Canada’s mint has never been afraid to get a little playful. Coins that are coloured, holographic and irregularly shaped (not to mention the headline-grabbing million-dollar coin) can all be found among the Mint’s collectible sets, and sometimes even in circulation.
So it should come as no surprise that this playfulness should be extended to the images on the coins as well. Now, illustrator Gary Taxali has created a collection of six quarters for the Royal Canadian Mint’s gift sets, thematically linked to special dates throughout the year. The Mint has commissioned well-known Canadian artists before (think of Alex Colville’s iconic set of animals for the 1967 Centennial), but none as whimsical as Taxali.
Taxali’s mixed-media illustrations have been commissioned for album, book, and magazine covers by everyone from musician Aimee Mann to Newsweek. They frequently portray cartoonish people and creatures in situations ranging from the surreal to the quirky (like a label for Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Sangiovese vintage featuring a suited man licking ice cream off the ground). They’re also instantly recognizable by their timelessly retro aesthetic.
For the Royal Mint, Taxali’s designs include “Birthday” (a floating cupcake); “Wedding” (two linked, smiling wedding bands); “New Baby” (a nursery mobile with a distinctly Taxalian menagerie); and the yet-to-be-unveiled “Holiday.” Notably, the text on the reverse of each quarter, which reads only “25 cents/2012 Canada,” is written in Taxali’s signature Chumply font, marking the first time the Mint has allowed an artist to alter a coin’s typeface.
Taxali’s coins are available while supplies last, and can be found online at mint.ca, in the Mint’s boutiques, or in participating dealers and Canada Post outlets.