For residents of North America, there are two gold rushes that immediately come to mind. First, there was the California Gold rush that ran from 1848 to 1855. The discovery of gold transformed California from a little-known region of North America into a boomtown that today has one of the largest economies in the world. Canada’s own gold rush occurred in the Yukon Territories at the turn of the 20th century. This gold inundated Royal Canadian Mint facilities for decades to come, and brought attention to a largely desolate corner of North America.
History of the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin
If you are interested in a complete history of the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin, you can find it on Wikipedia, but for the sake of this article we’ll just be giving you a short snippet to help you better understand how it came to be.
It all started when the government of Canada first introduced the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf in 1979 as the official bullion gold coin of the country. All coins are produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and contain .9999 (24 carat) gold. The Gold Maple Leaf coins contain no base metals, and all of the gold in the coins come from mines in Canada. The introduction of this coin is one of the most unique stories in minting from around the globe.
Gold Maple Leaf; Past & Present
In 1979, there was only one gold bullion coin minted in the world. The South African Gold Krugerrand, at that time, was not easily found around the globe because the nation of South Africa was under economic boycott. Global policymakers inflicted devastating economic sanctions against the African nation because of its apartheid policies.
Today, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin is still in production and is viewed as one of the finest gold bullion products available. It is both figuratively and literally the finest gold coin in the world, containing .9999 fine gold which few other bullion coins use. It is common practice for most gold bullion coins to contain around 91.67% (.9167) pure gold. as is the case with the American Gold Eagle.
Gold Maple Leaf Coin Specifications
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf has undergone a number of alterations to its specifications and denominations. When the coin was first minted in 1979, there was not much variety available. Between 1979 and 1982, the coins were minted in .999 pure gold and available only in a 1 ounce weight. In late-1982, the Gold Maple Leaf underwent its first alteration.
Starting in November of that year, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz weights were added to the production lineup and the purity of the coins was increased to .9999. This range continued through 1985. From 1986 to 1992, the coin was available in the 1 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz weights as well as a new 1/2 oz weight. This continued until 1993 when a 1/20 ounce weight was added to the lineup.
Other notable weight changes involved a 1/15 oz coin and 1 gram coin. A 1/15 oz coin was added to production in 1994, but removed a year later. The lineup, minus the 1/15 ounce weight, continued unchanged from 1995 to 2013. The latest coins include that lineup from 1995 to 2013, with the addition of a 1 gram coin starting in 2014.
For a few, special edition Canadian Gold Maple Leafs, the purity of the coins was increased to an incredible .99999 fineness. These coins did not replace the standard purity of .9999, but rather were used specifically for these special editions. These special Canadian Gold Maple Leafs include the following:
- 1999 Special Editions
- Coloured Gold Maple Leaf with a mintage of 13,025.
- Hologram Gold Maple Leaf with a mintage of 500.
- 2001 Special Editions
- Hologram Gold Maple Leaf with a mintage of 600.
- $10 Hologram coin with a mintage of 14,614.
- 2007 Special Editions
- Two Hundred Dollar coin with a mintage of 30,848.
- One million dollar coin with a mintage of five.
- 2008 Special Editions
- Two Hundred Dollar coin with a mintage of 27,476.
- There was also a Limited Edition First Strike of 1,700 coins.
- 2009 Special Editions
- Two Hundred Dollar coin with a mintage of 13,765.
- 2011 Special Editions
- Two Hundred Dollar coin with a mintage of 8,408.
The only major design change in to the Gold Maple Leaf coin occurred in 2008 when the International Olympic Committee and the Royal Canadian Mint agreed upon a special-edition coin featuring the logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics, held in Vancouver. The coins were minted in 2008 and featured the emblems of both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. These Canadian Gold Maple Leafs were available in bullion, circulation, and collector editions.
A unique, bimetallic Gold Maple Leaf was released in 2004 as well. The 25th anniversary Canadian Gold Maple Leaf had a ring composed of .9999 silver, with a core of .9999 pure gold. The coin was released in weights of 1/25, 1/20, 1/10, ¼, ½, and 1 ounce. The coins ranged in face value from $.50 to $50.00.
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Bullion Coin Design
The reverse side of Gold Maple Leaf coins have always featured the image of a single maple leaf. The brilliant image of the maple leaf has increased in intricacy over the years as minting technology improved, but one leaf with its stem has been the primary image since the coin’s introduction in 1979. Engravings on the reverse side of the coin include “Canada” above the leaf, the coin’s weight and metal content below, and the purity of the coin on either side of the image.
On the obverse of the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, the image of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has been the primary design since 1979. However, unlike the maple leaf featured on the front, the image of the Queen has undergone three changes. Her right-profile portrait includes an image of the Queen at age 39 for coins minted between 1979 and 1989. An updated image of the Queen at 64 years old was added for coins minted between 1990 and 2004. All coins minted since 2005 include an image of a 79-year-old Queen Elizabeth.
In the image, the Queen is viewed from her right side. The engraving above her head bears her name, “Elizabeth II.” The engraving below her head includes the year of minting and the face value assigned to the coin by the government of Canada. Royal Canadian Mint engravers designed the maple leaf image, while artist Susanna Blunt is responsible for the image of Queen Elizabeth II.
Buying Canadian Gold Maple Leafs
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is one of the world’s most popular gold bullion coins, due in large part to its length of production (since 1979) and the high level of purity. The Gold Maple Leaf coins are categorized as “non-circulating bullion coins” in the terms of the Mint Act that established production of the coin. However, the coins are also considered legal tender in Canada under the terms of the Currency Act.
The face value of the coins in Canada varies from $.50 to $50. Those looking to invest in the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf can expect to pay prices based upon the weight of the coin. The amount of pure gold used in the minting of each coin determines its investment value, using the market price of gold and the weight (in troy ounces) of the coin to assign a value.
Where to Buy Gold Maple Leafs Online
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is easily found by shopping online with retailers such as Provident Metals, APMEX, BGASC, JM Bullion, SD Bullion and Golden Eagle Coin (to name a few). These precious metal retailers offer reasonable prices just above the market price of gold, based upon the total weight of the coin in question.
Depending upon the total mintage of the coins, this can also impact value. The lower the mintage is, the rarer the coin is and, as a result, the higher the price could be. Check with these retailers for more detailed pricing and quotes on investments in the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf. If you are buying current year Maple Leaf bullion coins, you can expect to pay around $20-$40 above spot price per unit. This makes them one of the most affordable gold bullion coins available to investors today.