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The "World's Athletic Heroes" Canadian Olympic Coin Program

Tom Becker

What follows is the outline of a program that will accomplish many positive things for both Canada and all those involved in the Winter Olympic Games to be held in 2010. The creators of this program acknowledge that certain of their ideas and proposals may require revision to comply with various policies, regulations and laws. The purpose in producing this report is to provide a basic structure upon which the most successful Olympic Coin Program ever devised can be built and implemented.

OverviewDuring the last several decades, Olympic coin programs have generated only moderate interest from both the general and coin collecting public. A host nation celebrating an Olympic event by producing various sets of coins has become a predictable tradition. For the 2010 Canadian program to create sufficient attention and corresponding revenue it will be necessary to produce coins that are important, appealing and obviously like nothing done before. The program we have created accomplishes all of this and will generate coin sales in numbers that exceed by many multiples whatever any other suggested programs might expect to attain. If our proposal is adopted and implemented following our continuing guidance, sales of 2010 Olympic coins will be measured in many millions rather than thousands. Our program will also stimulate interest and prompt purchases of current and future Royal Canadian Mint products.

A Truly Canadian Olympic Coin ProgramThe global appeal of the Olympic Games results because the event recognizes and celebrates individual accomplishment without bias or political implications. The coins produced for the 2010 games need to focus on and reinforce the notion that Olympic athletes are people that every citizen of the world can admire.

Canada's reputation is that of a peaceful, tolerant nation. Canadians are active and energetic. They enjoy sports of all kinds and sincerely appreciate excellence no matter if the athlete is a Canadian or resides in a foreign country. Canadian athletes are well known for being strong competitors and yet always ready to acknowledge and congratulate others who excel. Canada is the ideal country to host the Olympic games. It is critically important that Canadian virtues be obviously reflected in the coins produced to celebrate the 2010 games.

By producing the right coins Canada will be able to send an important and lasting message to the rest of the world. This message will result in increased recognition of Canada as an admirable and invaluable member of the world community. Of equal importance, these coins will make Canadians proud to be part of an Olympic event like no other that has ever been held.

Nuts and BoltsWe propose that the fifty cent denomination be the primary coin used for 2010 Olympic Commemorative coinage. Historically, this denomination has not been over utilized for commemorative purposes and the size of the coin is sufficient to allow for the design applications we will outline later in this report. The monetary value of the coin is also important when considering potential demand for these coins in foreign countries. We would strongly suggest that the primary focus of the program be in producing business strike coins designed for circulation. The various giftware and collector orientated combinations of coins in various metals would certainly prove to be a significant source of revenue, but based on the scope and potential of our program these products would be a secondary consideration.

The simplicity of our program is what guarantees success. Beginning in 2004, the Canadian Olympic Committee would contact like organizations around the world to suggest that within its ability to do so, Canada would like to produce a commemorative coin to honor one of each nation's Olympic athletes. Which athlete to be honored will be entirely up to the Olympic Committee in the invited nation. Ideally, both living and dead athletes could be considered. If it were impossible to portray a living person other than the Queen on a Canadian coin then a dead athlete would need to be selected by each country. Each country will be allocated a single coin and strict submission deadlines must be met. It is fully expected that not every country contacted may be interested in participating and that some who may express initial interest will fail to comply with program guidelines. Under no circumstance will any athlete or nation be offered compensation for participating.

We will admit to having no knowledge of what the Canadian Olympic Committee may be allowed to suggest as themes for commemorative coinage. While ambitious, our program would allow participating nations to select an athlete who had participated in either winter of summer games. Providing this freedom of choice would result in an equitable program and create a greater diversity of coins while increasing demand for them.

ProfitsOur program anticipates that Canadian commemorative coins produced to honor another nation's most important Olympic athlete will generate significant interest for the coin in the country being honored. To the best of our knowledge, no country has ever produced a coin to celebrate the athletic accomplishments of a person from a foreign land. Admitting to a lack of research, we would suggest that few if any countries have produced a coin to specifically commemorate any person who has participated in the Olympic Games.

While demand for the commemorative coins would predictably vary depending on the population and economic circumstances of each country, we think it's fair to say that great numbers of people in many countries would be interested in acquiring a “curious” coin from a friendly nation that was kind and thoughtful enough to commemorate the accomplishments of one of the “home” athletes. That the fifty cent face value coin might cost a bit more than it's monetary worth would mean nothing to the consumer who was pleased that Canadians would do such an extraordinary thing.

We would predict that very few of the 2010 Olympic coins sold in any country, other than the United States would ever find their way back to Canada to be used as money. We would also suggest that millions upon millions of Olympic half dollars would be distributed around the world.

It takes little contemplation to imagine the general public's response to such unique coins in nations like Japan or Germany. Coin collectors around the world would certainly want to obtain complete sets of these remarkably affordable and historically important coins. Exposure to the circulation strike versions would generate demand for single coins and sets produced in Proof condition and struck in precious metal. That each of the coins provides a “history lesson” about the Olympic Games in general and the specific accomplishments of famous participants is sufficient reason to have produced such coins.

Planning, Production And Distribution (Circulation Strike Coins)We would predict an overwhelmingly positive response to the program from nations who are invited to participate. To produce a large series of coins it would be necessary to follow a reasonably standardized format. The obverse of the coins would remain unchanged from the present design with the exception of moving the date to this side. The reverse of each commemorative would feature a bust style image of the athlete superimposed on a limited background design illustrating the athletic activity. In small letters a legend would include the athlete's name and the country of origin. Each country would be given the option of submitting potential designs or leaving the work to Canadian artists.

The series of coins would be produced over a number of years beginning no later than 2006. A fixed roster of participating nations would be determined before any coins were produced. The identity of the athletes to be honored and a design for every participating nation's coin would also be determined and finalized before any coins were produced.

The order in which the coins would be produced and distributed could follow any number of plans best left to the experts at the RCM. We would strongly recommend that to positively sustain interest in the program the Canadian coin be the last to be minted. It would be following simple good manners for the host to go last. The United States coin would be produced and distributed somewhere near the middle of the program.

There are bound to be a variety of opinions concerning how many of each coin should be produced. We think it is critically important to realize that this commemorative program is not one that only anticipates demand from coin collectors or Olympic enthusiasts. We fully expect each coin to be in great demand among average citizens in the country being honored. Certainly the worldwide demand for some coins will be considerably greater than others. For this reason we would recommend the circulation strike mintages for each coin be allowed to float with production matching demand. A key element in this program is to make certain every person who wishes to obtain one of these coins can do so at an affordable price. Production schedules could be managed by allowing certain commemorative coins to be produced in more than one year. This would be a simple task because the date is on the common obverse so the original reverse dies could be used in more than one year. This production flexibility would create the maximum potential revenue. Concerns from purists in the collector community could be addressed by pointing out that there have been numerous instances in the past where the same commemorative coin was produced in more than one year. The 500 Markkaa Finnish Olympic coin struck in both 1951 and 1952 immediately comes to mind.

Planning Production And Distribution (Made For Collectors Issues)Our program takes into account the need to generate and sustain interest in the Olympic Commemorative coins over a number of years. We must also anticipate that interest in the coins and demand for them will increase as 2010 nears. Interest in the program will also fluctuate with the production of certain “key” issues in the series. For these reasons it will be mandatory that those responsible for marketing the coins determine the order in which the coins are produced.

How examples of these coins struck in precious metal will be marketed should follow the Royal Canadian Mint's already excellent distribution methods. As with the circulation strike coins, it should be anticipated that demand for certain Premium Coins in the series will greatly exceed that of others. For this reason, it may be necessary to expand the distribution network for RCM products in certain countries and to work with distributors in these countries to gauge potential demand and acquire firm commitments from all distributors to purchase a specific amount of product. Because demand for each coin in the series will vary, each coin should be made available as a single item. Each coin dealer or other entity that is a member of the distribution network should be allowed to purchase the same maximum number of any coin. To give preference to certain distributors when offering certain coins could reduce overall sales. For example, it is entirely possible that a distributor in Germany or Japan could sell more of the Swedish commemorative issue than would the distributors located in Sweden.

What the program absolutely requires in addition to traditional distribution methods is a marketing tool that continually creates fresh opportunities to publicize and draw media and collector attention to the program. This will be accomplished by producing “First Day Of Minting” coins. Each of these pieces will be offered for sale in a special holder. The coins to be used in this portion of the program will be regular circulation strike coins. The RCM will decide in advance exactly how many of these coins can or should be produced in a single day of production.

This program creates the opportunity to conduct an important ceremony each time a new coin in the program is first produced. Depending on which athlete is selected, it might be possible for them or family members to be in attendance when the first coins are produced. Certainly the ceremony would allow each nation's Olympic dignitaries to gain publicity for themselves and their country.

SummaryThis report is intended only as an overview and a way for us to provide documentation to prove when we conceived this program and that it is our property. The program we've created would have tremendous appeal to any country hosting Olympic games.

We would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have as well as expand on any of the topics we have outlined in this document. Your opinions concerning the viability of this program are eagerly sought. We are most interested in hearing from those who would be kind enough to tell us why our program wouldn't be the best choice for the 2010 Canadian Olympic Games.


Tom Becker is a regular contributor to the Canadian Coin Reference Site, you can direct your questions directly to Tom easily by or visit Tom's website @


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