Coinage Designs of 1951

Early in 1950 the Minister of finance, Douglas Abbott, extended a invitation to artist and sculptors in Canada to submit designs for a new reverse for the five cent coin for issue in 1951. This coin was to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the isolation and naming of the metal Nickel.

Mr. Abbott stated:

"It is particularly appropriate that Canada should thus seek to commemorate this important anniversary in the history of the metal nickel. While it was a Swedish scientist who first succeeded in isolating nickel from its ores, nonetheless during the past fifty years the metal has become predominantly a Canadian metal. Since the beginning of the century, the world has been primarily dependent upon Canada for its supplies of nickel. Today (1950) Canada produces nearly ninety percent of the world’s supply and consumes only about 5 per cent of her own production.

It is because nickel is essentially a Canadian metal that the Canadian Government in 1920 ceased coining of the old silver five cent piece which was inconvenient because of its very small size, and began to coin instead on a large five cent piece out of pure nickel. I do hope that as a result of this competition, one of our Canadian artists or sculptors will be able to provide for us a new and distinctively Canadian design for our nickel coin."

The Board of Judges appointed by the minister to pass on the designs submitted was composed of Mr. W.C. Ronson, Master of the Mint, Chairman of the board, and its members Dr. Charles A. Camsell, former deputy minister of mines and resources; Mr. Jean Chauvin, Montreal, Trustee of the National Gallery of Canada; Dr. W.C. Clark, Deputy minister of finance; Mr. Edouard Fiset, Ottawa; Mr. H.O. McCurry, Director of the National gallery of Canada; Mr. Vincent Massey, Toronto, Chairman of the board of trustees of the national gallery of Canada and of the Royal Commission on National development in the arts, Letters and Sciences; Miss Anne Savage, artist, Montreal; and Mr. G.F. Towers, Governor, Bank of Canada.

The Government offered a prize of one thousand dollars to the artist who submitted the design accepted and upon completion of the plaster model. Four additional prizes of two hundred and fifty dollars each will be given for those receiving honorable mention.

Approximately ten thousand sketches, models and suggestions were received, from which the design submitted by Mr. Stephen Trenka, Thornhill, Ontario, was selected by the board as being most suitable and appropriate.

Mr. Trenka’s design is a representation of a nickel refinery.

Four Canadians who received honorable mention from the board of Judges and awarded prizes of two hundred and fifty dollars each were:

At a ceremony held in the mint on the 18th of December, 1950, the minister of finance struck the first coin of the new design in the presence of Canadian Government officials, representatives of the International Nickel Company of Canada, Limited; Falconbridge Nickel Company, Limited; and a number of invited guests including Mr. Trenka, the designer of the coin.

Coinage Designs of -

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