The Canadian Maple Leaf Gold coin was introduced in 1979 to compete with South Africa’s Krugerrand, which was slowly falling out of favor due to the country’s racial policies. Seeking an additional advantage, the first Maple Leafs were struck from 0.9990 fine gold as opposed to the Krugerrand’s 0.9167, establishing the Royal Canadian Mint’s hallmark of purity.
The first Maple Leafs, however, were just 23.976- karat gold – too far short of 24-karat for the Royal Canadian Mint. In 1983, a new, 0.9999 fine (23.9976-karat) gold Maple Leaf was introduced, the first such gold bullion coin in regular mintage. In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint one-upped itself with a special issue “five-nines” – 0.99999 fine – pure bullion coin, closer to pure, 24 karat gold than any other coin in the world. Taking it one step further, the mint created a 100 kg version of the five-nines Maple Leaf having a face value of $1 million. The showpiece drew so much interest that at least four more were produced.
The one-ounce Gold Canadian Maple Leaf has a legal tender value of $50. Fractional weights of 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, 1/10 ounce, and 1/20 ounce have denominations of $20, $10, $5, and $1 respectively. An unusual 1/15-ounce Maple Leaf with a face value of $2 was issued in 1994, but was discontinued due to lack of interest.
The obverse of the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf bears the requisite portrayal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, rendered as the bust of a younger monarch facing to the right. Under that is the denomination, followed by the date.
On the reverse is the maple leaf, with “CANADA” inscribed above. On the left are four nines with “FINE GOLD” inscribed beneath, repeated on the right with the French equivalent, “OR PUR.” The weight is inscribed between the two.
Exceptional liquidity and broad range of fractional weights have made Canadian Maple Leafs the most popular 24-karat gold bullion coins in the world today and worthy of a place in any investment portfolio.
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