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Occasional news related to my natural science illustrations


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Two new coin designs featuring Canadian icons: Maple leaves and Beaver

The Royal Canadian Mint recently released two silver collector coins engraved with my illustration of a bouquet of maple leaves and of a swimming beaver.

The former, which shows a hand holding leaves of three species of maple in autumn color, is part of the Mint’s 2013 O Canada series and is the only colored coin in that series:

1/2 oz. Fine Silver Coin - Maple Leaf (2013) - designed by Emily S. Damstra

1/2 oz. Fine Silver Coin – Maple Leaf (2013) – designed by Emily S. Damstra

The swimming beaver coin is the Mint’s second 5 oz. beaver coin; you can see the first here. I like designing for such a large coin (65 mm) because it allows me to tell a more detailed story about the subject. In this case, I chose to illustrate an aspect of the beaver’s life that I find especially interesting: The beaver is bringing an aspen branch down to the bottom of its pond to store it in advance of winter. The reason a beaver constructs dams is to create a pond deep enough that it won’t completely freeze in the winter, allowing the beaver safe and easy access to food the animal has cached.

5 oz. Fine Silver Coin - Swimming Beaver - designed by Emily S. Damstra

5 oz. Fine Silver Coin – Swimming Beaver – designed by Emily S. Damstra

I really like how the Mint used different finishes on this coin to make the foreground elements contrast with the background (though it’s a bit hard to tell from my mediocre photograph of the coin).

This is my 5th numismatic design that includes a water line with elements of the illustration above and below water. (The others are the Memphré, Mishepishu, a Polar Bear, and an Iceberg with whales). I didn’t plan to create a body of work with that element in common – it just happened that way! I suppose I find the water line to be a useful device for telling a story, creating an interesting composition, and showing a unique perspective.

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