RMS Empress of Ireland Coins Start Lost Ships in Canadian Waters Series

by Darrin Lee Unser on May 30, 2014 · 3 comments

Issued as the inaugural strikes in the Royal Canadian Mint’s "Lost Ships in Canadian Waters" series are the 2014 $20 RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Coin and the 2014 50-Cent RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Plated Coin.

2014 RMS Empress of Ireland $20 Silver and 50c Silver Plated Coins

Royal Canadian Mint images of the 2014 RMS Empress of Ireland $20 Silver and 50c Silver Plated Coins

Each features a colored image emblematic of the 100th anniversary of the Empress of Ireland and its loss.

"It was the greatest maritime disaster in Canadian history — a tragedy unparalleled by the loss of life and the speed at which the events unfolded," describes the Royal Canadian Mint. "The sinking of RMS Empress of Ireland made headlines around the world in 1914; sadly, the onset of the First World War would quickly overshadow the events that transpired in the waters near Rimouski, Quebec."

The Norwegian collier Storstad collided with the RMS Empress of Ireland in dense fog in the St. Lawrence River at 1:55 AM on May 29, 1914. Due to the severity of the damage, the Empress sunk just fourteen minutes later at a cost of 1,012 lives with 134 of them children.

Additional information and specifications on the two coins is offered below:

2014 $20 RMS Empress of Ireland Fine Silver Coin

Each 2014 $20 RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Coin is composed of one ounce of 99.99% pure silver. Shown on the reverse is a color image of the RMS Empress of Ireland moments before the accident. The colored design is framed within the coastline of the St. Lawrence seaway with a faint image of the Storstad visible through the fog.

2014 $20 RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Coin

2014 $20 RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Coin

Inscriptions shown on the reverse include CANADA, 2014 and the legal tender face value of 20 DOLLARS. The reverse image was designed by Canadian artist John Horton whose initials appear to the right.

Obverses offer Susanna Blunt’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II along with inscriptions of ELIZABETH II and D G REGINA. An edge inscription reads RMS EMPRESS OF IRELAND and also includes the likeness of the ship’s bell, one of the recovered artifacts from the wreck.

The diameter of this release is 38 mm with a total weight of 31.39 grams.

Maximum mintage is capped at 7,000 with a household order limit of two. Current pricing is CAD $109.95 (~US $100.16).

Each ships in a Royal Canadian Mint clamshell case with a serialized certificate and a custom beauty box.

2014 50c RMS Empress of Ireland 50-Cent Silver Plated Coin

Like the fine silver coin, the 2014 50c RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Plated Coin offers a colored image of the Empress passenger ship. The image was designed by Canadian artist Yves Bérubé and presents the RMS Empress of Ireland sailing along the St. Lawrence River moments before the collision.

2014 50-Cent RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Plated Coin

2014 50-Cent RMS Empress of Ireland Silver Plated Coin

Inscribed around the scene are CANADA, 1914-2014, and the face value of 50 CENTS. The ship’s bell also appears at the top of the design.

This silver-plated copper coin has a matte-proof finish, with a diameter of 42 mm and a weight of 32.82 grams.

Each is encapsulated and presented in a Royal Canadian Mint case. Pricing is listed as CAD $34.95 (~US $31.84). Its mintage is 15,000.

Ordering Details

The Empress of Ireland $20 Silver and 50c Silver Plated Coins may be ordered directly from the Royal Canadian Mint at mint.ca. An affiliate link to the Mint’s new releases is offered right here.

Later, additional coins will be offered in the series with each depicting a different vessel lost in Canadian waters.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kahoola May 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm

The idea is good but silver plated? Silver plated does not have the same cachet as silver. For the price they could have made it pure silver and still turned a significant profit. Plated is the stuff they sell in late night infomercials that are copies of the real stuff. What is wrong with just copper or bronze? Passing on this one.

Simon Bedard May 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm

I bought the silver plated one and I have no complaints or problems.It was a real pity or shame that people lost their lives,but we can share in the knowledge of that history.I did not pass on this one.It part of CANADIAN HISTORY.TITANIC sunk near HALIFAX.

Aberdeen June 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Two beautiful coins – I have the 38 mm, 31.39 gram solid silver (face value $20) coin right in front of me. I love it – see my review on the listing on the mint’s website tomorrow or the next day.
But Kahoola – fret not! There are two coins (and will be for each in the series, I imagine). One, as discussed, is silver-plated copper, a diameter of 42 mm, and a weight of 32.82 gram. That is a large coin, and has a bit of heft to it. I will be ordering one shortly.
However, the other coin is solid silver! Well, they say 99.99% silver, but that is as close to solid silver as anyone will find. Most national mints around the world don’t promise more than 99.9% silver, and often less than that.
So we have a choice! Lower price = silver-platted copper. Much higher price = solid silver.
I will buy both! 😀

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