Coin designs of Emanuel Hahn
Emanuel Hahn was a celebrated Canadian sculptor whose work can be seen in the monuments of many Canadian cities. Born in Germany in 1881, Hahn immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of 7. Along with medals and a number of significant war memorials, Hahn designed some of Canada’s most distinctive and iconic coins. The voyageur silver dollar, the Bluenose dime, the caribou 25 cent piece and the 1939 silver dollar commemorating the Royal Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were all Hahn designs.
In 1934 the Department of Finance invited Emanuel Hahn to submit a design for a silver dollar commemorating the silver jubilee of the reign of King George V. Hahn corresponded with the Royal Mint in London and the Royal Canadian Mint to gain insight into the process of minting a coin before submitting a drawing depicting a voyageur and a First Nations man paddling a canoe. To ensure accuracy, Hahn studied the designs of traditional canoes and the paintings of Frances Anne Hopkins. Hahn’s design was approved with only a few minor changes and was used as the standard pattern for the Canadian silver dollar until the introduction of the ‘Loonie’ in 1987.
Following the success of the voyageur silver dollar, Hahn was among several artists invited to submit designs for new Canadian coinage to be released in conjunction with the accession of King George VI, in 1937. Hahn produced no less than 16 sketches. His caribou (proposed for both the nickel and the quarter) and his Bluenose were both selected for the new coins. All of the designs put into circulation in 1937 are still to be found on Canada’s circulating coinage today. Hahn left an impressive mark on Canadian currency and all Canadians can be proud to have a ‘Hahn original’ in their pockets.
Emanuel Hahn’s legacy of coins, drawings, plaster models and correspondence is preserved in the National Currency Collection of the Bank of Canada.
Recently, from October 3 to 5th, collections staff were at the Toronto Coin Expo, held at the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge Street. The show boasts informative lectures, a large auction of coins, tokens and paper money as well as a showroom, called a bourse, where dealers greet clients and buy and sell material.
In one of my favourite cinematic moments, the 11 year-old chess prodigy, Josh Waitzkin, imagines sweeping the pieces off a chess board in order to help him think more clearly about an important game of chess. It is a championship game and he is on the brink of winning it all.
For the first time since they went into their cases in 1980, over 2000 coins, notes, beads and shells are coming back out. The Museum’s curatorial staff are busily pulling panels from cases, placing coins into specially prepared drawers and sliding notes into acid-free Mylar envelopes.
The doors were barely closed following Big Top Farewell event before Chief Curator Paul Berry and his team began emptying display cases that had been sealed shut since 1980. The biggest task involved removing more than 2500 bank notes from the room we knew as Gallery 8.
Another convention of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) wrapped up in July. This year the convention was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was the first time in over thirty years that the RCNA Convention made a stop there.
Before the museum closed for renovations on 2 July, technicians began to remove the heavier artifacts in late May. First to go was the strong box. Built of ¼” thick welded steel plates, this trunk was used by the Bank of Upper Canada in Toronto between 1821 and 1866.
Most of us know the first part of Alexander Graham Bell’s take on opportunity: “When one door closes, another one opens…” What we often don’t recall is the second half of that quote, where he says: “…but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
The Staff of the Currency Museum was saddened to learn of the passing of artist Alex Colville who died on 16 July at his home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He was 92. One of Canada’s most celebrated painters, Colville is not as well-known as a sculptor but if you look carefully through your pocket change you might just find an example of his work.
The roots of the Currency Museum go back to 1959 when the then Governor of the Bank of Canada, James Coyne, proposed the idea of establishing a currency collection that would reflect the colourful monetary history of Canada. By the time the go-ahead was given in 1963 by Coyne’s successor, Louis Rasminsky, the collection’s mandate had been expanded to include world monetary history, banking and production artifacts and a numismatic library.