In the 1800’s, when aeroplanes were a mere twinkle in the eye of ambitious engineers, the idea of transatlantic flight came about with the advent of the hot air balloon. But one crash-landing, and one postponement due to the American Civil War meant this dream had to go back to the drawing board.
On the other side of the pond, in April of 1913 The Daily Mail newspaper offered a cash prize of £10,000 to “the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland and any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours”.
But it wasn’t until after the end of WWII that transatlantic flight by aircraft became truly viable, thanks to the significant advancements in aerial capabilities and technology.
Then the competition really heated up…
Nail-biting four-way competition
What came was a nail-biting four-way contest against the clock as well as each other. Four different ‘teams’ formed and went to work to try and prepare their chosen aircraft the fastest, for fear of being pipped to the post by another team making their attempt sooner. To make it a fair contest, each team had to ship their aircraft to Newfoundland for the take-off.
First to try was Australian pilot Harry Hawker and navigator Kenneth Mackenzie Grieve, piloting a Sopwith Atlantic – an experimental British long-range aircraft. In flight the aircraft suffered from engine failure and, when coupled with poor weather conditions, the decision was made to abort the mission.
The aircraft was abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean, 750 miles from Ireland, and the pair were rescued by a Danish steamer SS Mary. Due to the SS Mary not having any radio contact, the pair were presumed dead and King George V sent a telegram of condolence, but luckily this wasn’t the case as the pair arrived back on land nearly a week later.
The next attempt wasn’t nearly as exciting, as the aircraft never left the take-off zone. Frederick Raynham and C. W. F. Morgan made the attempt in a Martinsyde but crashed on take-off due to the heavy fuel load.
Then came the turn of aviator duo, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, who flew straight into the history books on June 15th 1919…
Flying in to the unknown across the Atlantic
The Vickers engineering and aviation firm, which had considered entering its Vickers Vimy IV twin-engine bomber in the competition, appointed Alcock as the team’s pilot along with Brown who was adept at long-distance navigation.
In preparation for the transatlantic flight, The Vimy, powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle 360 hp engines, was successfully converted, including replacing its bomb racks with extra petrol tanks.
The pair took off from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in their modified bomber around 1:45pm on 14th June 1919. To say it wasn’t an easy flight would be an understatement. They encountered both mechanical and natural challenges. The wind-powered generator failed, depriving them of radio contact and much needed heating in their open-top cockpit. Fog and a snowstorm prevented navigation, almost resulting in a crash-landing at sea, not to mention the snow and freezing conditions meant the engines were in danger of icing up.
Whilst they were set a 72-hour target by The Daily Mail, the duo made landfall in Clifden, County Galway, in Ireland at 8:40am on 15th June 1919 – after just 16 hours of flight!
Incredibly, they landed not far from their intended landing zone in Ireland. However, the aircraft was damaged upon arrival because what looked like a field from their aerial view turned out to be a bog, causing the aircraft to nose-over. Thankfully neither were hurt, and Brown claimed that if the weather had been good, they’d have been able to continue to London.
A hero’s return to a £10,000 reward
Alcock and Brown’s successful attempt meant that the fourth team, Handley Page Limited, who were yet to take-off, were no longer eligible to compete. The two airmen returned home as aviation heroes and pioneers of the sky.
As promised, Alcock and Brown were rewarded for their ground-breaking achievement – the £10,000 prize money offered by The Daily Mail, for the first crossing of the Atlantic in less than 72 consecutive hours.
The Secretary of State for Air at the time, Winston Churchill, presented the pair with their cash reward. Then one week later, at Windsor Castle, they were awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by King George V.
If you’re interested…
The Royal Canadian Mint marked the milestone 100th anniversary of this remarkable achievement and feat of engineering with a limited edition 1oz Silver Proof coin. The coin features a faithful colour reproduction of the commemorative stamp that was issued to mark the 50th anniversary.
Unsurprisingly the coin proved so popular that it is no longer available at the Mint! We have a limited number remaining, click here for more information >>
When I think of Canada several things spring to mind: the iconic maple leaf, the caribou and beaver, ice hockey and Celine Dion, just to name a few. But at the top of my list is without a doubt the Royal Canadian Mint.
As one of the three ‘Royal’ Mints in the world – alongside The Royal Mint here in the UK and the Royal Australian Mint – they are known for their innovation and impressive minting techniques, resulting in some of the most magnificent issues I’ve ever seen.
So to celebrate Canada Day, I’ve rounded-up my top five favorite Canadian releases, each demonstrating why they are one of the most prestigious mints in the world. Believe me, some of these issues are truly incredible!
Take a look for yourself…
The R&D Security Test Token Set
It will come as no surprise to know that the Royal Canadian Mint is the market leader in numismatic security.
The R&D Test Token set offers us a glimpse at never-before-seen minting techniques which will shape our future coins, and are sure to impress even the most seasoned coin collectors.
Included are six specimen tokens with high-tech design elements showcasing fascinating examples of tri-metal technology and micro-text. What’s more, each token included in the set is a real life trial piece which has been used in laboratory testing. So each set is completely unique – no two will be the same! Click here to find out more >>
Lest We Forget Silver Helmet-Shaped Coin
This issue truly is one of a kind. The minting expertise required to strike such an impressive coin is astounding – I’ve never seen a coin like it.
Not only is it struck from the Mint’s signature .9999 Pure Silver, but it’s an incredible miniature replica of the steel Brodie helmets worn by British and Commonwealth forces during the First World War.
How the Mint achieved this result I will never know – it remains a closely guarded secret. There are even engraved cracks and markings you would find on an original helmet. The final antique finish gives an authentic distressed look, the fine detail is incredible. Click here to find out more >>
Pure Silver D-Day Coin
The first step in to battle takes incredible courage, and this year to mark the landmark 75th anniversary of D-Day the Royal Canadian Mint issued perhaps the most poignant D-Day commemorative yet.
This stunning issue perfectly captures the moment Canadian soldiers set foot on Juno Beach. It is expertly struck from a quarter ounce of .9999 Pure Silver – or “four nines Silver”, the purest grade available for which the Mint is known – and has an innovative reverse proof finish which replicates the texture of the sand. Click here to find out more >>
3D Monarch Caterpillar Coin
Some of nature’s most beautiful things come in small packages. And this remarkable issue is no different.
The Monarch Caterpillar Pure 1oz Silver Coin is a perfect combination of Italian craftsmanship and Canadian design. It features a stunning 3D Monarch Caterpillar handcrafted from Murano glass, poised upon the selectively coloured design of a swamp milkweed plant leaf.
The combined traditional engraving, colour and Murano glass creates a truly unforgettable piece. Click here to find out more >>
John Lennon Silver 1oz Coin
It’s hard to believe that just 50 years ago, John Lennon and Yoko Ono conducted their “Bed-in for Peace” protest against the Vietnam War and debuted the most famous anti-war anthem of all time – Give Peace a Chance.
It was a moment that has forever cemented a bond between John Lennon and Canada. A bond that is marked by the release of this limited edition John Lennon commemorative.
Using bespoke printing technology the coin features a photographic image of John and Yoko during their protest and is struck from 1oz Pure Silver to a mirror-like proof finish.
But that’s not all! There’s plenty of other fantastic coins that have been issued by the Royal Canadian Mint. You can take a look at the full range by clicking here >>
It is always exciting to see new, innovative products coming out of the numismatic industry, and there is nothing quite like the test token set issued by the Royal Canadian Mint’s Research and Development lab. When you see this set it’s no surprise that the Royal Canadian Mint is a market leader in security. Looking to be at the forefront of new minting technologies this latest collection showcases some never before seen minting techniques which are guaranteed to impress both seasoned and budding collectors alike.
So what exactly is a ‘test token’ I hear you ask? A test token is a prototype of next generation currency, and is created purely to test new technologies and minting techniques before giving the green light to produce future coins with the technology. Since the tokens are test pieces their designs and technologies will not necessarily be replicated in future currency, perhaps only some of the techniques or designs will be taken forward,so the test pieces are one of a kind.
Chief Technology Officer at the Royal Canadian Mint, Dr Xianyao Li, says “the products in our R&D Lab Collection are tried,tested and true examples of forward-thinking technology that could re-define the future of domestic and foreign coins.”
Now we’re suitably intrigued about the new technologies featured in the set, let’s take a closer look at the tokens…
At first glance this perhaps looks to be the most unassuming token of the set, but looks can be deceiving as this token is an example of the advances currently being made in coin production to prevent counterfeiting. If you inspect the surface of the coin closely you will notice it resembles a pie-chart, with the surface subtly split up in to segments which are only just distinguishable. The slices are differentiated by the orientation and size of micro text which varies between segments. Micro text is one of the advancements in minting technology which has emerged in the last few years with the aim of preventing counterfeit coins, as the tiny text is difficult to replicate. Not only is the text extremely difficult to reproduce, it is also virtually indiscernible to the naked eye!
Caribou and Moose
The Caribou and the Moose instantly spring to mind when contemplating iconic Canadian imagery, so it would seem only natural they make an appearance in this set. Each token is crafted from multi-ply plated steel and includes both raised and incused maple leaf designs, instantly creating a noticeably three-dimensional textured surface. The depictions of the creatures on each coin have micro text hidden in their fur as an added security feature, and the maple leaf above the shoulder of each creature is also composed of micro text.
The maple leaf is synonymous with Canada and is instantly recognisable as one of its national symbols dating back to the 18th century. Considering this it is unsurprising then that The Royal Canadian Mint also uses this iconic leaf as its logo, creating a strong identity link between country and coinage. Two pieces in the set celebrate the maple leaf with both sides of the tokens featuring raised and incused leaves in a circular pattern with the Royal Canadian Mint’s logo at the centre. The combination of raised and stamped elements create a unique texture on the token which adds an extra layer of security because forgers will struggle to perfectly mimic it in counterfeits.
The clue is in the title with this one, as it has been produced from a Canadian patented tri-metal compound, consisting of a carefully balanced combination of multi-ply plated steel, brass plated steel, nickel plated steel and copper plated steel. Complex multi-metal compound technology is a security feature to prevent counterfeiting as the exact compound composition is patented and unknown so cannot be easily recreated in a replica.
Own a piece of history in the making
What makes this test token set truly remarkable is the fact that pieces included in the set are the real trial pieces which have been used in calibration and laboratory testing, so each one has been tried and tested making the collection truly unique – no two will be the same!
If you’re interested…
You can now own a piece of numismatic history in the making as we have secured 149 of these unique sets from the Royal Canadian Mint. Be ahead of the curve and add this sneak peek at the next generation of coinage to your collection today!