The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins have an iconic design. The front features the right profile view of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse side has an engraving of the maple leaf—Canada’s cultural symbol and national identity.
Royal Canadian Mint has been producing gold Maple Leaf coins since 1979. Not to mention, the Mint carries out the production at the behest of the government of Canada.
The United States guarantees American Eagles’ gold content, weight and purity. For this reason, American Eagle gold coins can easily be bought and sold almost anywhere in the world, making these coins among the most commonly traded gold bullion coins in the world.
About Gold coins
Canada is the second largest country in the world, total area-wise. The North American country also has the highest French population outside France. Although the land is borderline inhabitable towards its north and west, it is one of the most developed countries in the world and has abundant natural resources.
If you’re into investing, mainly gold coins and bars, you should have known about the Royal Canadian Mint and the iconic maple leaf coins it churns out annually. The coin is one of the purest gold coins in the world. It’s older than the American Eagle and Vienna Philharmonic coins. If you’re considering putting some money into gold but are unfamiliar with the Canadian Maple Leaf gold coins, this is the time to know better.
In this write-up, we take a look at:
- The overview and history of the coin
- Its various sizes, specifications, and special editions
- The coin’s design and significance
- Reasons why the coin is investment-friendly
- The coin’s value and market-friendliness
- Answers to some frequently asked questions and much more.
Canada has no dearth of precious metal coins. But the Maple Leaf no doubt stands out for its pedigree, design, quality, and several other aspects. Keep reading for a complete lowdown on the coin.
About the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin
The Canadian Maple Leaf coin is Canada’s state-authorized gold bullion coin. The Royal Canadian Mint mints the pure gold coin under the ambit of the state. The Canadian government guarantees the coin’s weight, purity, etc. Issued in 1979, the coin is the first pure gold coin of its kind. It won’t be incorrect to say the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin paved the way for other fine gold coins.
The gold Maple Leaf coin catered to the demand for pure gold bullion coins when coins made of 24-karat gold were not a thing. During the 1970s, the South African Krugerrand gold coin was top-rated among coin collectors and investors. The gold Krugerrand, however, wasn’t pure gold, leaving a sizable section of the investing community longing for a pure gold bullion coin. With the gold Canadian Maple Leaf launch, that cohort was duly entertained.
The Maple Leaf coin is legal tender or accepted in all private and public transactions in Canada. The coins, therefore, have face values. The superficial value, however, does not reflect the bullion’s much higher intrinsic value. We’ve discussed the coin’s face and inherent values in more detail later in the article.
A Brief History About the Maple Leaf Coin
Although gold Maple Leaf coins were first released in 1979, discussions about making the coin began in 1977. The goal was to create demand for the gold mined in Canada and compete with the Krugerrand. To the uninitiated, Canada is a land of rich natural resources. As of 2020, Canada is the fifth largest gold mining country.
Initially, the plan was to trial-mint the coin for three years. During the period, five million gold Maple Leaf coins were produced. In 1979, one million coins were made. Two million coins were made in 1980 and then in 1981 each, taking the total to five million. Although the vision was to make the Maple Leaf coins a global coin, the first four million coins were distributed to the American and European markets. Seeing the strong reception, the currency entered continual production.
Coin Size Specifications and Special Editions
The Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin is issued in the following sizes: 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, and 1/20 oz. The Royal Canadian Mint minted a 1/15 oz gold coin with a $2 face value. The currency didn’t gain much traction, and its minting was stopped within a year, as a result.
Being a historic coin, the Maple Leaf has had its fair share of special editions. In 2007, the Canadian Mint released the Big Maple Leaf.
The humungous coin weighed 220 pounds (3,215 t. oz. 100 kg.). The currency had a face value of C$1 million, with its actual value being around C$3.5 million. Only six of the coins were minted during the year of its production. The coin measures 50 cm diametrically and is 2.8 cm thick. At the time, the Big Maple Leaf was the largest million-dollar coin.
In 2018, the Royal Canadian Mint released a 3D version of the 1 oz coin. Unlike the regular 1 oz coin, its face value was set at C$200. Only 375 unique coins were made, gaining good traction among potential buyers. Other special edition coins include the coin released in 1997 to commemorate the RCMP’s (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) 125th anniversary and Maple Leaf’s 20th-anniversary coin.
Why Invest in the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin?
You cannot discount the Canadian Maple Leaf if you want to buy the best pure gold bullion coin. Its fine gold makeup lends it significant intrinsic value.
Most importantly, the currency is one of the official Canadian gold coins, which means its fully insured by the state. The government’s backing for a pure gold coin should be reason enough to invest in the coin.
The coin is highly desirable among investors and coin collectors alike for its purity, design, and impeccable finishing. The coin’s gold IRA-eligible too, which lends more to its popularity. The coin’s visibility and industry-wide recognition translate to increased liquidity. If you’re looking to sell the gold coin, you’d not be hard-pressed to find a potential buyer.
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin Design
The Canadian Maple Leaf coin’s design is iconic, thanks to Walter Ott., the coin’s original designer. The coin’s front or obverse side features Queen Elizabeth II’s right-profile shot. The queen’s name is inscribed at the top, and the bottom denotes the coin’s face value and year of production.
Do note that the front effigy of Queen Elizabeth II has had its iterations. An artist named Susanna Blunt helped refine the image of the Queen in the wake of the status quo. She designed a right-profile picture of the Queen without the crown.
The artist also altered the Queen’s image to reflect her age for the time. The coins minted between 1979 and 1989 depicted a 39-year-old Queen. The coins made between 1990 and 2004 showcased her 64-year-old mien. Starting in 2005 and to date, the queen’s depicted to look like her 79-year-old self.
On the reverse or back side is a center-positioned image of a maple leaf. The term “CANADA” is inscribed at the top. On the bottom left is the text “FINE GOLD.” The coin’s denomination and purity details are engraved in the bottom right.
In 2013, a textured laser micro-engraved maple leaf was featured under the central leaf. In the tiny leaf’s center is the numeral denoting the coin's year of issue, which isn’t visible to the naked eye or requires a magnifying lens to view. In 2015, the Mint added radial lines to the background on the coin’s front and reverse sides.
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin Metal Contents
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins are 24-karat pure gold coins. It’s 0.9999 on the fineness scale. The Mint made some special issues to be 0.99999 pure. The Maple Leaf coins produced between 1979 and 1982 were 0.999 pure, making them the most refined of their kind then. Starting in 1982 and since then, the coin’s purity has increased to 0.9999. In short, all Maple Leaf gold coins produced since 1982 are 99.99 percent pure gold. Not to mention, the coins are made using pure gold blanks.
Special Olympic Coin
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the Royal Canadian Mint joined hands in 2007 to create unique Olympic Maple Leaf coins in gold and silver. RCM struck bullion coins with the 2010 Paralympic and Winter Olympic Games as per the agreement. Both the gold and silver coins had 2008 as their minting date.
Regarding the design, the front side showcased a right-profile view of the Queen without her crown. The reverse side had the image of the maple leaf, smaller than usual, and the text “VANCOUVER 2010” and the Olympic rings to the left, eclipsing a tiny portion of the leaf. Above the text was the micro-engraving of the Vancouver Games’ Olympic mascot.
A commemorative coin was also minted dated 2010, with a few design changes from the original. The mascot with the text “VANCOUVER 2010” and the Olympic rings were positioned on the obverse to the left of the Queen’s image. The rear side depicted an ice hockey player in the center flanked by a couple of maple leaves on both sides and the text “VANCOUVER WHISTLER” tearing through the relatively large “2010” inscription.
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin Proof Coin
The Maple Leaf coin has had brilliant, uncirculated versions but only a few proof variants. The coin comes in multiple denominations and years of issue; some have had the “proof” avatar. For example, the C$200 Maple Leaf gold coin issued in 2014 has had a proof version. The coin comes encapsulated and showcased in a flock-lined maroon clamshell case. The 2015 and 2016 versions of the same coin also have proof versions. In 1989, the 10th-anniversary proof coin came in a wooden box.
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin Value
Since the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is a pure gold coin, it’s more valuable than its face value suggests. The actual value varies, depending on current gold prices or the spot price of gold. The particular coin’s age, condition, variety, and rarity may add or determine actual value. Regarding current market prices, the 1-oz coin sells for more than $1,900 (as of December 2022). If you buy more or in packs, the rate comes down marginally.
The smaller versions trade at lower prices. As of December 2022, the market price for the ½ oz coin is around $1,080. The approximate prices for the ¼, 1/10, and 1/20 oz versions are $540, $250, and $189, respectively.
If you’re looking to sell your Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, expect to sell them at a shade lower than gold’s market price to leave room for profits. If there’s more demand for the particular version of the coin, expect more than reasonable prices. If dealing with a jeweler, expect less than what you could bargain for.
Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin: Where to Buy
You can easily buy Maple Leaf gold coins at online and offline stores in the States and Canada. The first place to shop at is the Royal Mint’s online store. Then you’ve got credible, third-party online stores such as JM Bullion and Kitco. Try to buy the coin from specialists or those who don't sell everything under the sun and only sell precious metals.
The availability is pretty robust in Europe too, and you should be able to pick one up at your favorite precious metal dealers or jewelers. In Asia, offline availability may not be that great, and you may have to resort to online sellers. Buy gold coins at recognized retailers and not on marketplaces or from individuals.
The Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin is among the purest bullion coins in the world. It’s also among the most popular coins, particularly among the investor community. Few pure gold coins are as popular or have so much cachet as the Maple Leaf coin. In recent years, the coin has gained traction in the eastern part of the world. Thanks to its worldwide visibility and popularity, the Maple Leaf coin has, no doubt, a global reputation.
Therefore, go ahead if you want to buy the Maple Leaf gold coin. It’s a great investment vehicle if you wish to have gold in your portfolio that isn’t a gold bar. And because the coin qualifies for a precious metals IRA, it also fits the bill if saving for retirement is the goal. Check out our pieces on other precious metal coins to learn how the Maple Leaf coin stacks up against other investment-grade coins.
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Is the Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin IRA eligible?
Yes, the iconic Canadian Maple Leaf gold qualifies for a gold IRA since it’s pure gold, minted at a recognized mint, and meets other IRS requirements for IRA eligibility.
Are Canadian Maple Leaf gold coins a good investment?
Yes, the Canadian Maple Leaf coin is a good investment. The Canadian government guarantees the coin’s worth and legitimacy. Not to mention, one of the best and most prestigious mints in the world produces the coin. The currency is pure gold, which means intrinsic value. Moreover, the coin is famous worldwide, making it credible and highly liquid.
Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin vs. American Eagle gold coin: What’s the difference?
The most significant difference between the Maple Leaf and American Eagle coins is that their issuing countries differ. Moreover, unlike gold Maple Leaf coins, American Eagle coins are 91.7% gold, with the remaining consisting of silver and copper. Also, the American Eagle bullion coin was first issued in 1986, seven years after the iconic Maple Leaf coin.
Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin vs. Austrian Vienna Philharmonic gold coin: What’s the difference?
The Maple Leaf gold coin is an iconic creation of the Royal Canadian Mint. The Vienna Philharmonic coin enjoys a similar status too in Austria. Like the Maple Leaf coin, the Vienna Philharmonic is a 24-karat coin issued in various sizes. The Philharmonic coin pays tribute to Austria’s world-renowned orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic. Talking about popularity, both are on par with each other.
How can you tell a fake Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin?
A fake Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin will weigh and measure differently from the original coin. If the weight is identical, the dimensions will most likely differ as it’s hard to mimic gold’s density. Moreover, pure gold has a certain ring, which other precious metals or even gold alloys cannot replicate. Also, look for design discrepancies. If you have a coin to cross-check with, that will make things easier. The Maple Leaf coin has a micro-engraved letter in the tiny leaf on the reverse side, which serves as a security feature or helps ascertain the coin’s authenticity.
What is the Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin worth?
The Canadian Maple Leaf gold coin is worth whatever the current gold price is at the time of the trade. The prices, of course, will vary with the size of the coin. At times, the year of issuance could cause a spike or decline in value, depending on market sentiments.
Has the pure gold nature of the Maple Leaf coin affected its durability?
Yes, there have been issues about the coin’s abject softness. Some dealers have complained about the coin’s 24-karat nature. That purity, combined with the milled edge near the Queen’s image and the relatively sub-par storage container, have resulted in handling marks and other signs of use or circulation showing evidently on the coin.
Are there Canadian Maple Leaf coins made from other precious metals?
Besides gold, the Canadian Maple Leaf also comes in silver and platinum. The silver coin is 99.99 percent pure and has been in production since 1988. The coin carries a face value of C$5 and weighs a troy ounce or 31.10 grams.
The platinum Maple Leaf coin was also issued initially in 1988. The currency is 99.95 percent pure platinum and came in five unique denominations until 2002. The one-troy-ounce coin weighs 31.1 grams. It has serrated edges and measures 30 mm diametrically.
Both the silver and platinum coins have had designs very similar to the gold coin. The silver and platinum variants also reflected the marginal changes made to the gold coin.