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Canada releases the first glow-in-the-dark coin into circulation

July 5, 2017 0 Comments

Most coin collectors take what they do seriously, building sets and focusing on the complexities of currency and metals. But there is always room for some fun, and Canada seems to be leading the way with novelties such as colored printing, and now glow-in-the-dark coins. Yes, money that you can find with the lights off. At first the attention was focused on collectible coins, but now it has worked its way into pockets too, or at least into circulation coins, with the latest releases to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian independence.

The first appearance of these coins was in 2012, with collectible quarters of dinosaurs with glow-in-the-dark skeletons. Then in 2015, there was a four-coin set of pure silver coins. The first coin released in that series was a $25 pure silver coin weighing 31.83 grams, showing on the reverse the stars of the Big Dipper, with an Indian warrior in the foreground. The image is in full color, and after an exposure to light, when viewed in the dark 7 of the stars glow, thanks to luminescent materials added to the inks used. The following year saw a coin of twice the weight in silver, denominated at $30. It used black light to create multi-colored glowing images of creatures from a coral reef. By limiting these coins to just a few thousand, their collectability value was greatly enhanced.

Following these early successes, a major Star Trek series began, with the latest coin released in April of 2017. These coins all feature multi-colored images and sections with luminescent pigment. Looking for something special to mark independence, the Canadian Mint has now released the world’s first circulation glow-in-the-dark coin, a $2 coin, which Canadians call a ‘Toonie’, since their $1 coin features the bird called a Loon, and was instantly nicknamed the ‘Loonie’.


The coin is initially only available as part of a commemorative collection for the 150th anniversary of Canada’s independence from the United Kingdom, but it will shortly enter general circulation. One side of the coin is traditional, with the head of the British Queen, who is also the Queen of Canada, but it is the reverse where the fun starts. The image is of two people paddling a canoe across a northern lake, with the aurora borealis overhead. Around the rim are the words CANADA 2 DOLLARS 1867 2017, and four images of the Canadian maple leaf. The lake image is colored in dark blue, yellow and green, and when exposed to light and then viewed in the dark the borealis shimmers in a ghostly fluorescent green color. The image was created in a national competition by Timothy Hsia of Richmond, British Columbia.

In addition to this circulation coin, another glow-in-the-dark coin in pure silver has been released as a collectors’ coin. Weighing just 7.96 grams, to keep the price low, it features a full-color fluttering Canadian flag in red and white, with glowing fireworks in the background. The coin is denominated at $5. There is no official limit on the mintage of this coin, unlike the earlier glow-in-the-darks.

The Canadian Mint has a larger purpose than novelty or commemoration in all this. As a global supplier of currency to multiple countries around the world, they hope to raise their profile as innovators and draw more interest to what is at this point a profitable part of their business, earning them about $60 million a year. Whatever their own purpose, they are certainly giving collectors some interesting items to add to their drawers, and these coins are a fantastic way to get younger people interested in coin collecting.

Filed in: Informative

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