Alex Colville’s Coins

July 16th marked only the fourth anniversary of the passing of Alex Colville, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists and someone of absolute renown in Canadian numismatics for his designs on Canada’s centennial coinage.  Among a large portion of today’s collectors, those designs were directly responsible for creating an interest in numismatics.  Even though they’re relatively commonplace still, thanks to their hoarding, Geoffrey Bell Auctions Ltd. has handled a number of coins from 1967.

Fifty years has passed since Colville’s animals captured the heart of so many across our country, coin collectors and casual observers alike, and now a new batch of commemorative circulating coins for Canada 150 have caught the eye of a new generation of potential collectors.  Of course, finding commemorative coins in our change is a lot more common now than it was five decades ago.


Centennial coins are surreptitiously famous for their errors.  The year was a boon for almost every type of conceivable mistake, leaving many to wonder if they were helped out a little.  Perhaps the most dramatic we’ve handled was a silver dollar flip strike that sold at the 2016 RCNA Ottawa Sale for $10,500.

Even the specimen set, with the $20 gold piece that Colville didn’t design, is very common.  At the Toronto Coin Expo 2017 Spring Sale we auctioned a special set though, bearing the signature of Alex Colville on the COA.

colville autograph

A lot of work at every level went into the centennial coinage of 1967; government assigned the right people to implement the contest that would give us the Colville coins and Alex took the assignment very seriously, often refusing to back down when suggestions were made to change a design if he felt it weakened the finished product.  With the public clamouring for the glow-in-the-dark toonie and the coloured 25-cent piece, do you think the same can be said for these Canada 150 issues?  Nevertheless, hopefully they’ll birth a new crop of numismatists.


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