The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf is the official bullion gold coin of Canada and is produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. The brainchild of Walter Ott, it is the purest gold coin of regular issue in the world, with a gold content of .9999 millesimal fineness (24 carats). That is, it contains virtually no base metals at all – only gold exclusively from gold mines in Canada.
The coin was first introduced in 1979. At that time, the only available bullion coin was the Krugerrand, which was not widely available because of an economic boycott of apartheid-era South Africa. Coins minted between 1979 and 1981 have gold content of .999.
The coin is offered in 1/20 oz, 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz denominations and is guaranteed to contain the stated amount (in troy ounces) of .9999 fine gold (24 carat). The coins have legal tender status in Canada, but as is often the case with bullion coins, the face values of these coins (C$1, C$5, C$10, C$20 and C$50) are purely symbolic and are much lower than their true value.
The 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, and 1/2 troy oz coins are identical in design to the 1 troy oz coin except for the markings on the obverse and reverse sides that indicate the weight and face value of the coin. In 1994, 1/15 oz ($2.00 face value) gold and platinum coins were issued, possibly for use in jewelry. They were not very successful, and so 1994 remains the only year in which 1/15 oz gold and platinum bullion coins were produced.
Starting in 1988, Maple Leaf coins have also been struck in .9995-fine platinum, having the same weights and face values as the gold coins. Since 1988, a one ounce .9999-fine silver Maple Leaf has also been struck, with a face value of 5 dollars. In 2005, a .9995-fine palladium Maple Leaf 1 oz coin was introduced, with a face value of 50 dollars. The palladium Maple Leaf is subject to the federal GST in Canada.
On May 3, 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a Gold Maple Leaf coin with a face value of One Million Dollars, though the gold content was worth over $2 million at the time. It measures 50 cm in diameter by 3 cm thick and weighs 100 kilograms, with a purity of 99.999%. The artist is Stanley Witten. The coin is mainly a promotional product to give the mint a higher international profile. The 100-kilogram coin was conceived as a one-off showpiece to promote the mint’s new line of 99.999 per cent pure one ounce Gold Maple Leaf bullion coins but after several interested buyers came forward the mint announced it would manufacture them as ordered and sell them for between $2.5 million and $3 million. As of May 3 2007 there were five confirmed orders