|Lifting a heavy gold bar|
The Ottawa mint makes commemorative coins and medals only; coinage for general distribution is minted in Winnipeg, and the Bank of Canada sees to the paper money. The Royal Mint in Ottawa, until 1931part of the British Mint, is more than 100 years old. It has its own gold refinery.
silver. It takes 300 tons of pressure to cut into a lump of silver. In the basement of the mint, the raw silver is cut into small pieces before being heated in a furnace to 1250ºC. Then it can be rolled flat into silver coils, each weighing 975 lbs. Any leftovers go back into the furnace after trimming. The coil is wound slowly between heavy rollers, then heated once again to 700º so that the strip can be rolled even thinner.
Workers wear goggles, earplugs, hairnets, lab-coats and gloves or finger protectors, depending on their assignment. Tourists are allowed nowhere near the machinery or the coins but can see the activity through the windows of an overhead passage. At the end of each day the workers have to walk through metal detectors before leaving the premises. The Sack and Kiesselbach machines punch out blanks and leftovers are once again recycled, like pastry for mince pies. Then the rimming machine comes into action. With their rims, coins survive for up to 15 years longer than they would without.
technical vocabulary besides. I jotted down: "hobbing the working dies," "the master punch," "the matrix," "photo-etching," but don't really know what any of this means. Regarding the image on a coin, a long process creates it from a plaster positive, to a negative plaster model, to a silicon rubber positive, to a "black magic epoxy negative" (?!) to a brass model.
Some modern coins are coloured with enamel paint; this is applied by hand.
The Australian mint is Ottawa's chief rival, but a quarter of the world's population uses Canadian-minted coins. In the latest version of the Queen's profile on the reverse of Canada's coins (in use from 2003 onwards) she is not wearing a crown or tiara. As the heads of state change from one monarch to another, their heads on the coins face in different directions, except for the brothers George V and George VI who are both facing in the same direction, because George V's reign was so short.
|Diplomats having fun outside the Mint|