About the Canadian maple leaf series
The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) is quite possibly the most advanced coin manufacturing facility on the planet. They’ve taken great pains to introduce anti-counterfeiting and security features into their gold and silver maple leaf coins. Both gold and silver maple leafs are minted in 0.9999 pure metal, some ten times more pure than many comparable bullion coins.
Thanks to their advanced features and high purity, Canadian maple leaf coins are among the most recognized and widely-traded precious metal coins on the market.
The Royal Canadian Mint has pioneered a number of advances in minting that both frustrate counterfeiters and give buyers great confidence in their coins. Specifically, the RCM has pioneered the following technologies:
- BullionDNA(™): A proprietary technology jointly developed by the RCM and Arjo Solutions. Essentially, each coin is scanned at a microscopic level and its specific characteristics, as unique as a fingerprint, are added to a central database maintained by the RCM. Any coin dealer with a Bullion DNA scanning device can authenticate a 2014+ gold or 2015+ silver maple leaf in seconds.
- Precisely-machined radial lines: The traditional bullion finish has been replaced with radial lines, precisely machined to within microns. The uniqueness of the line width and pitch create a light-diffracting pattern specific to each coin. Added to all gold and silver maple leaf coins dated 2015+.
- Micro-engraving: A laser-micro-engraved textured maple leaf was added on a small area of the reverse (tails, or maple leaf) side of the coin. In the center of this mark is the numeral denoting the coin's year of issue, which is only visible under magnification. This feature is present on all gold and silver maple leafs minted 2013+.
The Canadian silver maple leaf
In the years since its first mintage in 1988, the Royal Canadian Mint’s silver maple leaf coin has arguably become the most secure silver bullion coin in the world. Its anti-counterfeiting features incorporated into every coin and its “four nines fine” (0.9999) silver purity have made it an incredibly secure and globally popular choice for silver bullion buyers.
The silver maple leaf is nearly always minted in the 1 oz weight. Each is official legal tender in Canada, with a face value of CAD$5.
Historically, some silver maple leaf coins developed a milky-white blemish during minting (this happens when cleaning detergent is left on the coin when it goes into the annealing furnace). These “milk spots” didn’t affect the coin’s value, but they just didn’t look nice. In 2018, the RCM introduced MINTSHIELD, a surface protection technology that prevents these blemishes from appearing.
Larger quantities of silver maple leaf coins are shipped from the RCM in semi-transparent plastic tubes with a yellow cap that contain 25 coins each. Royal Canadian Mint monster boxes of silver maple leafs are usually bright yellow, and contain 20 tubes, or 500 coins each.
The Canadian silver maple leaf coin’s design
The silver maple leaf coin’s obverse (heads) side always displays a profile of Queen Elizabeth II. Depending on the year of issue, three different representations of the Queen have been used:
- 1988 – 1989: Portrait by Arnold Machin
- 1990 – 2003: Portrait by Dora de Pédery-Hunt
- 2004 – Present: Portrait by Susanna Blunt.
The reverse (tails) side of the silver maple leaf doesn’t change (beyond the security features we described above). The classic Walter Ott engraving of an incredibly realistic maple leaf has been featured every year since 1988.
The Canadian maple leaf gold coin
The gold maple leaf was introduced in 1979, becoming the world’s second modern gold bullion coin (and the first to be made of pure gold). At the time, the only competing modern gold coin was the Krugerrand, which wasn’t available worldwide because of economic boycotts of apartheid-era South Africa. The first gold maple leafs were minted in 1 oz weights only.
Then, in 1982, the RCM introduced fractional gold maple leafs in 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz weights. A half-ounce maple leaf joined the family in 1986, a 1/20 oz in 1993 and (a real oddball) a 1/15 oz maple leaf was minted in 1994 only.
Since 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint regularly issues gold maple leaf coins every year in the following weights:
- 1 oz
- 1/2 oz
- 1/4 oz
- 1/10 oz
- 1/20 oz
- 1 gram (or 0.0321507 troy oz to be pedantic)
You’ll almost never see the 1/10 oz and smaller weights for sale, because they’re incredibly popular and affordable to a wider range of collectors.
The design of the Canadian maple leafs
Both gold and silver maple leaf coins share a number of design characteristics (again, separate from the anti-counterfeiting elements listed above). These are:
- A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse
- Also on the obverse, Her Majesty’s title, the coin’s face value and year of mintage
- Walter Ott’s iconic maple leaf design on the reverse (as on platinum and palladium maple leaf coins as well!)
- On the reverse you’ll see CANADA, the coin’s purity (usually 0.9999), FINE GOLD/SILVER, the coin’s weight, followed by the same in French: OR/ARGENT PUR
- Reeded edges
All in all, Canadian maple leaf coins are an outstanding addition to any collection.