The 2010 Ultra-High-Relief (UHR) "The Sun" silver dollar was the Royal Canadian Mint's (R C M's) second release of a high-relief proof silver dollar (SD) - it's first was the 2008 UHR Poppy Dollar. (Link below.)
"The Sun" silver dollar was First Nations-themed and part of a large program of coins issued by the R C M to mark Canada's hosting of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Side Note: Canada led all nations in gold medals at the Games, collecting 14, but finished third in total medals won with 26, behind the United States (37, 1st) and Germany (30, 2nd).
The commemorative reverse of the coin depicts a First Nations' rendition of the sun; it is presented in very high relief. From the R C M sales page on the Mint's web site, "[The Sun] has also been a cornerstone in the culture of Canada's many First Nations communities, representing life, abundance, healing and peace. The sun was carved on masks and totem poles and is the symbol that currently crowns the world's tallest totem located in Alert Bay (British Columbia)." Side Note: The Alert Bay totem still holds the "tallest" title. From the Atlas Obscura web site, the totem "is meant to represent different factions of the Kwakwaka'wakw people. The figures include the Sun Man, a whale, an old man, a wolf, the Thunderbird and its cousin, the Kulusl, a two-headed serpent, a bear holding a salmon, and a raven holding copper." (Link below.)
Xwalacktun (Rick Harry), a member of the Squamish Nation, is the coin's designer. He is also credited with designing the $250 silver one kilogram "The Eagle" coin that was produced by the Mint in standard proof, antiqued finish and enameled versions - it was also part of the Mint's Vancouver Olympics coin program. Xwalackfun had existing ties to the Vancouver Olympics at the time of his Mint design work, having created artwork for inclusion in the successful Vancouver-Whistler bid for the Winter Games. He was also selected by the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANCO) to create artwork for use on souvenir merchandise.
To learn much more about Xwalacktun's art and his background, visit his web site at: http://www.xwalacktun.ca//
The coin's obverse uses the Susanna Blunt portrait of Queen Elizabeth (the same as is used on most Canadian coins); it is presented in standard relief not high relief.
The proof coin was struck on a sterling silver planchet (0.925 silver, 0.075 copper) weighing 30 grams; the finished coin had a diameter of 36.15 millimeters (mm); it is slightly larger than the 36.07 mm planchet used for standard-relief silver dollars. The coin has a plain edge.
At the time of its release, the Mint touted the high level of hand-crafting and polishing used to produce the coin, and alerted potential customers that "slight inconsistencies" on the coin's surfaces should be expected. I purchased two of the coins at the time, and am happy to say that neither of mine show any evidence of flaws or inconsistencies on their surfaces - their mirror-like surfaces are clean.
The coin was a "Limited Edition" silver dollar with a listed maximum mintage of 5,000. It had a Household limit of three (3) and was initially reported as "Sold Out" due to initial orders for the coin. Per the Mint's 2010 Annual Report
, however, just 3,722 of the 5,000 limit were reported as sold/delivered; no additional sales of the coin were listed in the 2011 Report
. In my mind, the lack of sell-out for such a low mintage coin (circa 2010) can most likely be attributed to the production issues the Mint faced with the coin and the extended delays customers experienced with delivery of their orders for the coin. For example, I placed my order on 16 October 2009 when the SD became available, it was not shipped, however, until 10 March 2010 - nearly five months later. I called the Mint on three separate occasions to ensure my order was still in its system and that I would receive my coin. It would not surprise me to learn that many customers cancelled their orders due to the extended delay - I believe this was a major contributor to the lower-than-initially-forecast sales total.
For further reading:
- 2008 UHR Poppy Dollar
- World's Tallest Totem Pole - Atlas Obscura