Gold Maple Leaf are very popular investment bullion coins. They were first minted in 1979 by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Their popularity come from they are the first gold coin made of pure 24 carats gold, also said .999 fineness (99.9 % pure or “3” nines). There is no alloy used in the manufacturing. In 1982 the refining process was further improved and the standard was raised to .9999 (“4′ nines). This resulted in coins of even high purity.
99.99% (24 carats) purity, making it one of the purest gold coins available anywhere in the world. However, one of the disadvantage of the high purity of the coin is that it shows easily handling marks.
The Canadian gold maple leaf weights 1 troy ounce of pure gold (31.1035 grams), as indicated on the coin’s reverse.
Over the years, the Canadian Mint produced different version of the canadian gold maple leaf. The coin became available for investment in different sizes: 1oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz and 1/20 oz.
One exception of the fractional issue is the 1/15 oz version. The Canadian Mint minted a 1/15 oz gold Maple Leaf during only one year in 1994, and never reproduced it again.
They all have the same design. Only the weight and the face value inscribed on each one of them differ.
You can find below a chart that summarise the issues of fractional gold maple leafs each year.
The head side of the Maple Leaf 1oz gold coin shows a portrait facing right of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. The obverse design has changed as her majesty aged. The different designs of the Queen Elizabeth II are shown below, aside of their year of issues.
First portrait: aged of 39 (1979 – 1989)
Designer: Arnold Machin
Second portrait: aged 64 (1990 – 2004)
Designer: Dora dePedery Hunt
Third portrait: aged 79 (2005 – present).
Designer: Susanna Blunt
Although they are hard to see, the initials of Susanna Blunt “SB,” can be located at the top of the Queen’s shoulder.
The obverse of the gold maple leaf features the following inscriptions along the curvature of the coin:
The Maple Leaf Gold coin is legal tender in Canada under the Canadian Currency Act for the face values of CAD$1, CAD$5, CAD$10, CAD$20 and CAD$50.
The reverse design depicts a maple leaf, one of the main symbols of Canada.
The reverse of the canadian gold coin is probably what makes it perceived as one of the most beautiful gold bullion coin in the market (combined with its very high purity). It was created by Walter Ott.
The reverse of the coin features the following inscriptions:
What does 1 oz or PUR mean?
“Or Pur” in french (Canada’s other official language) translates to Pure Gold. The fine gold content of the coin in troy ounces (1 oz) is placed between the words (in English and French) “Fine Gold” and “Or Pur”.
The reverse design of the gold maple leaf has evolved, as the Royal Canadian Mint improved its refining and minting process. Moreover, new security features were introduced over time.
Flat surface, 3 nines (.999)
Flat surface, 4 nines (.9999)
Flat surface, 4 nines (.9999)
Micro-engraved maple leaf hologram (since 2013)
Radial lines, 4 nines (.9999)
Micro engraved maple leaf hologram
In 2015, the Royal Canadian Mint added radial lines on both sides of the coin to make it harder for counterfeiter’s to reproduce the coins. This was part of a series of new security features.
Current gold maple leaf coins are manufactured with highly secure measures to prevent copies. These include micron-precise on the coin surface. This gives each coin an exact radial line which create a very distinct light-diffraction pattern. Moreover, each coin use the same technology used to etch the patterns onto Canada’s circulating currency.
You can find more infos about the new security features of the gold Maple Leaf on the website of the Royal Canadian Mint