours, then dipped into alcohol and hot water for about 15 minutes.

In the press room, the blanks are struck with the engraved dies, transferring the coins into legal tender.


On the next page:

Precious metals

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Quiz :

Precious metals that are minted into coins or cast into ingots are called what?