A commemorative set that doesn't get much attention is the subject of this post - it's a two-piece set of coins that was the result of a joint project between Canada and Norway. I refer, of course, to the 1999 1000th Anniversary of Viking Settlement in Canada Set.
The Set was conceived in Canada with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien being a driving force in its creation. He wrote to the Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, in 1998, and proposed that the each of the countries strike a coin commemorating the estimated 1000-year anniversary of the first Viking settlement in Canada - L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. (The settlement site was identified in the 1960s via archaeological excavations.) The proposal was accepted and the mint of each country began its process.
An interesting feature of the $5 Canadian coin in the set is the fact that it was struck on a planchet prepared by the Den Kongelige Mynt (Royal Norwegian Mint) and one that is identical to the 20 Kroner coin from Norway that is also part of the set. The planchets are 27.5 millimeters (mm) in diameter, 2.2 mm thick,weigh 9.9 grams and are an alloy of 81% copper, 10% zinc and 9% nickel. Each coin was struck by its home country; the Royal Canadian Mint (R C M) and Royal Norwegian Mint, respectively. (Note: This is the only Canadian coin to use this planchet.)
Canada's coin in the set is a proof coin, while the coin from Norway is listed as a brilliant uncirculated strike - it is very proof-like in appearance to my eyes with frosted devices. In addition to the coins for the special collector sets, the Royal Norwegian Mint struck the Norway coin for circulation; the Canadian coin was available only in the sets. The Norwegian coin was also struck in Norway as a full proof coin for collectors; it was included in a 1999 Proof Set that also includes the nation's other circulating coins. (Note: The Royal Norwegian Mint is now referred to simply as the Mint of Norway.)
For the Canadian market, 16,000 sets were made available through the R C M. For the Norwegian market, an additional 10,000 sets were produced (a combined total of 26,000). Mintage for the Norway circulation coin was 1,048,700; for the proof coin, a modest 2,500. I've reviewed the Royal Canadian Mint Annual Reports for 1999 and 2000, but did not find a listing for the coin set in the "Canadian numismatic coinage issued" table included in each. I don't believe the Set was a sell out, however. As such, I continue to consider all mintage figures I see listed on the internet, including the Mint's own web site which lists a surprising 28,450, as "estimated" or "unverified."
The presentation case for the set is listed as being specific to each country's set, but I've never come across a set for the Norway market, so I'm not aware of the differences. The case for the Canadian version is a two-piece, oval-shaped case that has a look-and-feel that can best be described as faux rock. It is an unusual package and does hark back to the more rugged days of the circa-1000 AD Vikings. (Note: The case, with updated, theme-specific labeling/ornamentation, was used again in 2001 for the joint Canada-UK Marconi Set.)
The obverse of the Canadian $5 coin features the Dora de Pédery-Hunt portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Its reverse depicts a Viking longship from the stern as it approaches land - presumably the site of L'Anse aux Meadows. The design was created by independent, Nova Scotia-born artist Donald Curley (who was known for his history-based paintings of regional subjects), and Mint Engraver Stan Witten.
The obverse of the Norway coin features a right-facing portrait of King Harald V. The stylized reverse design presents a view of a longship, from a bow perspective, with above- and below-waterline views of the ship's hull. Though not mentioned specifically, it is likely the ship design is based on the Gokstad ship which was found in Norway in 1880; the ship is currently featured on Norway's 100 krone bank note from a near-identical perspective. Both sides of the coin were designed by Norwegian sculptor Nils Aas. (For more on the note, see: New 100-krone note - motifs
at the Norges Bank web site.)
To the right of the ship (viewer's perspective) is seen the inscription "MOT / UKJENT / LAND" which translates into English as "TOWARDS UNKNOWN LANDS". The crossed-pick-and-hammer mint mark of the Royal Norwegian Mint is shown below the ship, along with the initials of the then-Director of the Mint ("JEJ" - Jan Erik Johnansen). (Note: the initials of the Director of the Mint are no longer included on Norway's coins.)
The original issue price for the Set was $39.95 (CAD).1999 Canada 1000th Anniversary of Viking Settlement $5 1999 Norway 1000th Anniversary of Viking Settlement 20 Kroner 1999 Canada 1000th Anniversary of Viking Settlement Set Presentation Case
For more of my posts on Canadian commemorative coins and medals, check out Read More: Commems Collection