World Silver Bullion Coins: Canadian Maple Leaf

Written By Luke Burgess

Posted January 18, 2016

As the official silver bullion coin series of Canada, The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is one of the most widely-recognized and sought after bullion coins in the world.

First introduced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 1988, there have been three different standard issues and several commemorative and other special editions of the Silver Maple Leaf.

With the exception of radial lines and a micro-engraved laser mark as new security features starting in 2014, the reverse design of the SML has remain unchanged since the coin was first minted; showing the signature maple leaf that is so closely associated with Canadian nationalism.

The obverse, however, has undergone two design changes.

1989sml 1990sml 2011sml
1988 to 1989 1990 to 2003 2004 to present

Issued with a CAD$5 face value, the Silver Maple Leaf has legal tender status in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mint currently produces the SML in weights ranging from 1/10th to 1 troy ounce.

All Silver Maple Leafs are minted in .9999 fine silver. This makes the Maple Leaf one of the purest silver bullion coins in the world.

Most other government-issued silver bullion coins, like the American Silver Eagle, are minted with a .999 fine silver purity. But honestly, I’d call this extra “9” a bit of a gimmick.

That extra .0009 fineness is not likely going to make a significant difference when you go to sell your coins.

And that’s one thing that I personally don’t like about the Canadian Maple Leaf coins: There are a lot of gimmicks – both in the Silver Maple Leaf and Gold Maple Leaf series.

Every government-issued bullion coin has proof and commemorative coins. This is a way for the country’s mint to show off their minting technology as much as it is a way to earn profit through seigniorage.

Some government mints also produce special issues of their bullion coins, including those with special finishes such as satin, reverse proof coins, and color enhancements, such as holographic or enameled graphics.

The RCM has done everything and more to the Silver Maple Leaf. Special issues of Silver Maple Leafs include:

smlrp116   Reverse Proof SML – Reverse proof coins feature a reversal of the mirror-like and frosty contrast typically seen on proof coins.
smlrp1162   Colorized SML – Colorized Silver Maple Leafs and other colorized bullion coins feature painted, enameled, or otherwise coated devices.
smlrp1163   Hologram SML – Hologramed Maple Leafs feature a high resolution dot matrix hologram, which is struck directly into the coin.
smlrp1165   Privy-Marked SML – These coins feature a small privy mark that identifies an individual, mint, event, or to acknowledge something else.

The Royal Canadian Mint has produced several other individual Silver Maple Leaf commemorative and special issues commemorating different things or featuring some kind of special finish.

There are a lot of special issues in the Gold Maple Leaf series as well. However, the RCM has really went overboard with special issue Silver Maples in the past 15 years. There are simply too many to individually name.

But here’s what the new 2016 Canadian Silver Maple Leafs with none of the bells and whistles look like…

2016smlobv 2016smlrev
Seen also on Gold Maple Leafs beginning in 2015, radial lines and a micro-engraved laser mark were added to the SML in 2014 as new security features.

The premium for all silver bullion coins is relatively high overall right now. The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is no excepstion.

APMEX is currently charging a premium of about 17% to 30% over spot prices for a brand new, uncirculated 2016 Silver Maple Leaf, depending on the purchase size and how you pay (check/wire or credit card/PayPal). To compare, APMEX is charging a 25% to 38% premium for 2016 American Silver Eagles.

As one of the world’s most recognized gold bullion coins, the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is a great coin to own for investors – as long as they stay away from the gimmicks and look to pay the lowest possible premium over spot prices.

– Luke Burgess
Energy and Capital

P.S. When purchasing Canadian Silver Maples Leafs, you’re also likely to come across bullion coins which have been altered in some way suching as coloring or added graphics.

Some of these are pretty neat looking. However, you should be aware that aftermarket alterations on coins are generally considered damage, or perhaps more precisely, graffiti. And dealers are usually willing to pay less for these coins than non-altered bullion.

Nevertheless, people have gotten really creative with some of the designs, and they are pretty cool looking. Here are a few examples:

smlalt11613 smlalt11612 smlalt1161

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