One of the most prominent gold coins for sale today is the Royal Canadian Mint’s gold bullion coin in the Canadian Maple Leaf Series. Like the American Eagles from the United States Mint, these coins represent the official bullion coinage of Canada. The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is significant within the precious metals market for its historic debut and its use of 24-karat gold. If you’re unfamiliar with the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, it’s time to learn a little bit more about this beautiful coinage.
The Royal Canadian Mint introduced the Gold Maple Leaf at a point in time when coin investors had only one choice: the South African Gold Krugerrand. The latter coin was introduced by the South African Mint in 1967 as the first-ever gold bullion coin for private investors. A Bull Market for gold in the 1970s inspired more sovereign mints to consider introducing their own gold bullion coin series. The Royal Canadian Mint was the first to act on this, but it wasn’t just the Bull Market for gold that inspired this decision.
South Africa’s apartheid system had resulted in economic sanctions placed on the nation by Western powers. As a result, South African Gold Krugerrands were no longer readily available throughout North America and Europe. The Royal Canadian Mint took advantage and introduced just the second-ever gold bullion coin aimed at private investors.
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf was first issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 1979. The coins were more than just the second gold bullion coins introduced for private investment, but also became the first-ever .9999 pure gold (24-karat) coins in the world when the mint increased gold purity in the coins in November 1982. Even to this day, few other gold bullion coins are available with 24-karat gold content.
Gold Maple Leaf coins featured .999 pure gold content when introduced in 1979 and would maintain that standard through late 1982. By November 1982, the Royal Canadian Mint was ready to increase the gold content to .9999 purity. From that point forward, the coins have maintained the same level of purity. On occasion, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued the Gold Maple Leaf with .99999 pure gold content, though these issues were strictly limited to special editions and never used on the standard gold bullion coins issued annually.
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins feature the same obverse and reverse design concepts every year. While minor elements are changed, such as the addition of security features, most of the design features remain constant. The only changes to the design are updates to the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II which appears on the obverse side of the coins. Since 1979, Her Majesty’s effigy has been updated constantly.
From 1979 to 1989, the coins featured the second-generation image of Queen Elizabeth II used on Canadian coinage. This effigy of Her Majesty captured the Queen at a young age and featured a modest depiction of Elizabeth II wearing a crown. Her name was engraved around the rim as “Elizabeth II” and accompanied by a shortened “D.G. Regina.” Original coins bore the engraving “Dei Gratia Regina” instead.
Gold Maple Leaf coins available from 1990 to 2004 featured the first-ever design from a Canadian artist. This image features the Queen at the age of 64 wearing the royal diadem on her head instead of other crowns. Gold Maple Leafs available since 2005 have featured the 2003 design of Her Majesty created by Susanna Blunt. The second-ever Canadian artist to develop the Queen’s bust for Canadian coinage, Blunt’s became the first since that of Elizabeth II’s father George VI to depict a monarch without a crown. Today’s Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins use only engravings of “Elizabeth II” along with the coin’s face value and year of issue.
The reverse side of Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins bears the sugar maple leaf. The official emblem of Canada, the sugar maple leaf has been used to symbolize the nation and its people since the mid-18th century, meaning it predates nationhood. The maple leaf was created in 1979 by Walter Ott and is surrounded by engravings of “Canada,” “9999,” “Fine Gold” and “Or Pur,” as well as the respective weight of the coin.
When the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin made its debut in 1982, the Royal Canadian Mint offered the coins only in a 1 Troy oz weight. Over the course of time, the mint has expanded the options for those investors buying gold. When the Gold Maple Leaf’s purity was increased to .9999 purity in November 1982, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced a ¼ oz and 1/10 oz coin. The ½ oz Gold Maple Leaf was added to the series in 1986. In 1994, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a 1/15 oz coin to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the series, and the coin was only available in that year. It is the only weight to ever be removed from the series after introduction.
The 1993 issue of the Gold Maple Leafs included a 1/20 oz coin and more recently, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced a regularly issued 1 Gram Gold Maple Leaf as well. To this date, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins remain available in 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20 oz, and 1 Gram. Each of these coins has a face value in Canadian dollars (CAD):
As with other gold bullion programs, the Gold Maple Leaf coins are struck to meet demand each year rather than setting strict mintage figures. The 1 oz coins debuted with a mintage of 1 million coins in 1979 and surpassed that with 1.215 million coins in 1980. Since that time, the highest reported mintage figures (all weights together) include the following years:
Standing in stark contrast to these mintage figures are the years in which the Gold Maple Leaf coins experienced very low demand. Among the lowest reported mintage figures for the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins, again all weights take together, include:
In the 2010s, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced two different security features to the coveted Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins to deter counterfeiters and secure the value of Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins. In 2013, the mint added a laser-micro-engraved maple leaf to the reverse field of the coins. This textured maple leaf had a numeral in the center denoting the year of issue and it was only visible under magnification. In 2015, radial lines were added to both the obverse and reverse sides of the coin to further enhance the security of the coins.
If you want to buy gold, there are few choices better than the Royal Canadian Mint’s Canadian Gold Maple Leaf. Please don’t hesitate to contact JM Bullion with your questions about these coins. You can call us at 800-276-6508, chat with us live online, or simply send us an email.