Last week we looked at Canada’s first Olympic games in Montreal, and the huge output of coins produced. This week we move forward to the 1988 Calgary winter games.
In 1985 the Royal Canadian Mint embarked on a 10 coin set for the XV Olympic winter games. The series, issued over 3 years consisted of $20 silver coins that each contain roughly one troy ounce of silver (they were produced in .925 silver and weigh about 34 grams). The issue price began at $37 per coins, and the issue price was raised each year until the it peaked at $42. Approximately 300,000 of each coin were produced…much less than during the Montreal Olympics. Unlike the Montreal coins a decade earlier, these were only available in a proof (white frosty) finish.
Each coin has an image of an Olympic event including downhill skiing, hockey, biathlon, etc. on the reverse, and the bust of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. The edges were inscribed “XV OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES – JEUX OLYMPIQUES”
Interestingly on 4 of the coins including speed skating, hockey, biathlon, and free-style skiing there exists a variety where the mint accidentally omitted to put lettering on the edges…these sell for $100 – $200 retail, and are quite difficult to find.
Also produced for the games in 1987 was a $100 14k gold coin (pictured here with the article). The coin contains roughly ¼ of a troy ounce of gold, and this was a major change for the $100 gold series, as all coin since 1977 were produced in 22k and contained twice as much gold. The mintage was 145,175. To put this in perspective only 76,255 $100 gold coins were produced the previous year, and only 52,239 coin were produced in 1988…so a rather high mintage indeed (for more perspective; the 2005 to date $100 gold coin mintages are about 5,000 coins each) . The reverse has an image of the Olympic Torch with a stylized flame forming an image of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Like the silver coins it has inscribed edges. No variety (to my knowledge) has been discovered missing this edge lettering.
Fortunately for those who want to obtain a silver 10 coin Calgary set, they are currently rather inexpensive, and can be found for much less than the issue price. Since they have about $18 worth of silver inside them, if you can buy them at or near face value, they become in interesting way to invest in silver…as your downside is limited to the $20 face value (if banks continue to agree to redeem them at face). The gold coin, over 20 years later, can still be obtained for close to the $255 issue price (it fluctuates with the price of gold).
An important point for those collectors / investors out there who are thinking about “investing” in whatever current Olympic series is out…Usually Olympic coins have mintages much higher than other issues. This is because they are purchased not only by coin collectors, but also by souvenir seekers, and buyers in other countries. As a result, when the hype of the games fade, so do interest in the coins, and because they are produced in such high numbers this almost always means a decline in price. If you want to purchase the current series for yourself, do it as a souvenir, gift, memento, or patriotic gesture, do not consider it a great financial investment.
Michael Joffre is owner of
Carsley Whetstone & Company
Inc. a firm that buys and sells
rare coins and related collectables.
He is always interested in
buying older coin collections, including Olympic coins.
CWC also carries a full line of
books and collecting supplies,
available in stock in their retail
store. Michael can be reached
at 514-289-9761, or at
firstname.lastname@example.org. For more
information please visit