Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin

Posted - September 18, 2023
canadian maple leaf gold coin

For decades, the Royal Canadian Mint has been one of the most important producers of precious metal products on the planet. Their most popular coin, the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin, offers intricate design and a high percentage of pure gold bullion. But what makes the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin such a favorite for so many investors around the world? We’re taking a close look at this famous coin in today’s Bullion Academy guide. 

Hero Bullion sells a variety of full one ounce and fractional Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins. We always like collectors to have as much information as they need before making a purchase, so read on for a comprehensive introduction to Canada’s classic gold coin. 

History of the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin 

The first release of the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin came in 1979. The year saw only the full one ounce variation of the coin, but fractional denominations were added just three years after. Since 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint has produced ½, ¼, 1/10, 1/20, and 1 oz Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins. The storied Canadian mint also now sells 1 gram Gold Maples – which is great news for collectors working with minimal capital. 

Inception and Significance 

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins have a long history of popularity, both inside Canada and in the rest of the world. The coin was first released in 1979 at a time when the world’s bullion market was dominated by a single coin: the South African Gold Krugerrand. But limitations to the availability of this coin, namely due to boycotts in the United States, primed the market for a new coin to take the reins as a dominating bullion product. 

2023 1 oz Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin
1 oz Gold Canadian Maple

Enter: the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin. Its first minting run from 1979 until 1982 featured .999 fine gold bullion. Following its enormous success, the Royal Canadian Mint managed to increase the purity of their trademark gold coins to .9999. The pieces would remain largely unchanged until 1990, when Queen Elizabeth’s obverse portrait shifted to reflect her increasing age. 

Evolving Design Features

On the obverse of each coin, you’ll find Queen Elizabeth II. She’s wearing her classic earrings and pearl necklace and no crown. The reverse of a Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin is static from year to year. Since the first coin was released in 1979, it’s featured the same depiction of a Canadian maple leaf, Canada’s national symbol and globally recognized icon. 

But the design of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse does change over time. As the former Queen of England aged, her portrait shifted to reflect her age. These evolving design features make the Canadian Maple one of the most collectable coins on the market. 

It’s also important to note that another major design change is about to grace the background of our Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins. With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, legacy coins featuring her likeness will change in the next few years. They will now feature King Charles III, the current monarch of Great Britain. 

Role in Canadian Economy 

While the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin is a major contributor to the financial success and stability of the Royal Canadian Mint, it doesn’t tend to play a huge role in the general Canadian economy. The full 1 oz variant of the Canadian Maple carries a face denomination of $50 CAD, but few people actually trade these coins for goods and services. This shouldn’t be a surprise; the value of the gold in each Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin is far greater than $50 CAD. 

Maple Leaf Vs. Other Coins 

The Maple Leaf is a peer of some of the other most popular coins in the world, including the American Gold Eagle and the Gold Britannia. Like these other collectable bullion pieces, the Canadian Maple features a human on the obverse and a symbol on the reverse. But the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin also offers a few things that are unique. To start, the piece’s obverse depiction of Queen Elizabeth changes every once in a while to accurately represent her age. 

Notable Historical Events

Though history has closely impacted the development of the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin and its popularity, the single most important historical event for the piece actually came at the beginning of its minting run. Boycotts by several major countries over the Apartheid government of South Africa made the Krugerrand hard to find. If you’ll recall from our blogs about the Gold Krugerrand, this coin once made up 90% of the world gold coin trade. 

If it weren’t for the boycotts against South Africa, the Royal Canadian Mint might never have been inspired to create a coin to fill the gap left by the Krugerrand’s scarcity. 

There’s another, much more recent event that has shaken the world of Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins. The death of Queen Elizabeth II was one of the most important historical events in recent history. For the Canadian Maple, it means that mint designers will now have to release a new obverse portrait for future coins. King Charles III will likely appear on Canadian Maples starting in 2024. 

Design and Specifications 

We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about the obverse design of the Canadian Maple. But the coin’s real appeal to collectors comes from its reverse-side design as well. In fact, the reverse of the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin is where the piece gets its name. We’ll take a look at the key design specifications of the coin below, including its iconic maple, purity and fineness, and security features. 

Iconic Maple Leaf Design 

On the reverse, this coin features its trademark depiction of a Canadian maple leaf. Some investors might not know that the maple leaf is an important Canadian symbol for a reason. It isn’t just some pretty geometrical design that they decided would look good on a flag. When aboriginal Canadians attempted to survive the rough Canadian wilderness, they were saved by the nutrition provided by the maple tree and its leaves. While the maple leaf didn’t become a national symbol in Canada until the 1800s, it certainly made an impression on early European settlers. 

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin
1/2 Canadian Gold Maple

The Maple Leaf is an enduring symbol for the country, and it makes its own appearance on the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin. Hare, it’s shown in incredible detail. The texturing on the coin’s reverse-side maple leaf is one reason for its popularity among collectors, and we love it too. 

Purity and Fineness

1982 was the last year that the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin featured .999 fineness. After that year, the coin has continually included the maximum fineness provided on most bullion coins, .9999. The Royal Canadian Mint has sometimes created Maple Leaf Coins with a fineness of .99999. We refer to these coins as “five-nines,” referring to their exceptionally high fineness. 

We don’t anticipate that the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin will ever return to the lower .999 purity. 

Security Features

Modern Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins include some of the most sophisticated security features ever created by a government mint. The 1 oz Gold Maples include a small micro-engraved Canadian Maple on the reverse. It’s underneath the larger Gold Maple, which takes up most of this side of the coin. If you zoom in on the small maple leaf with a magnifying glass, you’ll see a tiny mark signifying the year it was minted. 

This feature helps to prevent counterfeiters from successfully recreating the look and feel of a Canadian Maple. For investors who are concerned about falling victim to fake gold coins, the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin is an industry-leading example of state-of-the-art security features. 

Collecting Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins 

If you’re planning on expanding your gold collection with quality Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins, there are several things you need to keep in mind. Rarity and mintage numbers, grading and valuation, and design variations all play an important role in determining the value of a Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin. 

Rarity and Mintage Numbers

Most Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins aren’t particularly rare. Certain special edition releases, such as the .99999 pure “five-nines” gold coin, come with exceptionally low mintage figures. In fact, the $200 Dollar Coin was minted with .99999 fine gold bullion – only 500 were ever circulated. But for the most part, coins from this long series are minted in high numbers. With hundreds of thousands of Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins minted per year, they’re never going to be super valuable based on rarity alone. 

2023 1/10 oz Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin
1/10 oz Canadian Gold Maple

Grading and Valuation 

These coins are almost never traded with a grade less than BU. Brilliant Uncirculated coins represent the best that bullion products have to offer. Even under intense magnification, the pieces feature no visible signs of wear – and absolutely zero damage. Because these coins aren’t circulated into the general economy, they’re only distributed from the Royal Canadian Mint in Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) condition. If you plan on selling your coin in the future, make sure to store it properly. If it becomes damaged or rates at a lower condition, its value might go down considerably. 

Variations and Series

Some yearly releases of the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin might be more valuable than others. Generally, the highest numismatic values for these coins come from rare releases, including the .99999 pure Gold Maple. To get a better understanding of which Canadian Gold Maples are likely to become more valuable over time, take a look at both auction results and mintage figures. 

Investment Potential 

Canadian Gold Maples are a time-honored tradition among gold stackers. Like we mentioned above, Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins generally aren’t exceptionally valuable from a numismatic rarity perspective. This doesn’t mean that these pieces are without considerable investment advantages. For one thing, the coins are extremely recognizable. Along with the Gold Britannia and American Gold Eagle, the Canadian Maple Leaf is one of the world’s most coveted collectable coins. 

Precious Metal Value

Minted with .9999 fine gold, the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin’s price is closely related to the current spot price of gold. When gold becomes more valuable, the cost of a Maple Leaf will increase as well. And then the precious metal takes a nosedive, your Gold Maples will lose value over time. We recommend tracking gold’s spot price consistently. Smart investors are able to time the market to maximize profit, and this skill can take quite some time to learn. 

Market Liquidity 

Gold products from sovereign mints are extremely liquid. Liquidity refers to how easy it will be for you to sell your investment when it’s time to take some profit. Products that are in high demand and highly recognizable are usually extremely liquid. In other words, coins like the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin are easy to sell when you’re ready. 

Diversifying your portfolio can help you to make your collection more liquid. Generally, coins from sovereign mints are popular among collectors and can be quickly and reliably sold to other investors. Canadian Maple Leaf Coins are a great example of this trend; they’re ever-popular among investors and are often quick to sell once they’re listed on the open market. 

Portfolio Diversification 

Diversifying your portfolio is about more than just including a few silver coins with your growing stack. The types of coins you include in your collection is also an important part of diversifying properly. Combining American coins with bullion pieces from other respected government mints is a great way to add numismatic diversity to your silver, gold, and platinum portfolio. 

Final Thoughts: Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins

Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coins are some of the world’s most coveted bullion products. We don’t have trouble understanding why they tend to fly off of our shelves. The coins come with a brilliant history, exceptional fineness, and iconic reverse and obverse designs. 

If you’re thinking of starting your gold investment journey with a quality Canadian Maple Leaf Gold Coin, please don’t hesitate to reach out today. 

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About The Author

Michael Roets is a writer and journalist for Hero Bullion. His work explores precious metals news, guides, and commentary.