Marco Polo Project Saint John New Brunswick

Mock Coin of Marco PoloBluenose Dime
Mint marks Marco Polo Anniversary with Coin

Times Globe staff writer

   No offence to Nova Scotian shipbuilders, but the Marco Polo is worth 200 of their Bluenoses.
   Or it will be on April 17, when the Royal Canadian Mint launches a commemorative coin honouring the Saint John-built ship that was the world's fastest when it was launched in 1851.
   The $20 sterling silver coin will be adorned with a hologram, but the, exact design will remain a secret until the coin is unveiled in Saint John on April 17, the 150th anniversary of the launch of the world's fastest sailing ship, said Pierre Morin, a communications advisor for the mint.
    "You're going to have to wait until the 17th, but if we're going to launch a coin that commemoratives the anniversary of the -Marco, Polo, you can well imagine that there will be some sort of representation of the ship on it. "
   For Marco Polo enthusiast Barry Ogden, the announcement is a long time coming - 14 years, to be precise.
    "April 17 is going to be a great day. I think it's going to- be a great day for New Brunswick and for Saint John. I don't know of any other coin from our area - ever. "
    The announcement nearly completes Mr. Ogden's dream of everything Marco Polo, The list of Marco Polo projects also includes a stamp, a film, a book, a Web site, a musical suite, a monument, and a musical. The only thing missing is the replica.
   While there are no solid plans to build a replica - sailable or otherwise Mr. Ogden believes it will happen some day. He's also disappointed that it hasn't yet.
   "It's almost like we're living in a community of missed opportunities," he said in an interview.
    "If this was any other community – any other community in the world – we'd be looking at a replica of the Marco Polo today. That's what frustrates people in Saint John. Things just don't happen here. "
    As an example, he said, the 150th anniversary of the launch of the world's fastest sailing ship will only be commemorated by the launch of the coin. "The coin is it. "
   Mr. Ogden had tried to convince the Mint to issue the coin last year, which was the 150th anniversary of the laying of the ship's keel at James Smith's Marsh Creek yard in 1850.
   Despite several thousand letters and signatures, the Mint people didn't buy the idea. Obviously, they preferred this year's anniversary.
   Officials from the Royal Canadian Mint will be in Saint John on April 17 for the unveiling. Although it's not a public event, 500 guests will be invited to take a first look at the coin.
   The Marco Polo coin is part of the Mint's on-going Land, Sea, and Rail series. While hologram cameos on coins are not new - the first ones were released last year - the Royal Canadian Mint was the first mint in the world to use them.