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Royal Canadian Mint's First Dome-Shaped Coin

Royal Canadian Mint's First Dome-Shaped Coin
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Posted: 02-04-2016 12:28:00 PM

The Royal Canadian Mint has produced a dome-shaped coin; the first one ever produced by the esteemed Mint! It features an excellent design of the interior of the library of Parliament, that has excellent spacial perception that allows an accurate viewing of the building ceiling! With a limited mintage of only 6,000 coins, this issue will be hard to find!

Canadian first domed coin banner.

Canadian first domed coin banner reverse facing up.

Popularity of domed coins

One of the defining features of modern world collector coins is that they continue to push the envelope of coin design and production by using non-traditional methods.  That can be anything from gilding or colorization to inserts of various kinds of materials such as crystals, but the most revolutionary approach is to issue coins in alternative shapes. Various world mints have issued coins in the shape of cylinders, cubes, squares, globes, etc., but none of these has been nearly as successful as coins that are dome or cup-shaped.

This started in 2009 when the Paris Mint in France issued silver and gold dome-shaped coins for the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Since then quite a few coins of this shape have been issued by mints around the world, and these coins continue to be very popular with collectors.  Significant examples include the Royal Australian Mint’s Southern Sky series of domed and colored coins from 2012-2014, and the new successor series on the Northern Sky, and the U.S. Mint’s very popular 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coins.  The clad half dollar from that series is this week receiving the award for the best coin of the year at the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany!

In part, the appeal of these coins lies in the novelty of the approach and the distinctiveness of the shape since there are still relatively few coins of this type.  But the more significant reason collectors love these coins is because the concave -- or concave/convex depending on whether the coin is curved on one side or both – shape is such a perfect way to represent certain themes and subjects.  These coins are especially well-suited to coins that have astronomy, meteorites, volcanoes, and sports-related themes. 

Another reason dome-shaped coins are so great is that the shape can be used to provide a unique spatial perspective such as the Cook Islands Mosaic series that shows the mosaic interiors of churches around the world. 

Canada’s first dome-shaped coinCanadian first domed coin banner reverse facing.

The Royal Canadian Mint has used this alternative spatial approach with the release of their new silver proof coin honoring the 140th anniversary of the Library of Parliament, the Canadian equivalent of the Library of Congress, which is one the country’s most iconic buildings.  Like the Library of Congress in the U.S., the Library of Parliament provides authoritative research and customized information to members of the Canadian Parliament to assist them in their official duties.  

This stunning concave coin, the first issued by the renowned Canadian Mint that has been a key leader in the push for innovative coins, allows one to feel as if they are inside the main reading room of the library looking up at the domed ceiling while standing at the base of the marble statue of Queen Victoria. 

This 360-degree view captures in amazing detail the intricate details of the room such as the elaborate woodwork of the many pine bookshelves that line that perimeter of the room and the fantastic neo-gothic cupula’s ceiling in its all its artistic and architectural glory.  The coin and its unique perspective really capture the soaring height and the majesty and grandeur of the library’s interior.

Moreover, the Library, which was built in 1876, was the first building in North America to feature an iron structure using these design elements. There have been several fires over the years that destroyed many of the books and parts of the original building, and the room depicted on the coin is the only surviving part of the original library structure due to a fire in 1916.

The coin was unveiled on January 28 at a special event held at the Library of Parliament and was covered by the media in Canada.

This terrific coin has other great features too.  First, it was struck with a greater degree of curvature than any other domed coin out there.  In addition, it is in amazing ultra-high relief to bring out all the details of the design with great depth, and it also uses an antique silver finish, which goes perfectly with a coin about a historic building.  There are also only 6,000 of these coins, they carry a $25 face value, and like most RCM numismatic issues are made of .9999 fine silver.

Collector reactions to the RCM first

Early reaction to this new RCM coin from collectors has been extremely positive with numerous comments in the numismatic blogosphere having been posted in the past week about what a great design and concept it is.  The coin is already 82% sold-out at the Mint!

Because the dome shaped is so popular with collectors, many of them are putting together collections of the most important world coins struck in this shape.  Thomas Uram, who is a member of the U.S. Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission and President of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, has a collection of these coins which he has exhibited at several major coin shows in the past two years, including the 2014 American Numismatic Association’s World Fair of Money. Last year he won several awards for his exhibits.

The RCM’s new coin is a must-have, especially for those who love concave-shaped coins as well as those who are interested in Canadian history and those who enjoy coins about art and architecture.  As the first coin of this type from the mint, and one that uses the Mint’s cutting-edge techniques to produce a fine design struck with intricate detail to provide a unique spatial perception of Library of Parliament, this is without a doubt one of the best releases of 2016 that will be cherished by world coin collectors for years.  

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About The Author

Louis Golino Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.

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