Issued since 1988 by the Royal Canadian Mint, the Silver Maple Leaf is the official bullion coin of Canada. It is also world’s second best-selling silver bullion coin after the American Silver Eagle and the most technologically innovative coin of this type.
It was the world’s first silver bullion coin struck from 99.99% pure silver, setting a new global standard for silver coins that is now the norm among most world mints. This high level of silver purity has played a key role in why demand for the coins has risen over the years, representing a safe and efficient way to stack silver.
In addition, the Silver Maple Leaf carries a face value of $5 CAN, the highest face value of any world silver bullion coin.
In terms of art, the coins have for three decades featured the same reverse design by Walter Ott of a single maple leaf, an iconic Canadian symbol that makes the coins instantly recognizable all over the world.
The elegance, artistry, and sophisticated simplicity of this iconic design, along with the impressive craftsmanship and high silver purity, have combined to establish the Silver Maple Leaf as a perennial favorite with both silver investors and coin collectors.
To mark the 30th anniversary of these world-class bullion coins, the Royal Canadian Mint is releasing two special 2018-dated Silver Maple Leaf pieces in addition to the regular 2018 coin.
The first coin will feature a large “30” superimposed on the single maple lead that adorns the reverse, along with the standard obverse that depicts the Susana Blunt-designed effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The second coin will for the first time feature incuse striking of both the maple leaf and the image of the Queen, making this not only the first incuse Silver Maple Leaf but also the world’s first double incuse silver bullion coin!
Incuse coins, in which designs elements are sunk below the surface, were first made in ancient times and were designed to reduce the amount of wear coins receive in circulation. They became increasingly popular around the turn of the century, most notably between 1908 and 1929 with the Bela Lyon Pratt-designed American $2.50 and $5 Indian gold coins.
The Mint has not yet announced a mintage limit for either coin.
In the 1980s several major mints began issuing silver bullion coins designed to be traded on the global market. Following the introduction of the Mexican Libertad that began in 1982 and the American Silver Eagle that debuted in 1986, in 1988 the Royal Canadian Mint launched the Silver Maple Leaf.
While the reverse of the Maple Leaf has continued to sport a solitary maple leaf surrounded by inscriptions for the country, silver weight, and fineness in English and French, the obverse that must depict the reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth has seen three iterations: that of Arnold Machin from 1988 to 1989; that of Dora de Pedery-Hunt from 1990 to 2003; and that of Susana Blunt since 2004. The obverse also includes inscriptions for the year, face value, and name of the queen.
In terms of production and sales levels, the coin started off with a mintage of a little over 1 million coins, which increased for a couple years and was then reduced in the 1990’s, when the lowest mintage coins were issued (1995 to 1997, the key date with a mintage of 100,970 coins).
With rising silver demand in the 2000s, mintages rose into the millions, and production was ramped up each year from 2006 to 2010, rising from 2.5 million to almost 18 million during that period and by 2014 to nearly 30 million. Data for more recent years is not available.
This track record firmly established the Maple Leaf as the world’s second most popular bullion coin after the American Silver Eagle.
More than any other world bullion coin, Maple Leafs are also notable for the wide range of special editions and anniversary issues such as privy mark coins, zodiac coins, fractional issues, commemoratives such as coins in the shape of a maple leaf, issues with nature themes, colored and hologram issues, coins with edge lettering, and many others. MCM’s current Silver Maple Leaf selection is available here.
In 2014 the Mint also set a new global standard for anti-counterfeiting measures with the introduction of special security features, including radial lines in the fields and a laser-engraved small maple leaf with an even smaller maple leaf with the year of the coin in two digits. The radial lines give the coins a distinct look and create a light refracting pattern.
In terms of how the bullion coins are packaged, they were originally placed in sealed Mylar squares, but starting in 2009, they have shipped from the Mint in plastic tubes of 25 coins, or 500 in a box.
For three decades the Silver Maple Leaf (SML) has seen its popularity continue to rise with tens of millions of examples produced each year in the past decade.
Over this period, the coin has become both a cherished collector coin with many people building date sets and the various anniversary issues holding a special place for those who collect Maple Leaf coins.
At the same time, the coin has firmly established itself as a trusted choice for silver investors, who continue to seek out these coins for their beautiful designs, “four nines” purity, and constantly-improving security features, which now includes Bullion DNA anti-counterfeiting technology used exclusively on coins from the RCM.
Celebrate this impressive numismatic achievement and remarkable record of innovation in coin production with two special SML coins designed to mark the 30th anniversary, the 2018 $5 SML 30th Anniversary coin and the 2018 $5 SML Incuse coin, the first coin of its kind and the first major change to the reverse design of the coin. Both coins contain 1 oz. of .9999 fine silver and have serrated edges and a 38-millimeter diameter.
MCM will carry both ungraded and graded examples in a variety of NGC special labels.
Author Name: Louis Golino
Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst,” and in August 2021 the column received the NLG award for best column on modern U.S. coins. He has also received other awards for his writing. He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and and other publications. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.