I've been meaning to get back to my $5 series for months, but got sidetracked. Hopefully, I can stay on track now and complete the remaining three coin discussions in short order. I completed my purchases early in 2020 (before the silver price run-up) so I have the coins in hand. No excuses!
In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint
) honored the brave Canadians who volunteered to serve and be part of Canada's Expeditionary Force (CEF) in World War I. The CEF was the segment of Canada's military that went overseas to initially serve on the western front during WWI and then, subsequently, in other war theaters; 424,000 of the approximately 630,000 that answered the call for new enlistments went overseas.
The CEF was created in 1914 in response to the United Kingdom (UK) declaring war on Germany on August 4, 1914. As a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada did not independently enter World War I (WWI), it
automatically entered the War when the UK did and it was expected that it would contribute to the war effort.
In 1911, Canada's population was ~7.2 million after experiencing a decade of ~3% annual growth since 1901. Using this growth rate as a proxy and extrapolating to 1914, Canada's population was approximately 7.9 million at the start of World War I. The 630,000 who enlisted to support the war effort thus represented about 8% of the Canadian population. Impressive!
Canadian CEF troops were initially under the command of British Lieutenant-General Sir EAH Alderson until May of 1916, and then under British Lieutenant-General Sir Julian Byng until June 1917. Following this, the Canadian troops were commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, a Canadian officer. Canadian troops would ultimately grow to include 12 infantry brigades in four divisions and number more than 100,000. Canadian troops would distinguish themselves at the Battle of Ypres (1915), the Battle of the Somme (1916), the Battle of Vimy Ridge (1917) and the Battle of Passchendaele (1917), among others.
Turning to the coin...
The central element of the coin's commemorative reverse design is a fresh-from-Canada foot soldier kneeling in the foreground with his body facing left and slightly forward - it is easy to imagine that he is wondering about what hardships and horrors he is about to face in battle. Just in front of the soldier (from the viewer's perspective) is seen a Maple Leaf crest cap badge, one of many versions used by Canadian soldiers during WWI. A convoy of ships is depicted in the background and is meant to symbolize the ships that brought the CEF to Europe. Across the mid-ground of the coin is presented a group of soldiers marching across the scene presented as silhouettes; they are meant to represent soldiers who have already experienced the hardships of war.
A particularly interesting aspect of the coin is its use of multiple finishes. The beach and silhouetted soldiers are a satiny medium gray, the sea is brilliant and the soldier is two-toned via a combination of bright white (typical proof coin frosting) and a darker gray that is similar in appearance to the beach. The maple leaf on the cap badge is also presented with standard proof frosting while the crown and "CANADA" insignia exhibit a different level of frost plus brilliant surfaces.
The Susanna Blunt portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is on the coin's obverse; the Blunt portrait of QEII began appearing on Canada's coins in 2003 and continues to the present day.
Scott Waters designed the coin for the RCM
. He was born in England in 1970, lived for a time in South Africa and
then emigrated to Canada. Scott served in the Canadian military for a time and was part of the Canadian Forces
Artist Program (CFAP) on two occasions: in 2006 at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada and in 2001 in Kabul, Afghanistan. His artwork is part of the permanent collections of the Canadian War Museum and The Military Museums, Canada.
You can learn more about Scott and view some of his artwork, including works he created while part of CFAP, at his web site here: www.scottwaters.ca
From what I can see, the 2014 CEF silver $5 coin is the only coin design he has created for the RCM
(or any other mint).
The coin was struck on a 36.07 mm 0.9999 fine silver planchet; it was struck with a proof finish. The coin weighs 23.17 grams and has a reeded / serrated edge. It was shipped in a maroon clam shell case within a black beauty box.
The coin was placed on sale to the general public on June 10, 2014. The issue price of the coin was $64.95 CAD and it had a published maximum mintage of 10,000. Per the 2014 Annual Report (AR) of the RCM
, sales of the coin totaled 5,718. The 2015 AR listed sales of an additional 666 coins, which brings the total sales for the coin to 6,384 units or ~64% of the potential maximum. So, the sales weren't terrible but it's likely the RCM
was a bit disappointed.
IMO, the CEF $5 coin pairs well with the 2014 commemorative silver dollar (SD) and the silver $10 coin as they all share a CEF theme. The SD and $10 coin focus on training and transporting Canada's troops to the front vs. the $5 coin's theme of a "soldier on the ground" in Europe. I thought the story they told worked well enough together for me to purchase all three denominations from the RCM
back in 2014; something I don't often do.
Following are images of the commemorative reverses of the $1 and $10 coins. The SD presents a scene of the final moments before a soldier boards a train and departs for Valcartier, a primary WWI training base for Canadian soldiers; Valcartier is located in Quebec. The $10 coin depicts a soldier walking up the gangway to the ship that would take him to Plymouth, England in October 1914 as part of Canada's Expeditionary Force.
As I purchased the CEF silver $5 coin directly from the RCM
, I paid more than my $40 target for each coin in my $5 set - I paid $64.95 CAD. The $25 "over spend" puts me at $377 for nine coins which is $17 over my target of $360. But I've got three coins still to go, so a couple of "bargains" can get me back under my budget!Note: I realize that some do not like the idea of celebrating war with commemorative coins. IMO, coins such as these do not celebrate war - they commemorate the extraordinary efforts of those who answered the call to defend their country and way of life.
If you need a refresher on my $5 coin collecting endeavor - or need to read about it for the first time - you can view my initial post about it here: A New Collecting Pursuit