Royal Canadian Mint
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Established under the Royal Canadian Mint Act, the Royal Canadian Mint is a Crown corporation – i.e. the shares of the Mint are held for the reigning Canadian monarch. Interestingly, the Royal Canadian Mint started out as a branch of the Royal Mint in London.
It was founded in 1908, and since then it has produced all of Canada’s circulation coinage. In fact, its enormous minting capacity allows it to strike coins for other nations as well. The Royal Canadian Mint also mints precious and base metals coins for collectors and investors, medals, tokens, and medallions. Furthermore, it offers gold and silver refinery and assay services as well. Although the Mint serves the public’s interest, it also bears the mandate to ‘operate in anticipation of profit.’ Essentially, this means that it should be able to function commercially without relying on taxpayer support to fund its operations.
The Royal Canadian Mint is also known for being an excellent employer – featuring in the ‘Canada’s Top 100 Employers’ list four years in a row. Moreover, the Mint, recognized for adopting new technology and innovations, announced the plans for a digital currency named MintChip, allowing anonymous transactions – backed by the Government of Canada and having denominations in a variety of currencies.
Royal Canadian Mint History
Before the formation of the Royal Canadian Mint, the Royal Mint in London served as the primary producer of Canadian coinage. However, some Canadian coins’ origins can also be traced back to the private Heaton Mint in Birmingham, England.
Over the years as Canada’s need for coinage increased. This resulted in the authorization of a branch of the Royal Mint to be constructed in Ottawa in 1901. Although the construction of the Canadian branch was first proposed in 1890, it wasn't authorized in 1901 and inaugurated only later in 1908.
A short ceremony marked the inauguration of the very first Canadian Mint. Lord Grey and Lady Grey activated the presses – officially commencing operations in the Royal Mint’s Ottawa facility. Around three years after it was established, the Mint started refining gold using electrolysis. This method, unfortunately, proved too time-consuming. Hence, in 1915 when a new chlorination process developed in Australia seemed to reduce processing times and increase gold refining capacities, the Ottawa facility of the Royal Mint quickly adopted the technology.
Over the years, this technology was improved and refined – with the present process featuring an amalgam of chlorination and electrolysis.
The Ottawa Mint remained a branch of the Royal Mint in London until the Great Depression. Thereafter, the terms were negotiated, after which the Mint was officially named the Royal Canadian Mint. However, the Royal Canadian Mint still depended on the Royal Mint in London for the production of the master tools required for the creation of its punches and dies. Nonetheless, the Mint was under Canadian control at long last.
Facilities of the Royal Canadian Mint
The Ottawa Mint was the very first mint established in Canada. In fact, this facility was also the one renamed to bear the ‘Royal Canadian Mint’ name when its ownership was transferred to Canada. It initially began reporting to the Department of Finance. However, in 1969, the Royal Canadian Mint was reorganized as a Crown Corporation – making it independent from the Department of Finance. Under this reorganization, the mint would act as an independent corporation with its own board of directors.
Due to its rich history and architectural significance, the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The Tudor Gothic architecture of the original building still stands – granting it a distinctive identity – setting it apart from other buildings in Canada’s capital.
The Ottawa facility currently produces collector and commemorative coins, bullion coins, bars, wafers, and medals. The Royal Canadian Mint’s gold and silver refineries and assay labs are also located here. Furthermore, it also boasts a full-time Advanced Engineering Research team that tirelessly works on various R & D projects.
The Master of the Mint, in 1960, N.A. Parker intimated the government about the need for a new facility of the Royal Canadian Mint. Since the Ottawa facility’s capacity had been reached, the government recognized the need for an additional facility. Although the prime minister of Canada at the time, Lester B Peterson, suggested building the new facility in Elliot Lake, Ontario, no real plans materialized until much later.
Accordingly, when the Royal Canadian Mint became a Crown Corporation, a new facility was expected as several studies showed that the Ottawa facility had become obsolete. The Mint finally decided that the Ottawa facility would retain the historic building, while the newer branch would handle the striking of circulation coins in Canada.
The Supply and Services Minister at the time, James Richardson, first proposed a facility a Winnipeg. However, this proposal kicked up a substantial debate because the law stipulated that the Mint that was responsible for producing money in Canada should be established only in the capital region. The contention was that plants that were over 1000 miles apart would face numerous communication difficulties.
Eventually, Winnipeg was chosen as the site for the newest branch of the Royal Canadian Mint after the various technicalities were sorted out. The Winnipeg facility allowed the Ottawa branch to concentrate on designing and striking coins for collectors, while it handled the production of all circulation coinage for the country.
Royal Canadian Mint Notable Products
The Royal Canadian Mint has a rich and fulfilling history accompanied by an extensive range of quality gold bullion and silver bullion releases that always sends collectors and investors scrambling for a piece. Several coins originating from the Royal Canadian Mint are considered mainstays in coin collections and are valuable items to add to an investment portfolio.
In addition to coins in annual programs, the Royal Canadian Mint also produces commemorative products and precious metals bars.
Gold and Silver Maple Leafs
The Maple Leaf program is perhaps the most famous coin program run by the Royal Canadian Mint. The Maple Leaf program is only second in popularity to the US Mint's Eagle program. Ever since the first Gold Maple Leaf released in 1979 and the first Silver Maple Leaf Coin in 1988, they have captured the imagination of both collectors and investors. Their annual releases are anxiously awaited – not only on the North American continent, but also across the globe. These coins are available in 1 ounce, 1⁄2 ounce, 1⁄4 ounce, 1⁄10 ounce, and 1⁄20 ounce variants. Since they are struck using 0.9999 pure silver – the highest purity of silver used in any coin – investors looking to add substantial quantities of pure silver to their precious metals portfolios value them immensely.
Platinum and Palladium Maple Leafs
Building on the popularity of the Gold and Silver Maple Leafs, the Royal Canadian Mint produced coins using Palladium and Platinum as well.
The Palladium Maple Leafs were struck in 0.9995 fineness from 2005-2009. Platinum variants, on the other hand, were first minted in 1988. They were released in 1 ounce, 1⁄2 ounce, 1⁄4 ounce, 1⁄10 ounce, 1⁄15 ounce, and 1⁄20 ounce weights – ensuring that every kind of collector and investor could have his/her pick.
RCM Predator Series
Struck using 0.9999 pure silver, these silver coins celebrate the exotic wildlife exclusive to the Canadian wilderness. The year 2016 saw the release of the silver coins under this coin program and was appreciated by investors and collectors alike.
The very first coin featured the elusive Cougar – a stealthy predator that inspires awe and exudes elegance. Fangs bared, the Cougar is depicted mid-pounce, moving in to kill.
RCM Birds of Prey Series
The sight of a majestic Peregrine Falcon is a sight that inspires awe and wonder in the beholder. Celebrating similar predators of the sky, the Royal Canadian Mint launched the Birds of Prey series of silver coins in 2014.
This biannual series follows up on the Mint’s hugely popular wildlife-themed coin series. The 0.9999 silver purity makes every release an anticipated event among the collector and investor community.
RCM Call of the Wild Series
Canada’s wildlife is counted among the unique aspects of the country – boasting the fiercest of predators to the most elegant of animals in the world. Proudly showing off the nation’s abundant wildlife, the Royal Canadian Mint released the Call of the Wild Series of gold coins in 2014.
These gold coins are popular as both investment assets as well as collector’s items. Hence, this annual gold coin series enjoyed significant fame, with every annual release featuring beautiful depictions of Canadian wildlife.
RCM Silver Superman Coins
Superman requires no introduction to most people, with the man of steel being one of the most widely renowned superheroes of all time. Since he first appeared in comics in 1938, he became a global phenomenon. Honoring the most famous superhero in the world, the Royal Canadian Mint released the Silver Superman Coins in 2016 – highlighting the famed ‘S’ symbol on their reverses.
The ‘S’ symbol has become synonymous with valor and strength, and collectors and investors have shown remarkable interest in the coins released under this program. RCM Bars
Other than coins – which are much more popular amongst investors working with relatively lower capital, the Royal Canadian Mint also produces products that appeal to large-scale investors as well. It strikes precious metals bars, usually gold and silver, in weights upwards of 1 oz.
These products attract investors who want to make a larger investment, especially as bars generally feature lower premiums over the spot prices of gold and silver.
Royal Canadian Mint Innovations
The Royal Canadian Mint’s anti-counterfeit measures are known throughout the world due to their complexity that makes them almost impossible to replicate. The Canadian Maple Leaf Coins, for example, bear micro-engravings on the Maple Leaf designs. These engravings also impart a unique texture to the coin, in addition to ensuring its authenticity.
The Mint also patented an improved, money-saving production method called multi-ply plating technology in 2000. This technology is used to produce 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, and 50¢ Canadian coins even today.
2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics
In 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint partnered with the Vancouver Olympics Committee to become the official supporter of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Accordingly, the mint embarked on a 3-year quest of striking both circulation and collector coins honoring the upcoming Winter Olympic and Paralympic games.
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