In his drawing for the ten-cent coin (left), Colville beautifully captures the sleek, vertically striped body of the mackerel. Elaborating on his choice of subject, the artist says, “Being the smallest coin, this requires a simple and unambiguous image. I used the mackerel, one of the most beautiful and streamlined fish, common on both coasts. The fish has ancient religious implications; I think of it as a symbol of continuity.” As the ten-cent coin (right) shows, the minting process preserved most of the details in Colville’s drawing. Once his designs for the six centennial coins were finalized, Colville made low-relief sculptures (in clay or some form of plasticine) that were then used to create the dies from which the coins would eventually be minted. For this stage of the project, his former role as a sculpture instructor at Mount Allison University from 1946 until 1963 was critical.
Alex Colville’s Centennial Coins
Alex Colville, Drawing for 10 cent coin, 1965
White paint, ink, and pencil on brown card, 30.4 x 22.8 cm, Estate of Alex Colville.
Centennial Coin, Alex Colville, 10 cents, Canada, 1967
Silver and copper. ID 1967.0040.00013 © National Currency Collection, Bank of Canada Museum.