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Newsletter #30, May 18, 2002

Mint Releases New Fifty Cent Pieces...

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The merry, merry month of May saw a rash of new release fifty cent pieces from the Royal Canadian Mint. A quick sellout was a noncirculating legal tender Golden Tulip sterling silver boxed Proof fifity cents, issued in a limited mintage of 20,000 pieces to mark the Ottawa Tulip Festival's Golden Jubilee.

The design side of the coin features a pair of gold cameo tulips and a stylized 2002 date. The head side is topped by Canada in large letters, with the 50 Cents nominal denomination at left, the de Pedery Hunt portrait of the Queen in the center, and Elizabeth II, along the bottom. The initial date of 1952 does not appear on this coin. We have a few in stock at Cdn $59.95, plus tax and shipping.

The main event in Mint May releases is the Queen Elizabeth the Second Golden Jubilee nickel fifty cents. It is the first made for circulation commemorative fifty cent piece since Canada's centennial series in 1967. The fifty cent piece barely circulates normally, but this coin is being distributed by the Post Office, some banks, the Bay, and coin dealers. I hope it generates new interest in collecting half dollars in particular, and coins in general.

It is odd that the Mint seems to have put more effort into the Tulip Jubilee coin than the Queen's Jubilee issue. It is a missed opportunity not to incorporate gold into the Queen's 50 year reign commemorative. Perhaps the Mint will still make a cameo collector version. An aureate version might have been appropriate for circulation. Clearly the Mint is capable of such gimmickry. It has been used to good and bad effect on other coins.

The Queen's Jubilee fifty cents may be one of two made for circulation commemorative half dollars this year. In the 2002 coin sets, the standard fifty cent piece has the date shifted to the head side, as do all the 2002 coin set denominations, and the 1952-2002 reign dates are located adjacent to the Queen's head to help mark the Golden Jubilee. Strictly speaking, a second such fifty cent piece is overkill. It will be interesting to see if the coin set style half dollar sees circulation during the year. The 2001 versions only made it out in November.

What a departure the commemorative fifty cents is. The indicia have been moved from the sides of the coat of arms to the top and bottom only, leaving large blank fields down the sides. 50 Cents tops the shield, while the commemorative dates 1952-2002 appear below it. When first looking at the coin, which somewhat resembles a medal or medallion, I thought the Mint had left off the country name. They did this once before on a 1998 non circulating large cent commemorative. For the Jubilee coin, the Mint moved the country name to the head side of the coin and placed Canada in tiny letters to the left of the portrait. Should any of these coins escape hoarding and actually circulate, some people are going to have a hard time figuring them out.

The most exciting feature of the 2002 Jubilee fifty cents coin is the reappearance of the bust used on the 1953 Coronation medallion that the Mint then distributed to schoolchildren. It is a fitting and timeless tribute to the long reigning monarch, and the old portrait fills the head side of the coin. As always the Romanesque latin inscription D.G. Regina, "Queen by the Grace of God," appears to the right of the bust. The royal cipher EIIR shows above Canada on the left. I have to mention the small P for plated mark beneath the bust, which now appears on all plated 1c to 50c Canadian coins.

There are some production flaws to watch for on the Golden Jubilee coin. We have seen several die chip varieties where the R in Regina is supplanted by a crater. There is also a G spot variety towards the top of the G in Regina in some of the coins we inspected.

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Newsletter #31
Newfoundland Specialized Stamp Catalogue A Winner

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