I've long been drawn to the RCM
's silver $8 "Chinese Coin" from 2007, though I'm not exactly sure why. I think, perhaps, I've been intrigued by its novel incorporation (at least for a Canadian coin) of a square hole at its center and its attractive use of Chinese symbols on both its sides.
From the Mint's web site: "This unique coin was inspired by the square-holed coins that came into use in China after 523 B.C. Many believe its round shape symbolized heaven while the square represented earth. These coins were cast from bronze and the holes enabled them to be strung on a cord - 1,000 coins forming the main purchasing unit in use at the time."
The coin was issued to honour Canada's Chinese communities and pay tribute to the difficulties Chinese immigrants faced as they worked to establish themselves in Canada (and helped build the nation) in the late 1800's and beyond. From the Mint's web site: "Ever resourceful, the Chinese created their own communities and overcame their chronic shortage of funds by using the square-holed coins from their homeland as trade tokens."
I've considered purchasing the coin many times since its release, but never pulled the trigger as I focused on my silver dollar collection. (Interesting note: the coin was struck on the same planchet that was in use for Canada's silver dollars at the time: 36.07 mm in diameter with a weight of 25.18 grams.)
's recent holiday sale, however, the coin was available at an exceptional price and I figured that there would be no better time to add the piece to my collection.
The paper certificate that comes with the coin notes the Chinese symbols on the obverse "represent blessings, honour and longevity." It does not identify the position of each symbol, however, so someone like me who is unfamiliar with the characters had to do a bit of online searching to get a handle on them. Though I could not find exact matches, I believe I've identified the symbol at the 3 o'clock position as that for "blessings," at 6 o'clock is the symbol for "longevity" and at the 9 o'clock position is the symbol for "honour." The scrollwork seen in the background is meant to symbolize luck.
Also on the obverse is Susanna Blunt's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. What is unusual about the portrait is that it is presented in miniature as a secondary design element rather than being the focal point. I don't recall another Canadian coin on which the queen's portrait is such a minor element of the obverse design.
The primary design elements on the reverse are a bat, a deer and a dragon. They are common/popular symbols within the Chinese culture and represent good fortune, prosperity and honour, respectively.
The designs were created by Canadian artist Harvey Chan.
The coin originally sold for $49.95 CAD. It had a maximum authorized mintage of 20,000 and was a sell-out with total sales of 19,996. This sales volume accounts for the coin being readily available in today's marketplace at prices at or below its issue price.
Here's my example:2007 Silver $8 "Chinese Coin" Obverse2007 Silver $8 "Chinese Coin" Reverse
If you're looking for something a bit different for your collection - at a reasonable price - I suggest checking out the 2007 $8 "Chinese Coin." It's a novel, well-executed design incorporating much positive symbolism.