Sculptor Dora de Pédery-Hunt
Dora de Pédery-Hunt’s work is as familiar as the change that jingles in your pocket. In all likelihood, you have come in contact with her work while using coins to pay for your morning cup of coffee. Dora de Pédery-Hunt was the first Canadian artist to design and sculpt an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II for coinage. Incidentally, this was the first time someone other than a British citizen had designed an official depiction of Queen Elizabeth II for this purpose.
When the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) selected Dora’s design, she painstakingly began working on a clay model. All of the details had to be carefully considered, as the depth of the relief had to be suitable for producing coins. This model was then captured in plaster, where additional refinements could be made. Any errors could easily be corrected at this stage with the addition of more plaster. The size of the plaster is usually several times larger than the actual coin in order to capture all of the fine details.
At the time, there were many steps between the plaster model and the production of coins. Today, the process has been significantly refined. The plaster model is scanned in 3D and any final corrections or enhancements can be made digitally. Guided by this digital file, an engraving machine cuts the design into a piece of steel at the correct size of the coin. Known as a reduction punch, this piece of steel is then used to make the dies which will actually strike the coins. The tremendous pressure used to strike the coins wears down the dies, so the mint will periodically use the punch to create new dies.
This portrait has appeared on all Canadian coins minted between 1990 and 2003.
At the end of May, the Museum hosted a reception for participants of the International Art Medal Federation’s 35th Congress (FIDEM). To accompany this event, we created a small exhibition of the medaller’s art in our Gallery One Showcase. Work by Canadians R. Tait McKenzie, Emanuel Hahn and, of course, de Pédery-Hunt will be on display there until November 25, 2018.
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.”