The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is a bullion coin issued annually by the government of Canada and minted by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM). First hitting the market in 1988, the now iconic design has seen huge sales, second only the the American Silver Eagle. Like the Eagle, it has a limited numismatic value compared to most other silver bullion coins due to that huge mintage and a design that doesn’t really change. The lack of bigger sizes doesn’t help matters either, firmly placing the Maple, along with the Eagle and the Austrian Philhamoniker, as pure bullion coins whose value is intrinsically linked to it’s precious metal content only. They do issue annual Privy Mark coins around the world that many collect, which helps somewhat, but its primarily a way to buy lots of silver with a minimal penalty over the silver spot price.
One downside for many has been the presence of ‘milk-spots’, generally believed to be the result of contamination during the minting process, possibly by baked on borax. This doesn’t affect the silver value of the coin but will have an adverse effect on its numismatic value. Less of a problem with the Maple given it holds a little to no numismatic premium, but not really acceptable either given the length of time it’s been an issue. There are strong rumours that the hugely improved 2014 redesign has greatly reduced the issue.
In it’s first 25 years of being on sale, the design has remained the same, except for the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse which is on it’s third incarnation, the latest being the ubiquitous Susannah Blunt profile. The SML is minted with one troy ounce (31.11 grams) of 0.9999 fine silver (the purest on the market), and has a face value of $5, the highest face value on the market for any comparable silver bullion coin.
|Denomination||Metal||Weight, g||Diameter, mm||Thickness, mm||Quality||Mintage|
|5 DOLLARS (CND)||0.9999 silver||31.103||37.97||3.18||BU||To order.|
The radial lines have been precisely machined to within microns on the master tooling to ensure consistent die production and coin striking. The specific width and pitch of the lines radiating from the coin’s central maple leaf design create a light-diffracting pattern which is unique to the Mint’s “next generation” SML and unmatched by both competing bullion products and, we would assume, counterfeiters. The laser-produced micro-engraving of a textured maple leaf incorporating the numeral “14” to denote the coin’s year of issue – a technology also found on the Mint’s Gold Maple Leaf bullion coin and its award-winning 2012 $1 and $2 circulation coins, will certainly make counterfeiting both extremely difficult and uneconomically. We’d not be surprised to see this kind of technique applied to other major bullion coins. CIT have already introduced a system on their new major releases, as they’ve also suffered from this.
From 1988-1989 the coin carried the Arnold Machin RA portrait, an image also used in slightly modified form on British stamps since 1967. It’s considered to be one of the most widely reproduced images in history.
From 1990 until 2003, the superb Raphael Maklouf-like portrait by Dora de Pedery-Hunt, a Hugarian-Canadian sculptor, was used.
In 2004 after winning a nationwide competition against eight other artists, the Royal Canadian Mint chose a new portrait by Susanna Blunt to put on the obverse of all its coins, including the Maple. It remains in use today.