The Royal Canadian Mint releases tribute to the original 1939 commemorative Canadian Dollar


12 May 2024
The Royal Canadian Mint has released a new $1 pure silver coin in celebration of the original 1939 commemorative silver dollar and offers a glimpse of the creative process behind the 1939 coin.

Canadian history preserved and made

As well as paying tribute to the history of Canada, the mint is making history by producing this innovative thin 5 oz coin, which features an engraved representation of the original sketch by Emanuel Hahn (1881 – 1957). 

Engravers have painstakingly recreated Hahn’s preliminary ‘Parliament’ art concept using the hand-drawn mock-up of the sketch preserved in the National Currency Collection of the Bank of Canada. 

The sketch shows the partially completed Parliament buildings in Ottawa and includes Hahn’s perspective lines and other preliminary elements, including the Roman-style lettering for the Latin legend 'FIDE SVORVM REGNAT' which translates to ‘He reigns by the faith of his people.’ Every pencil mark, lines around the lettering and fold lines have been recreated on the coin. Instead of using raised relief as is common on coins, the design has been struck into the coin itself to capture the look and feel of a pencil drawing. 

Above: The new thin 5oz coin shows a copy of the preliminary sketch by Emanuel Hahn of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

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This is the first 5oz coin from Canada Mint, which has been struck on a coin blank. This thinner coin contains 5oz of 99.99% pure silver but is 50% larger than a standard 5oz coin, measuring 110mm in diameter which provides more room for the design. 

The original concept for the first $1 coin was prepared to commemorate the 1939 royal tour of Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The effigy of King George VI, by Thomas Humphrey Paget is depicted on the obverse and ties in with the 1939 date on the reverse of the coin. 

Above: The observe shows an effigy of King George VI by Thomas Humphrey Paget

Related article: Canada coins - Royal Generations

Who was Emanuel Hahn?

Emanuel Hahn was a German born Canadian sculptor and coin designer, who, after the First World War gained fame for his war memorial designs. He left an indelible mark on Canada’s coins and his Bluenose (10 cents) and caribou (25 cents) designs are still in circulation today. The 1939 commemorative silver dollar was the second commemorative silver dollar designed by Hahn as he’d previously designed the 1935 silver dollar commemorating the Jubilee of King George V featuring the Voyageur design, which shows a fur-trapper from the Hudson’s Bay Company and a First Nations man in a canoe with the Northern Lights in the background.