Canadian ‘poppy quarter’ not a spy coin


The “poppy quarter,” a red coin from Canada, gave the U.S. government quite a scare. Adorned with a bright red flower, the coins were so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada a few years ago that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The concerned contractors said the coins were “filled with something man-made that looked like nanotechnology,” according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the Associated Press.

The supposed nanotechnology actually was a conventional protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy’s red color from rubbing off. The mint produced nearly 30 million such quarters in 2004 to commemorate Canada’s 117,000 war dead.