Donning cloaks and drawing daggers, the Royal Canadian Mint issued the first colour coin for circulation, the Canadian 2004 Coloured Poppy 25c. Given that Australia has just had its first circulating colour coin issue the 2012 $2 Remembrance Day commemorative – which also features a poppy and has been garnering a lot of attention – what better time to explore the inadvertently clandestine past of Canada’s infamous ‘Spy Coin’?
Issued in 2004, the Canadian quarter featured a brand new technology for circulating coins; colour! This unique concept so startled some travelling American army intelligence contractors that in 2007 they not-so-intelligently feared the coins were some sort of advanced espionage tool powered by nanotechnology. For those of us not embroiled in the world of tiny gadgets and secret agents, nanotechnology is any technology that manipulates matter on an atomic or molecular scale, usually meaning the manufacture of very tiny devices or structures. The contractors feared that the coins had some kind of tracking or listening device embedded in them, with some going so far as to claim that some of the dastardly coins had been planted on them! The confusion caused somewhat of an international incident and a flurry of concerned emails on both sides.
Eventually the mess was sorted out and American spies accepted that the coins were nothing more than an innovative tribute for Remembrance Day, honouring fallen soldiers, much like Australia’s recent $2 featuring a colour poppy. What may startle some spies today is the existence of a coin that really does feature nanotechnology! The 2012 $10 Nano Earth Silver Proof has a tiny yet extremely detailed map of the world embedded in it.
It’s so tiny, in fact, that you need a microscope to fully appreciate it in all its detail! The legal tender coin also features a full colour picture of the earth and is struck from 50g of sterling silver. Given the remarkable nature of the coin and a mintage almost smaller than the map itself – at only 1000 struck worldwide – this coin is sure to make a perfect conversation piece over a martini (shaken, not stirred, of course)! If you are interested in securing your own cutting-edge ‘spy’ coin, there are a limited supply at Downies.com – and don’t forget to pick up a microscope while you’re at it!