2019 HALF-OUNCE PURE SILVER COIN – YEAR OF THE PIG
The Chinese zodiac says people born in the Year of the Pig have beautiful personalities: playful, optimistic and carefree. They are energetic and tackle even the most mundane tasks with unbridled enthusiasm. These traits come alive in the 2019 issues of the Royal Canadian Mint’s three series celebrating the Lunar New Year—especially the half-ounce pure silver Year of the Pig coin.
For Mint Product Manager Uyen Vo, the chance to work on this coin held special meaning. In the Chinese zodiac, which is based on a 12-year lunar cycle, each year is represented by a specific animal. People born in a particular year are said to share the traits and fortunes of their associated animal sign. Born in the Year of the Pig herself, Vo was keen to present a coin that would truly convey the Pig’s personality—and her own. And like the irrepressible Pig, she was undaunted by the task of creating a distinctive design for the half-ounce pure silver coin that would blend seamlessly with the other coins in the series, which has been ongoing since 2010.
“Many people will display the whole series together, so it has to look like a cohesive set,” says Vo. “What makes it fun is the challenge of figuring out how to do that while still putting your own spin on it.”
Working closely with artist Simon Ng, Vo proposed a playful image of a pig trotting merrily—dancing, even—along the reverse of this year’s coin. Most importantly for Vo, the pig is smiling.
“It can be hard to show an animal smiling,” she says, noting that previous designs have presented the animals of the Chinese zodiac in a more naturalistic style. “But the Pig’s personality is so happy-go-lucky. I really wanted to show that emotion.”
Ng’s pig is embellished with stylized depictions of the lucky flowers for those born in the Year of the Pig—hydrangeas and daisies—in a nod to the Blue Willow china-inspired designs found on last year’s Year of the Dog coin. The coin also features the Chinese character for “pig” and traditional Chinese latticework. Vo says these additional elements were essential to tie the design into the Lunar New Year, observed by many Asian cultures.
“A dancing pig is cute,” she notes, “but it needs the other elements to really evoke the Asian culture we’re trying to convey.”
CELEBRATING CANADIAN DIVERSITY
Through its coins, the Mint pays tribute to Canada’s history, culture and values. Vo believes celebrating Asian culture is directly relevant to that responsibility, noting that Canadian culture is extremely diverse—and Canada’s Asian community is a huge part of it.
In addition to this silver half-ounce coin series, the Mint also offers two other series of Lunar coins, each designed as a complete set and released annually in both silver and gold. One series, designed by Aries Cheung, features stylized depictions that capture the character of each animal in the Chinese zodiac, along with complementary meteorological elements. Cheung’s Year of the Pig design incorporates swirls that call to mind a curly tail and a raincloud showing that even rain can’t dampen the Pig’s cheerful spirit. Three Degrees Creative designed the Lunar Lotus series, with a scalloped edge inspired by a lotus blossom. Each coin features a detailed rendering of that year’s animal surrounded by its lucky flowers.
Multiple variations on the Lunar New Year theme mean there’s a Year of the Pig coin for every collector. Some may appreciate the consistency of having every coin come from a single designer, while others may admire the different perspectives offered by different artists.
With two more designs to come in the current Lunar series, Vo says the product development team will soon start to think about where to go next after the cycle is complete. Like many of the Mint’s previous Asian-inspired coins, the Lunar series have been very well-received among Canadians and international collectors—and Vo can’t wait to see what’s next.