by Neil Carleton
There was a crowd waiting on the Mill Street sidewalk, in Almonte, for Alliance Banknote and Coin to open at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 24, 2012. The afternoon open house was the conclusion of a month long penny drive by Alliance owner Sean Isaacs to raise $3,500 for the Almonte General Hospital to purchase a vital signs monitor. Contributing coppers to the campaign was a unique way for area residents to say goodbye to the Canadian penny during this final year of its production.
As the pennies were rolled and boxed by volunteers, a remarkable one ton wall of copper was formed in the front window of the store. Pedestrians along Mill Street have been watching with interest as the wall grew box by box in recent weeks.
During the open house, visitors were treated to refreshments and the fine music of the Zephry Harp Duo. An impressive assortment of coins and banknotes from around the world were available for viewing. Also on display was Dale Dunning’s sculptural creation ‘Waiting For The Penny’. This large, metallic, facial form was constructed of pennies finished with gold foil.
Featured at the open house was an exclusive showing of Copper Royalty, an exhibition of copper coinage from ancient times to more contemporary years. The highlight of the viewing was the Melton Large Cents, a complete collection in superb condition of Canadian large cents from 1858 to 1920. You had to be there to believe it. With an estimated value of $500,000, it’s considered to be the finest such set ever put on public display anywhere in the world. Yes, a uniformed OPP representative was on the premises. The fundraising campaign was a wonderful success. After he spoke about community support for the project, Sean Isaacs presented a cheque for $4,050 to Art Solomonian, Chair of the Almonte General Hospital / Fairview Manor Board. Exceeding the target of $3,500 by 55,000 pennies resulted in the addition of 22 boxes to the wall of copper. The Almonte branch of the Bank of Montreal is arranging for the transportation of the 405,000 pennies.