Multiple Coin Finishes by the Royal Canadian Mint

With all of the recent attention about the United States Mint’s upcoming Enhanced Uncirculated Silver Eagle which uses three different finishes on the same coin, I wanted to take a post to showcase some Royal Canadian Mint coins that have used multiple finishes.


The first is the 2012 25th Anniversary of the Loonie $1 Silver Coin, which I have shared in a previous post. The RCM really underplayed the use of different contrasting finishes on the product page, so I was very surprised when it arrived. The product descriptions simply said that the coin featured a unique soft matte finish and images seemed to display a uniform finish throughout the entire coin.

In hand, it was apparent that the soft matte finish was used only for the background fields. The inscriptions, portrait, and ducks carry a heavily frosted finish. The water and interiors of the number “25” are deeply mirrored.

The use of three different finishes provides for a striking appearance and seems particularly suited to the 25th Anniversary Loonie coin’s design. I am not sure if the same thing can be said for the upcoming United States Mint offering. The design for the American Silver Eagle was originally created by Adolph A. Weinman in 1916 long before such specialized treatments were possible. The US Mint is applying different finishes to this classic design as they best see fit.

Arctic Fox Silver Coin

The coin shown above is the Royal Canadian Mint’s 2013 Arctic Fox $20 Silver Coin, which was released earlier this year and still remains available for sale on the RCM website here. This coin takes the concept of different finishes to the extreme with the design showcasing five different coin finishes.

I purchased this coin since I wanted to see it in hand. It does not makes as much of an impression as the previous Loonie coin. As seen in the image above, the difference in some of the finishes is much more subtle since there are only so many variations in luster possible. The outer ring and some portions of the fox are deeply mirrored. Inscriptions and the remaining portions of the fox are heavily frosted. The background within the central portion seems to be the soft matte finish. From what I can see, the remaining two finishes are used for the wavy lines and the rays and dots within the central portion.

At some point, the subtle differences in finish stop carrying an impression within a coin’s design. One, two, and sometimes three finishes might be what works best for coins.

Update: Also here is an image of the RCM’s 2013 Year of the Snake $10 Silver Coin that a reader mentioned in the comments. This coin has heavily frosted and mirrored finishes on relief elements with a striated matte finish background created using laser etching.


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  1. Frankie says

    Personally, I prefer the arctic fox to the loonie, but that’s just mho. It really is a stunning coin.
    Today, the RCM released another “five surface finish” coin:
    Limited Edition Proof Silver Dollar – 250th Anniversary of the End of the Seven Years War – Mintage: 10000 (2013)
    Only available to MC members, should be readily available to everyone else in a week or so.

  2. numisMatt says

    The Canadian 1/2oz Year of the Snake coin (that you’ve highlighted in another posting) also has 3 finishes, to great effect. It’s a really compelling visual device, and one of my favorite coins.

  3. Michael Zielinski says

    Thanks for reminding me about that one. I added an image of the Year of the Snake coin since I had one handy.

  4. cpoonteach says

    Great post and thanks for focusing our attention on multiple finishes applied to numismatic coins.

    I’d have to strongly agree that RCM did not advertise the multiple finishes found on the 25th Anniversary Silver loonie. Further, I was surprised that the images provided by RCM for the Arctic Fox just did not do it justice. Surely it look much more compelling in person. The photo you provided here is great!

    Really curious to know about how the US Mint will execute their new American Eagles. That’s the new two-coin set coming out in May/June, yeah? Can’t wait for that!

    And Frankie: thanks for the heads-up about another multiple finish coin in this current release. Picked one up! Love historically signficant coins!

  5. Samuel says sucks! i got the new coin email notice at 1AM, when i want to place order at 9AM, all the interesting coins are gone, same time, many coins are on the ebay. so, this masters club membership is just garbage?

  6. Louis says

    I know what you mean, Samuel. I tried as soon as I got the e-mail, and the web site would not work for the next two hrs. By then the Venetian glass coins were gone, but I did get the UHR moon mask, which looks very interesting and is now also gone.

  7. Samuel says

    Louis, did u ever see the butterfly available? when i saw it, it is already awaiting stock!

  8. Louis says

    No, it was gone by the time I could actually get into the site. The problem is there are a lot of club members, including dealers, and they can each get two coins and wipe out the whole mintage in an hour or two. If I had a fighting chance by actually getting on the site, I would feel better. But there’s no point in losing sleep over it.

  9. Samuel says

    i actually went to bed at about 2AM, but i never known they already put them on the website. except this coin, nothing interesting for the past yr. so the membership is worthless now.

  10. G says

    I was lucky to get the butterfly coins. I also got the moon masks and tree canopy coins. And I have to admit- the 1/4 oz silver bee is actually really cool so I picked a few up.

  11. Samuel says

    G, i got it. u must be at west coast. there is not a chance for people at eastcoast. i received the email on 1:16AM.

  12. Samuel says

    CO, no, i did not stay up to buy the coin. (at least, i did not see the email at that time, and the email account is one that i seldom use.) if i know it will be on sale at that time, MAYBE, i will stay up.

    several points:
    – Masters Club=garbage.
    – westcoast people have advantage over east coast people on this matter.
    – for the past a couple of months, i actually received paper brochures before the email for the new coins. so i was caught off guard this month.

  13. Louis says

    CO and Samuel,

    Actually, the e-mail arrived at 11pm east coast time, so I don’t think the west coast had any advantage. The problem is the site was jammed up for two hrs. while all the club members were hogging the butterfly coins. I think it was like the 25th anniv. eagle sets, those with the fastest connections got the treats. But I don’t think they always send the notice at night. I got the e-mail for the wolves in the morning. Anyway, I had no problem ordering the two other coins I wanted at 1am, which is not late for me, and I am pretty confident that one of the RCM retailers will have the Venetian glass coin next week for much less than e-Bay. It was disappointing, but Life goes on…….. And besides, it’s hard to afford all those coins, so my wallet thanks me.

  14. Schalk says

    Samuel and Louis

    If you did not get the venetian glass coin – but you somehow got the mask coin, or the 7-year war coin, and you are not flippers but appreciate the art of coin making – then rest assured, in a proper world coin auction, 10-15 years from now, you just may encounter the high definition mask or 7-year war coin, but I very much doubt it whether the venetian glass coin will be there.

    Do you really think the coin is attractive, has a well restricted mintage and a long term appreciation potential?

    To me, the answer is no in all three instances.

  15. G says

    Samuel- yes, west coast. But I also called in because the site was crashing and got through on the phone. I know you can also get these through the canadian post office once they officially release, so if you haven’t gotten one yet, check there the day of the official release (after the master’s club)

  16. Samuel says

    Louis, i checked my email again, the notice came in at 1:16 AM, maybe my email service provider got some delay. and, you got the email at 11 PM, and west coast people got about at 8 PM. so u can see the west coast people have much much better chance to see the email in real time. for me, 1:16 AM is almost equal to 9:00 AM.

    Schalk, u maybe right. in the following years i would expect new coins from mints all over the world would flood the market. so the chance for any current coins to stand out is really really slim. (i maybe not knowledgeable enough), if i look backward for about 10 years, I did not see many of them.

  17. Samuel says

    G, the capost will NOT have the “hot” coins. i noticed that for the past several months, e.g., 5-penny set, penny special wrap etc.

  18. Louis says

    Schalk, those are the two coins I did get, and I have no idea, nor do you or anyone else, what will be in demand in a decade. When it coms to RCM’s rather overpriced but attractive stuff, I buy what I want, and I do like the Venetian coin. I have the 2nd one and it is very nice. A couple of the other new items also caught my attention, but I could not justify spending more money. Plus enough with the polar bears!

    Thanks, G, for mentioning the phone. I am new to the club and had no idea I could have called my order in at night. That must be how most people got theirs. Does the site regularly crash like it did the last two times when there is a hot new release?

  19. G says

    Louis- no problem- yes, when you call they put you through to a VIP line. It took about 40 minutes of hold time. Similar to the 2011 Silver Eagle Sets. But, I have to say, they did a good job of checking in and letting me know I was on hold and I always felt like the order was going through.

  20. Louis says

    Thanks for the info, G. I was also leaning towards the Canopy. Maybe by next week when Gatewest gets it. Imagine the outcry if our Mint had a VIP line, though it would be a nice way to reward loyal customers.

  21. Louis says

    Schalk- Just to be clear, I agree that the glass coins could turn out to be a fad, which is I think what you were suggesting. But no one else has done anything like that and so far there are only three, so these may remain of interest for quite a while. How does anyone keep up with all this stuff? it makes my head spin!

  22. Louis says

    One other thing- It turns out there was a massive DNS attack in the past day that affected 100’s of millions of web users, and that could have had something to do with the website issue at RCM.

  23. MT says

    I really like the RCM multi finish coins, but I sure wish they would incorporate a decent glow-in-the-dark treatment onto these coins… maybe even rubies for the eyes if that not asking too much.

    And now this money grubbing marketing think is infiltrating the U.S.Mint? Awesome! Just awesome.
    Hope I have a chance for the colorized decal and hologram concession.

    Michael: Loons are NOT ducks. Please don’t make that terrible mistake again… it goes to credibility.

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