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'Invisible' 25-cent coins are Celebrations of millennium

(The following copyrighted item by Robert Aaron first appeared in The Toronto Star, and is reprinted here with permission of the author.)

The Royal Canadian Mint pushes ahead with its series of invisible 25-cent coins marking the millennium.

They are invisible because the chartered banks have been boycotting their distribution, leaving very few to trickle into circulation from other sources including coin dealers and post offices. The latest in the series entitled Celebration 2000, was designed by 15-year-old Thunder Bay resident Laura Paxton.

The Design depicts six children, several of whom are holding the Canadian flag. One of the children is in a wheelchair, another is on crutches. Fireworks in the background symbolize Canada's birthday for many years to come.

The image evokes the artist's hope of young people coming together to build an even better Canada. Laura, who attends Hammarskjold Secondary School in Thunder Bay, writing poems and stories, drawing, spending time on her computer and playing guitar. She hopes to pursue a career in counselling when she's older.

Her design was one of the winners in a contest sponsored by the mint last year. An independent panel, composed of post-secondary art and design students, selected 12 winning designs from among 33,000 entries. The artwork chosen for this series reflects the visions of Canadians from all walks of life.

The nationwide contest invited Canadians to celebrate the millennium by "Drawing on our past and designing the future" to reflect Canada through the eyes of ordinary Canadians with an extraordinary love of their country.

Three different versions of the Celebration 25-cent coin are available - a nickel version of the type used on circulating 25-cent coins, and a sterling silver version in collector sets. The min also came up with a so-called colourized version, in which the leaf and side panels of the Canadian flag have been daubed with something that resembles nail polish. This colourized version was prices at $8.95 and all 25,000 copies sold out immediately.

Copies are available on the secondary market from coin dealers and distributors. They can also supply the silver and nickel 25-cent pieces either individually or in sets.

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