The maple leaf has a long-standing history in Canadian culture, politics, and economics. Throughout the years, it has appeared in magazines and publications, and was even depicted on military badges in the First World War. It was included in King George V’s official Royal Arms of Canada in 1870, and is currently the centerpiece of the national flag of Canada.
The maple leaf also has a rich past with Canadian coinage. In the 1850s, Canadian pennies began to showcase maple leaves. This practice was adopted for all Canadian coins produced from 1876 to 1901. Almost eighty years later, the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin was created by the Royal Canadian Mint to reinforce a sense of national identity.
The Royal Canadian Mint
Before diving further into the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin, it’s worth taking a moment to recognize the organization that created it: Canada’s official mint, The Royal Canadian Mint. The mint itself was founded on January 2, 1908, and has since become an expansive mint in the numismatic industry. Because it is a Crown corporation, it is owned by the Government of Canada and managed by the Royal Canadian Mint Act. The Royal Canadian Mint is responsible for regulating the national coin inventory and provides coins, goods, and other services to customers around the world. It has two locations: Ottawa in Ontario and Winnipeg in Manitoba.
The organization has a clear vision: “To be the best Mint in the world through our customer focus, talented people, commitment to sustainable practices and the value it adds to Canada and Canadians.” Its core values of pride and passion are apparent in its Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin products.
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin Varieties
The Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin first entered the market in 1979 as a 1-ounce coin. It made waves as the second modern bullion coin, and as a new 99.9% pure gold bullion. At that time, the South African Krugerrands were the only pure gold bullion coins being minted at an international level. The Royal Canadian Mint wanted the coin to be fully representative of Canada, so the organization used domestic gold sources from Canadian mines exclusively. They also included inscriptions written in French and English, the national languages of Canada.
In 1983, new technological processes allowed the 99.99% gold purity standard to be adopted. This standard was bested again in 2007 when the Royal Canadian Mint bumped it up yet again to 99.999%. This increase allowed the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin to be regarded as one of the most pure gold coins in the industry. For coin collectors who may need a refresher, these percentages indicate that no other metal alloys were mistakenly added. And while these differences can seem minute, even a tiny discrepancy in purity can change its value.
There are a variety of Canadian Maple Leaf Coins minted by the Royal Canadian Mint available for purchase. While the varieties share some similarities, there are also a number of factors that differentiate the various iterations of the coin. These differences are in accordance with the 1985 Canadian Currency Act and the Royal Canadian Mint Act of 1985. View an outline of the similarities and differences below.
- Purity: 24-karat gold
- Strike: Proof
- Reverse imagery: Walter Ott’s maple leaf design
- Composition: 1 troy oz, 0.5 troy oz, 0.25 troy oz, 0.01 troy oz, 0.005 troy oz
- Weight: 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20 oz and Canadian 1 gram Gold Maplegrams
- Denomination: 50 cent, $1, $5, $10, $20, $50
- Thickness: 2.8 mm, 2.23 mm, 1.7 mm, 1.22 mm, 0.92 mm
- Diameter: 30 mm, 25 mm, 20 mm, 16 mm, 13.9 mm
In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint created the $1 million face value Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin, adding to the previous iterations of Canadian Maple Leaf coin products. This rare collectible also represented the first million dollar coin that was produced anywhere in the world. The masterpiece is made of $2 million worth of gold, and is 100 kg, 99.999% pure gold, and 3,215 troy ounces.
The largest variation across Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins is the imagery on the obverse side. Throughout its history, the coin has been produced with three variations of Queen Elizabeth II. The first version was Arnold Machin’s “39-year-old portrait” that lasted from 1979 to 1989. The second was Dora de Pédery-Hunt’s “64-year-old portrait” from 1990 to 2004. And the third was Susanna Blunt’s “79-year-old portrait” that began in 2005 and is still present today.
Above Her Majesty’s bust, her name is written in an arched font. Below her side profile is the production year and denomination. While these inscriptions and designs were added for aesthetics, they also act as security features.
The Royal Canadian Mint’s Security Features on the Maple Leaf Gold Coin
Security measures on the Maple Leaf Gold Coin help to prevent the circulation of fake replicas. These counterfeits can mislead hobbyists, and potentially damage the reputation of the Royal Canadian Mint. To curb these negative possibilities, two security measures are used: micron-precise tooling and laser micro-engraving.
In the micron-precise tooling process, radial lines are placed starting from the center of the large maple leaf. They extend to the edge of the coin, bringing the viewer’s eyes outward. This is a common security feature on other coins, such as the Buffalo 1 oz Silver Round.
With laser micro-engraving, a minimized textured maple leaf is placed next to each large maple leaf. There is also an abbreviated year of issue placed in each mini maple leaf that is visible under a magnifying glass. This preventative measure can also be found on the 2017 Royal Canadian Mint 1.25 Silver Eagle.
A Note on Alternative Canadian Maple Leaf Coins
Since the 1970s, Canadian Maple Leaf Coins have pushed the industry forward. They seamlessly pay homage to the history of Canada while also trailblazing new features and marks of craftsmanship. On a more granular level, the coin also provides collectors the opportunity to expand their collection with other forms of precious metals.
Click on the corresponding links above to visit Rosland Capital’s website to learn more about each coin.