Every collector coin starts with a solid bar of cast metal; then, the transformation begins. In a few steps, the Royal Canadian Mint’s equipment and expertise turn those bars into finely wrought coins. This year, one of those coins – a 35 mm diameter, cupro-nickel alloy, commemorative 25-Cent Coin – celebrates CBC/Radio-Canada’s 75th anniversary.
We sent a film crew over to the Mint at 320 Sussex Drive in Ottawa to capture the action and to take us through the process from head to tail.
First, the metal bars (that have already been cast from molten metal) must be rolled, heated and rolled again into long, shiny strips specific to the size and thickness of the finished coin. Next, the strips are punched out into flat discs called blanks and given raised edges. Before the blanks can be “coined” – the process which strikes the artwork onto them – they must be washed using soap, water, stainless steel beads and then dried on soft towels.
The final step, when the design gets struck onto the coin, is the most remarkable. In advance of manufacturing, a team works together to create a die for the coin. The die is the tool used to strike an image or relief onto a blank, turning it into a coin. The die is a large steel stamp with a mirror image of the coin face on it.
Once the die is in place and the cleaned blanks are ready, the coining happens in an instant. The die comes down on one blank after another, making a long chain of coins to be verified, packaged and sold.
Our coin depicts a special microphone created by CBC/Radio-Canada for the 1939 Royal Tour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Microphones from the pre-television era usually said ‘CBC’. The first archival material showing a ‘Radio-Canada’ microphone appears around 1950. Even journalist Judith Jasmin’s 1952 microphone at the inauguration of television in Montreal was marked ‘CBC.’ The microphone image for this coin was reproduced and engraved into a die by a computerized process.
The transformative process of minting is a good parallel to the way CBC/Radio-Canada has grown over time. We hope to put our programming and our services – like coins – into the hands of all Canadians.
- Eric Romanica, Public Relations Coordinator, Corporate Communications