Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Minty, Not So Fresh

When I was a kid, I was always excited to get a "horse quarter", one of
the quarters issued in 1973 to commemorate the centennial of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, in my change. A lesser thrill, though a thrill
nonetheless, was when I would get one of a few other coins with
something other than their usual reverse, most
of which were issued at Canada's centennial in 1967, or one of the 12
sided nickels (1942-1963). Basically anything that stuck out from the
standard issue was of interest to me.

Since 1992, however, the Royal Canadian Mint seems to have gotten a bit
carried away. In that year, they issued a set of 12 circulation coins,
one for each province or territory, to commemorate Canada's
sesquicentennial, or 125 year anniversary. I did enjoy collecting these
coins, though it seemed a bit strange to me at the time to celebrate 125
years (less strange than, say, 137 years, mind you). Perhaps the board
of the Mint concluded that Canada would cease to be an independent
country in the face of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement or the then
upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement which superseded it, and
they thought that they should celebrate an anniversary while they could.
Who knows?

They were mostly inactive until the turn of the millennium when they
issued 24 quarters, one for each month of 1999 and 2000. I'm not sure if
striking a series of coins was what Prince had in mind when he said he
was gonna party like it's 1999. I guess fun is relative though. Some of
the designs I like. Others are corny, and a few are downright hideous in
my opinion. I managed to collect them all, though I did it mainly for
the sake of completeness, and not so much because I enjoyed the designs.
It did take me at least until late 2002, and probably as late as Winter
of 2003, before I ever saw the January 1999 coin, which was the last coin
I needed to complete the set. I got two of them not too far apart from
each other, and haven't seen one since.

Nothing special was produced in 2001, but from 2002 to 2006, there were 8
different commemorative quarters introduced (not to mention the various
special pennies, nickels, and dimes, loonies, and toonies).

About a month or so ago, I received in my change yet another variety of
quarter. On taking a closer look, I saw that coin was commemorating the
2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think this was the point where I
concluded that the Mint has become just a bit too obsessive in producing
commemorative coins (I had been on the verge of concluding this for at
least a year now). Up until this point, the coins they've issued have
celebrated anniversaries, like centennials, or else were related to
current events, like remembrance day. But this time, they've issued a
series of coins in recognition of something that's happening 3 years from
now, and really isn't all that special in comparison (recognizing those
who served and died in various wars, finding a cure for breast cancer,
vs. an amateur athletic competition). Now if a series of coins is to be
produced before the actual year of the event, then I suppose that this is
the year to do it. Last year was too soon after the 2006 Winter
Olympics. If they were introduced next year, they would interfere with
the 2008 Summer Olympics, and I'm sure that they've got something planned
for that too. 2009, only one year before, is not soon enough. So 2007
would be the year, if any, to issue the coins. But I just don't get why
they thought it necessary to introduce a series of coins in advance of
the games at all. I know that they're going to be in Canada this time,
but, as entertaining as they are and as cool as that is, they're not that
important in the grand scheme of things. Adding the small logo for the
Vancouver Olympics to the regular circulation coins is enough. Strike
the usual Olympic loony that gets issued during the games, and put out
the funky quarters at the same time as that.

I shouldn't be too hard on the Mint, though. I'm just as obsessive about
collecting the coins as they are about making them, and these will be no

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