The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 13, March 27, 2005, Article 26


... or as Maxwell Smart would say, "That's the SECOND
biggest nickel I've ever seen!"

The following is reprinted from the C.N.A. E-Bulletin, an
electronic publication of the Canadian Numismatic
Association (Issue Number 7, March 20, 2005):

About 3 hours north of Toronto on Highway 11 lies the town
of Sudbury. There you will find a number of tourist attractions,
including the Science North complex, a mine tour and the
Canadian Centennial Numismatic Park. The numismatic
highlight of a visit to Sudbury is, without doubt, the Big Nickel.
The other numismatic highlight is the upcoming ONA
Convention being hosted by the Sudbury Coin Club.

A recent issue of the Ontario Numismatist, official publication
of the Ontario Numismatic Association, included the following
history of the Big Nickel Monument:

The Big Nickel was the brainchild of a Sudbury fireman,
Ted Szilva, and artist/sign maker, Bruno Cavallo. The idea
was to develop the coin to celebrate Canada's 1967 centennial.
The centennial committee rejected the submission. Undaunted,
Szilva and Cavalloo formed the Nickel Monument Development
Corporation Ltd. (MDCL) and Szilva coined the phrase Big
Nickel. The NMDX chose the 1951 Canadian five-cent piece
as the model.

The 1951 coin was designed by Canadian artist Steven Trenka.
The coin was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of
the isolation of nickel as an element by Swedish chemist Baron
Axel Frederick Cronstedst in 1751. The coin featured King
George VI on one side and a nickel refinery on the other side.
As Sudbury was the second largest producer of nickel in the
world, it was the perfect choice for the Big Nickel.

The construction project was undertaken in Cavallo's sign
manufacturing workshop in Sudbury. Two vertical columns
and several angle iron pieces make up the framework. The
inside layer is a sheet of metal skin. Plywood is the middle
layer and the outer layer is stainless steel sheet metal.

In May, 1964 the nickel was erected and the Canadian
Centennial Numismatic Park began operations. The nickel
was unveiled at the official opening on July 22, 1964 in
front of 2,500 Sudbury residents and dignitaries.

In 1981, Ted Szilva sold the Big Nickel and the Canadian
Centennial Numismatic Park to Science North (Northern
Ontario's future science centre). Science North considered
dismantling the nickel due to the high cost of maintenance.
But, as the monument was considered a unique, unmistakable
landmark for Sudbury, Science North refurbished the
nickel in 1984 at a cost of $12,000. All other non-mining
related items were removed from the site.

During the week of January 22, 2001, the Big Nickel was
removed from its original base at the Big Nickel Mine in
Sudbury. Dismantled for refurbishing, this was the first time
in almost 40 years that the nickel was absent from
Sudbury's skyline.

In April 2001, the Big Nickel was temporarily relocated
to Science North. It was moved back to its traditional
site on Big Nickel Mine Road at the newly constructed
Dynamic Earth on May 10, 2003.

For the full story and other statistics, go to Full Story

If you want to own a big chunk of the Big Nickel (donation
of $10,000), or just a letter ($2,500) or even a dot ($1,000),
you just have to check out Full Story

If you want to know what other tourist attractions are near
the Big Nickel in Sudbury, Ontario, including tours of an
underground nickel mine, go to Information
about the Sudbury area is indeed timely if you are planning
on attending the ONA Convention. It is the premium
numismatic event taking place in Ontario in 2005 that is
hosted by non-profit clubs.

As a matter of interest, Alan Herbert's Coin Clinic column
in the February 8 issue of Numismatic News included the
following: "What is the biggest coin reproduction known?
I know of at least three candidates, including the big 1953
cent erected at Woodruff, Wis. Somewhat larger is the
30-foot-high 1951 Canadian nickel in the Canadian
Centennial Numismatic Park at Sudbury, Ontario. Both are
dwarfed by the Japanese reproduction of a coin that is
described as being 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter,
laid out on the grounds of a park."

[Can anyone tell us more about the "Northern Centennial
Numismatic Park"? How about some more information
on the Woodruff cent or the Japanese big coin? -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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