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The Royal Canadian Mint unveils the first coins bearing the face of King Charles III

The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled the first coins bearing the face of King Charles III on Tuesday at its Winnipeg manufacturing facility.

Marie Lemay, the president and CEO of the Mint, introduced the effigy that will soon adorn one side of Canadian coins and which will also be pressed onto a loonie for the first time.

“This is a big day for us at the Mint,” said Lemay during the unveiling. “Today, a new chapter in Canadian history begins.”

Lemay said it normally takes between a year to 18 months to circulate a new design on coins. However, the Winnipeg team worked tirelessly to meet the “ambitious timeline.”

To uphold long-standing traditions, the King’s profile faces left, opposite to the direction his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, faced. This change of direction is to differentiate one monarch’s reign to the next.

The description surrounding the King’s effigy is also different, changing from “Regina,” meaning “Queen” in Latin, to “Rex,” meaning “King.”

Another change is that the initials of the artist will also appear on the obverse.

During the 10-minute unveiling ceremony, Lemay activated the machine to strike the first $1 coin depicting King Charles III’s effigy.

While Canada is not obligated to put the monarch on its money, it is a tradition that dates back to 1908, when the Mint began producing coins during King Edward VII’s reign.

Alex Reeves, a spokesperson for the Mint, said there are no “significant costs” to designing a new effigy.

“Replacing dies to keep supplying the marketplace with new coins and engraving new designs on coins are routine aspects of our operations,” he told CTVNews.ca over email on Tuesday.

The new Canadian coin depicting King Charles III was unveiled on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.

Earlier this year, the federal government instructed the Mint and the Bank of Canada to replace the image of the late queen with one of the King on all coins and the $20 bill, following the King’s accession to the throne in September 2022.

The last time the Mint changed the Canadian coins to honour a new monarch was 70 years ago when the late queen was crowned, making this another historic transformation.

Other Commonwealth countries have also moved to replace images of the queen, including Australia, which is expecting about 10 million of its dollar coins to circulate by Christmas.

According to the Mint, a small number of 2023-dated coins with the King are going to circulate in Canada in early December.

All Canadian coins still in circulation with the queen are considered legal tender. 

THE PROCESS TO CREATE A NEW DESIGN

Since 1990, Canadian coins have featured a royal effigy designed by Canadian artists, according to the Mint’s website. Dora de Pedery-Hunt’s work was featured from 1990 to 2002, and Susanna Blunt’s from 2003 until now.

This year, following the government’s announcement to introduce a new design, the Mint invited more than 350 Canadian artists and engravers on their database to submit a portfolio to their internal review panel.

The design concepts were evaluated based on aesthetics, technical requirements and mass-production suitability.

Then, the winning design was submitted to Buckingham Palace for approval. Once approved, the Mint started the engraving and tooling process, followed by production.

The new coin image features work by Canadian portrait artist Steven Rosati, who has designed other coins for the Mint, including six silver National Hockey League goalie coins and a 100th anniversary commemorative loonie in honour of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It is an added privilege to having had the honour of designing the coin effigy of His Majesty King Charles III,” said Rosati, about his work, during the ceremony.

Rosati said it was extremely meaningful for him to see his artwork permanently engraved on a coin that will be in circulation for generations to come.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press. 

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