Royal Canadian Mint releases image of a crownless King Charles for all coins
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 14, 2023 2:53PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 14, 2023 6:19PM EST
WINNIPEG - Coin collectors across the country will soon be able to get their hands on a piece of history as the first Canadian coins bearing the image of King Charles go into production.
The Royal Canadian Mint revealed on Tuesday, the King's 75th birthday, the design that will be soon be on all new coins.
A large, black machine whirred and the clanking of coins could be heard as the image was struck onto a batch of loonies for the first time at the mint in Winnipeg. Starting slowly, then with more rapid succession, dozens of the gold-coloured coins began to fill a metal container.
The King's face on the coins replaces the image of his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The mint has featured the portrait of the reigning monarch on Canadian coins since opening its doors in 1908. For the first time in 70 years, the image will be of a king.
Ken Dobson, president of the Manitoba Coin Club, said he is looking forward to buying one of the early mintage coins.
“This is a huge day. It's a momentous day for coin enthusiasts,” he said in an interview.
“First strikes are always rarer coins. They're produced somewhat differently than general circulation coins. They may have more value and, depending on the mintage and how many are produced, the rarity will change (the) value as well.”
The design shows the profile of the left side of the King's face, with him wearing a shirt, tie and no crown.
Marie Lemay, president of the mint, said the Crown corporation wanted to go with a simple and modern effigy.
The mint contacted more than 350 artists and engravers it has worked with in the past to request submissions. A review committee picked a design from Canadian portrait artist Steven Rosati.
It was sent to Buckingham Palace for approval.
Rosati, who is from Montreal, has designed other coins for the mint, including six silver National Hockey League goalie coins and a 100th anniversary commemorative loonie in honour of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The feeling of his artwork reaching every Canadian started to sink in when he saw his design of King Charles on a coin for the first time Tuesday.
“This one is on a different level, because this one will be on all coins going forward,” said Rosati.
Daniel Guenther, co-chair of the Manitoba branch of the Monarchist League of Canada, was on hand to witness the first strike of the coin. He said he was impressed with the design.
“It's very humanizing. It's very natural â€¦ it feels a little more relaxed but still distinguished,” he said.
Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said in a statement the royal effigy on the country's coins is an important Canadian symbol.
“Steven Rosati's portrait is a fitting tribute, and Canada is proud to mark His Majesty's birthday with the striking of this first circulation coin,” she said.
Earlier this year, the federal government directed the mint and the Bank of Canada to replace the image of the queen with one of the King on coins and on the $20 bill.
A spokesperson for the Bank of Canada said it has started the design process for the new bill, but it will likely be years before it's issued.
“At this stage, it is far too early to be more precise about when the design of the note will be unveiled and when the note will begin to circulate,” said Rebecca Spence.
“The current $20 note will continue to circulate for years to come.”
Lemay said a small amount of 2023-dated coins with the King's likeness are to circulate in early December. Coin exchanges are set to take place later in the month at the mint's Ottawa and Winnipeg boutiques.
“At the beginning, it's going to be rare to see â€¦ eventually it's going to be part of the mix.”
No matter how long it takes for the coins to reach shelves or wallets, Dobson expects the excitement won't wear off soon.
“Canadians are just excited to have King Charles rattling in their pockets with their coinage,” he said.
- With files from Steve Lambert
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2023.