The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 32, August 3, 2014, Article 6


And speaking of Canada, Jeff Fournier submitted this review of a book on a fun and unusual numismatic topic that we've covered before in The E-Sylum - The Big Nickel, a giant sculpture of a Canadian five-cent piece. -Editor

The Big Nickel New Book Tells the “Untold Story” of Sudbury’s Big Nickel

The Big Nickel - a giant 30 foot replica of the Canadian 1951 commemorative 5 cent piece, towers over the City of Greater Sudbury from its home at Dynamic Earth. It is truly a sight to behold.

The iconic giant recently turned 50 and as part of the celebrations, Ted Szilva – the creator of the Big Nickel, has released a book - “The Big Nickel: The Untold Story”. It is a complete account of his dream and the obstacles he overcame to create the Big Nickel and the world’s first and only numismatic park. It is a story that - like the Big Nickel itself - is larger than life. The book covers the conception, construction and operation of The Big Nickel in the world’s first Numismatic Park.

BigPennyMemorial BigNickelMonument
The Big Penny and The Big Nickel

Ted’s son, Jim, co-authored the book, which was released in Sudbury on June 26 at an impressive book launch held at Dynamic Earth’s Atlas Copco Theatre.

The first part of the book covers Ted’s life as he grows up in Sudbury during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Following Ted’s stories from his choice of careers, his marriage to wife Betty and the birth of their five children, the book moves on to discuss the obstacles Ted had to overcome to finally get the Big Nickel project off the ground until the eventual sale of the Big Nickel in the early 80’s.

Ted takes over at this point after the story of the opening of the Big Nickel on July 22, 1964. The story becomes very personal as Ted talks about the many individuals who worked with and inspired him and of the many projects and community organizations that Ted initiated and worked on throughout the years.

The book contains dozens of photos of Ted’s family and friends and offers a pictorial timeline of the construction and operation of the Canadian Centennial Numismatic Park – home of the Big Nickel.

Medallions Help Fund Park

One of the more fascinating stories in the book takes place shortly after Ted had signed the papers for the 17 acres of land where he would build his park. He met up with a travelling salesman named Rod Smith who was a shoe salesman who also represented the Wellings Manufacturing Company in Toronto. The company had begun making a name for itself by designing and producing commemorative medallions which they’d sold to collectors who had caught the coin collecting bug (which was quite the contagion in the 1960’s!)

Rod agreed to pay for the dies to be used for a medal that would commemorate what was soon to be the Canadian Centennial Numismatic Park. He even agreed to advance Ted the money for the first 500 medallions.

Ted set up the Nickel Monument Development Corporation so that he could begin selling the medallions. The first 500 medallions that had been financed by Smith were easily pre-sold. Silva ordered another 1000. These were displayed at a local store and sold out within an hour.

BigPenny BigNickelReplicaRev
Souvenir Big Penny and Big Nickel medals

As a result of publicity from numerous coin publications, orders poured in from around the world and thousands of dollars in revenue from the medallion sales were generated.

“As Smith had predicted, (the medallion sales were) very profitable. The medallions cost 35 cents to produce and they sold for $1.25. Ted then realized why Smith was more than happy to front the money for the dies.”

KennedyMemorialObv KennedyCoinMemorial
Kennedy Medal and Big Kennedy Half

Anyone interested in reading a unique part of Canada’s history, or who is interested in learning more about the Canadian Centennial Numismatic Park and the world famous Big Nickel, should definitely pick up this book – it is a fascinating read.

Books may be purchased in Sudbury at Science North, Dynamic Earth (home of the Big Nickel) or at A&J Home Hardware on Bouchard Street. Copies may also be purchased on-line through the website which contains more history, photos and newspaper clippings of the Big Nickel. Visit

Also at this website, visitors are given the opportunity to download my 1995 book about the medals and tokens of Sudbury entitled “Sudbury Numismatics” – free to all - in pdf format.

I will also be bringing some signed copies of the Szilva’s new book to the RCNA convention for anyone interested in purchasing a copy there.

Jeff Fournier
1205 Fisher St.
P.O. 22004
North Bay, Ont., P1B 9P5

To read the complete article, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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