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New 50-cent coins are for the birds

Robert Aaron (special to the Toronto Star)

BIRDS OF PREY: Quebec artist Jean-Luc Grondin designed the bald eagle and great horned owl coins.

Quebec artist Jean-Luc Grondin designed the first two coins. His bald eagle honours the bird whose wingspan can stretch up to 2.5 meters. The great horned owl coin shows the enormous yellow eyes and obvious "horns" that make it one of Canada's most easily recognizable birds of prey.

Biologist and artist Pierre Leduc designed the two coins featuring the osprey and the red-tailed hawk. the osprey is a species of hawk highly adapted to hunting fish with spectacular dives of 15 to 60 metres above the water. Its relative, the red-tailed hawk, is a graceful glider which can soar for hours on its huge wingspan.

The birds of prey coins sell for about $19.95 each or $59.95 for the set of four (plus taxes) from coin dealers and distributors.


SHOW BIZ: Canada's longest-running and most popular collector's show is now under new ownership. Brian R. Smith has acquired the show from his mother Ingrid Smith, who operated it for many years.

No stranger to Torex regulars, Brian Smith is the developer of the award-winning Canadian Coin Reference site ( This site continues to be a valuable resource for numismatic enthusiasts everywhere.

The first Torex show under the new ownership will take place on the weekend of June 17 and 18 at the Best Western Primrose Hotel, 111 Carlton St., Toronto. Call Brian R. Smith at (416) 861-9523 or go to

In conjunction with the show, a superb auction of numismatic and military material conducted by Jeffrey Hoare Auctions Inc. will take place on June 16 and 17. Call (519) 473-7491 for more information.

Also taking place at the Torex show will be a meeting of the Classical & Medieval Numismatic Society on June 17 at 2p.m. in the Rainbow Room at the Primrose Hotel, Toronto, Ont.

Collector Ross G. Blakey will deliver A Review of Tudor Coins 1485-1603.


MONEY MAKER: The Royal Canadian Mint has reported formidable financial results for 1999.

Total revenue for the year was $584.4 million with net income rising to $21.7 million, up 388 per cent from the 1998 net income of $4.5 million.
Last year was in many ways the best ever for the mint.
Back in 1980, its profits exceeded $22 million, due mainly to a volatile gold market over which it had no control.
By contrast, last years' near-record profits were driven by the mint's successful efforts to create both innovative products and innovative marketing programs.
Numismatic sales accounted for $76.2 million, up from $43.5 million in 1998, due mainly to sales of the millennium coins.
In all, 70 per cent of total revenue came from outside Canada, including the mint's production of 1.8 billion foreign coins.
The annual report is online at

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