Maple Leaf – the first 999.9 gold bullion coin

The long-established Maple Leaf gold coin is one of the most sought-after investment products with worldwide acceptance. Its maple leaf motif is Canada’s national symbol and gives the coin its name. This high-circulation precious metal coin has been minted since 1979. From 1983, its fineness rating has been 999.9/1000 gold. The Gold Maple thus established a new, international standard.

After the Krugerrand, the Maple Leaf gold coin is the second-oldest bullion coin. It is available in five standard denominations of 1/20 oz, 1/10 oz, ¼ oz, ½ oz and 1 ounce. Every year it is issued with identical motifs. Designed by the Austrian engraver Walter Ott, the reverse side displays the classic emblem – a delicate, upright maple leaf framed by the coin’s standard issue data. The obverse side represents the state of Canada with a likeness of its monarch Queen Elizabeth II, based on a 2003 design by the Chinese artist Susanna Blunt. There is also an inscription indicating the coin’s year of issue and face value in Canadian dollars.

Image of a Maple Leaf with laser engraving
The Maple Leaf has been laser engraved since 2013.
© steheap -

The Maple Leaf is issued in an unlimited annual mintage by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), based in Ottawa. This gold coin, which offers a consistently high value that is closely related to the current price of gold, is widely considered a recommendable investment product for investment professionals as well as for beginners. In addition to a bullion issue in uncirculated quality, the mint also serves the collectors’ market with limited numbers of proof versions. A so-called MapleGram edition is also available as a blister set of 8 or 25 coins, each weighing one gram. One of the largest coins in the world is the “Big Maple Leaf” – a gold coin dating from 2007 weighing 100 kilograms, with a diameter of 50 centimetres and a face value of one million US dollars. For this edition, only around 10 pieces were minted.

The Maple Leaf: coin designs through the ages

Although the motifs have remained the same since the first edition, they have nevertheless been updated over time. For example, the image of the Queen has aged alongside the monarch with an amended version issued about every ten to fifteen years. A new laser engraving appeared on the obverse image side for the first time in 2013. This depiction displayed a miniature maple leaf with the two-digit year in the centre. This now unmistakable security feature became the hallmark of all coins issued from 2014 onwards. A comprehensive redesign took place in 2015, when the coin base on both sides received some additional, micrometer-fine radial rays, which also served to provide further protection against forgery. The result produced the elegant-looking precious metal coin that is still common today.

The fact that this coin has been made from almost pure gold ever since 1983 can hardly be overlooked. Even to this day, the fineness rating of 999.9/1000 appears twice on the reverse. The reason for this is that the Canadians wanted their coin to stand out from other successful coins such as the Krugerrand and the American Eagle, which were (and still are) made with a lower proportion of just 91.67% gold. Canada’s press releases for the market launch thus advertised the Maple Leaf as being “Four Nine Fine” (a fineness rating of ‘four nines’). What was a real technical sensation at the time, has now set the standard for modern bullion coins.

Number of Maple Leaf gold coins produced

The first edition of the Gold Maple Leaf at one troy ounce appeared in 1979 with an impressive circulation of one million coins. These high numbers continued through the following years. From 1982, further denominations were added, and this broader selection meant the Maple Leaf could address the needs of a range of different investors. During the 1990s, the circulation of the ounce coin shrank to less than 150,000 pieces. Production reached its lowest point in 2000 with less than 90,000 units minted for the primary issue. Beginning with the financial and banking crisis in 2007, a global demand emerged for high-quality bullion coins, which caused the Maple Leaf’s circulation figures to skyrocket again. Today, this Canadian gold coin is once again in high circulation with the annual mintage dependent only on the perceived annual demand.

Maple Leaf gold bullion coin specifications, including the mintage numbers:

Maple Leaf 1 oz 1/2 oz 1/4 oz 1/10 oz 1/20 oz
30.00 mm
25.00 mm
20.00 mm
16.00 mm
14.00 mm
2.87 mm
2.23 mm
1.78 mm
1.13 mm
0.92 mm
31.103 g
15.552 g
7.776 g
3.110 g
1.555 g
Face value
50 CAD
20 CAD
10 CAD
from 1979
from 1986
from 1982
from 1982
from 1993

* Total circulation between 1979 and 2013

Between 1979 and 2013, almost 39 million bullion-quality Maple Leaf gold coins of all denominations were brought onto the market, one-ounce coins alone accounting for 23 million of this total. The Royal Canadian Mint has not published any mintage details since 2014, and now only discloses the total gold ounces of coinage covering all versions of the Maple Leaf in any one year.

The importance of the Maple Leaf gold coin for the world market

Alongside the Krugerrand (South African Mint), the Australian Kangaroo (Perth Mint), the American Eagle (US Mint) and the Vienna Philharmonic (Austrian Mint), the Maple Leaf is one of the best-selling gold coins in the world. Investors appreciate the Canadian coin because of its benchmark-setting mint quality and high degree of fineness. And thanks to the fact that the motifs remain the same every year, coin values stay close to the current price of gold with only small surcharges.

Canadian silver Maple Leaf silver coin
The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf silver coin.
© Lovrencg -

Traded internationally and recognised everywhere, the Gold Maple is one of the top bullion coins. For investors, their high market profile makes for uncomplicated reselling to precious metal dealers, banks or other investors. Therefore, this gold coin is particularly suitable for either building or expanding a precious metal portfolio.

Maple Leaf available in four investment metals

In addition to the gold coin, the Maple Leaf design is also issued in three white metals (silver, platinum and palladium) each with identical motifs. The silver coin in uncirculated quality has been available in denominations of one ounce since 1988 and its mintage is unlimited. Similar to the gold edition, its fineness is 999.9/1000. Additional options are available in the limited-edition collector’s proof versions.

The Maple Leaf has been issued intermittently as a platinum coin since 1988. Its fineness is 999.5/1000. Though initially available in other denominations, the platinum maple is now only minted in the ounce-size version with around 30,000 pieces circulated each year. In addition, the Maple Leaf has been available as a one-ounce palladium coin since 2005, with a fineness of 999.5/1000 in various mintage sizes.

A summary of all you need to know about the Maple Leaf bullion coin