Gold Maple Leaf coins are .9999 fine and are minted by the prestigious Royal Canadian Mint. The RCM produces five sizes of Gold Maple Leaf coins: 1-oz, 1/2-oz, 1/4-oz, 1/10-oz and 1/20 oz. Like the Perth Mint Kangaroos, the front of the Gold Maple Leafs carry an image of Queen Elizabeth II.
1-oz Gold Maple Leafs, by far the most popular size, come in tubes of ten, and are the world’s best-selling pure gold bullion coins.
The fractional-ounce Gold Maple Leaf coins come in sheets with each coin suspended between layers of Mylar. The sheets make the fractional-ounce Gold Maple Leaf coins more challenging to count, handle and store. Further, over time Mylar tends to harden and crack, and the coins have to be secured in other containers, usually coin tubes.
The primary reason the 1-oz Gold Maple Leaf coins are more suitable to investors is that they sell at smaller premiums (markups over spot) than the fractional-ounce coins. The Royal Canadian Mint, as does all the other government mints around the world, sells its smaller gold coins at higher markups than the 1-oz coins. The smaller the coin, the higher the markup.
Handling Maple Leaf Gold Coins
Because 1-oz Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins are pure gold and because of their design (Gold Maple Leaf coins have sharp milled edges and smooth fields on both sides of the coins.), they are easily scratched if not handled carefully.
When removing 1-oz Maple Leaf gold coins from their tubes, hold the palm of your hand over the open top of the tube, turn the tube up and let the coins come out gently. Dropping Gold Maple Leaf coins onto a table top is guaranteed to result in scratched coins.
When returning Gold Maple Leaf coins to their tube, hold the tube horizontal and gently feed the coins in three or four at at time. Failure to properly handle Gold Maple Leafs will damage them and may result in lower resale values.
Gold Coins in the Western World
Pure gold is soft, and for that reason gold coins in the Western world have traditionally been alloys. Alloyed coins suffer less wear, and therefore less loss of gold when used in commerce.
Old U.S. gold coins were 90% gold/10% copper. The immensely popular Krugerrands are 22 karat (91.67% gold) as are American Gold Eagle coins. Until the .9999 fine Gold Buffaloes were released in June 2006, the only 24-karat gold coins U.S. Mint had made were commemorative coins.
When the Royal Canadian Mint introduced its Gold Maple Leaf coins in 1979, it made them 24-karat to set them apart from South Africa’s Krugerrands, which dominated the gold bullion coin market at the time.
The early Gold Maple Leaf coins
Gold Maple Leaf coins dated 1979 – 1982 were minted of .999 fine gold. Since 1983, Gold Maple Leaf coins have been minted of .9999 fine gold. The change may sound significant, but it was so insignificant that the RCM did not increase prices for Gold Maple Leaf coins after the change. Still, .999 Gold Maple Leafs, commonly called three 9s Gold Maple Leafs, sell at discounts to the later four 9s coins.
Both three 9s Gold Maple Leafs and four 9s Gold Maple Leafs are 24-karat gold bullion coins.
Maple Leaf Gold Coins’ Premiums
As a rule, Gold Maple Leaf coins can be bought at lower premiums than American Gold Eagles. Why? Because the RCM is more attuned to market conditions than is the U.S. Mint and prices their Gold Maple Leaf coins below the American Gold Eagles simply to encourage sales.
Frankly, the U.S. Mint is quite inflexible when it comes to market changes. The RCM, on the other hand, adapts to changes. For instance, for many years the RCM sold its 1-oz Silver Maple Leafs in cardboard boxes of 200 (ten Mylar sheets of twenty coins each.) The U.S. Mint, however, packaged its 1-oz Silver Eagles in durable plastic boxes of 500 (twenty-five tubes of twenty coins each), and Silver Eagles have out sold Silver Maple Leafs by huge margins.
However, when the Post Office’s Flat Rate boxes became the easy and economic way to ship silver, the RCM changed its Silver Maple Leaf packaging to plastic boxes that fit in Flat Rate boxes. The U.S. Mint’s Silver Eagle boxes, on the other hand, do not fit in Flat Rate boxes. Further, the RCM dropped Mylar sheets in favor of tubes, as Silver Eagles are packaged. Whereas boxes of Silver Eagles come twenty-five tubes of twenty coins, boxes of Silver Maple Leafs are packaged twenty tubes of twenty-five coins.
If you would like to discuss buying Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins, or any aspect of investing in gold, call 1-800-528-1380. We take calls 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. CMI Gold & Silver Inc. has traded in gold and silver bullion since 1973. For more information about us, read Doing Business with CMI Gold & Silver Inc.
CMI has no minimum for for gold bullion coins. Orders up to $20,000 may be accepted without a deposit. Usually, payment by bank wire transfer is required for large orders. Sometimes, a deposit may be required before prices are locked in for large orders.