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May 7th, 2007
The surprise explanation behind the U.S. government's sensational but false warnings about mysterious Canadian spy coins is the harmless "poppy quarter," the world's first colorized coin, The Associated Press has learned.
The odd-looking coins with a bright red flower were so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.
The silver-colored 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy _ Canada's flower of remembrance _ inlaid over a maple leaf. The unorthodox quarter is identical to the coins pictured and described as suspicious in the contractors' accounts.
The supposed nano-technology 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 commemorating Canada's 117,000 war dead.
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