November 17, 2011 – The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to announce it has crafted the world’s first 10-kilo 99.999% pure gold coin and that this exquisite numismatic creation has been dedicated to Bill Reid’s The Spirit of Haida Gwaii; one of the most celebrated masterpieces of Canadian art.
Canada – 100,000 dollar – 999 gold – 10,000 g – 180 mm – Mintage: Made-to-order with a maximum of 15 coins. Design: Bill Reid (reverse), Susanna Blunt (obverse).
The bold contours of the sculpture commissioned in 1985 for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., are precisely captured in an ultra-high relief engraving, unique in the world of numismatic art for its sculptural quality. This first-ever Canadian coin to bear a $100,000 face value was unveiled at the Bill Reid Gallery for Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver, British Columbia by Mr. James B. Love, Chair of the Royal Canadian Mint’s Board of Directors and Dr. Martine Reid, Ph.D., Director of Research and Content at the Bill Reid Gallery.
“For more than 20 years, Bill Reid’s The Spirit of Haida Gwaii has epitomized Canadian First Nations art and the Royal Canadian Mint is proud to have chosen this icon of Canadian culture as the subject of its first 10-kilo pure gold collector coin,” said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “As the Mint continues to elevate the art and science of coin manufacturing, it will continue to engineer and handcraft coins which set new benchmarks for our industry while celebrating the best of Canadian culture, heritage, and values.”
“Of all the materials Bill Reid worked with to create his imaginary bestiary, red cedar and gold were his favorite and he particularly loved to work with 22-karat gold for its properties: color, malleability, softness, warmth and luster,” said Dr. Martine Reid, Ph.D., Director of Research and Content at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. “All those who knew and worked with him think he would have been delighted by the Royal Canadian Mint’s bold tribute to The Spirit of Haida Gwaii on a stunning 10-kilogram coin made of the purest gold in the world.”
The powerful image of The Spirit of Haida Gwaii was captured on the Mint’s first 10-kilo gold coin by now retired Mint Master Engraver Cosme Saffioti. Inspired by the imposing scale of Bill Reid’s masterpiece, he manually engraved a faithful recreation, using traditional techniques, to an ultra-high relief rarely achieved in the world of coin making. The result is a meticulously detailed sculpture of 99.999% pure gold, honoring the original in a spectacular new form. This extraordinary coin was struck at the Mint’s Ottawa facility, using the same 2,500 ton press from which the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games athlete medals were produced.
No more than 15 of these exclusive coins will be crafted for collectors of both fine art and of the finest gold in the world. Its price is a combination of the gold market rate at the time of purchase, plus a premium for its manufacturing and very limited mintage.
The engraving of Bill Reid’s masterpiece appearing on the reverse of this coin is beautifully highlighted in a proof finish, contrasting the sculpture’s image in a satin finish set against a brilliant, mirror-like background. The obverse of the coin, also finished in proof quality, features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II created by portrait artist Susanna Blunt in 2003.
In 1985, Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson commissioned Bill Reid to produce a sculpture for the new Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The result was The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Black Canoe, which is cast in bronze and represents Reid’s largest and most complex sculpture standing almost four metres in height and weighing 4,900 kilos. A second casting, named The Jade Canoe, graces the terminal of the Vancouver International Airport, while the original plaster pattern of the monument is displayed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii 10-kilo pure gold collector coin is on public display at the Mint’s downtown Vancouver boutique on October 22 and 23, 2011.
The Royal Canadian Mint has dedicated a website to this coin. You will find more information here.
To see other works by Bill Reid, visit the Bill Reid Gallery.
Bill Reid’s legacy is preserved by the Bill Reid Foundation.