The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coin is the official gold bullion coin of Canada and was first released by the Royal Canadian Mint in 1979. It was the second internationally recognized gold bullion coin, following the South African Gold Krugerrand. The gold used to produce these coins originates exclusively in Canadian mines. The Canadian Gold Maple is .9999 pure, equivalent to 24 karats, containing no base metals. The Canadian Government guarantees its purity, weight, and content. The Royal Canadian Mint was the first mint to produce a 24 karat gold bullion coin. Between 1979 and 1982, however, the coins were .999 in purity. The Royal Canadian Mint Act of 1985 distinguished Canadian Gold Maples as “non-circulating bullion coins” and under the Canadian Currency Act of 1985 the Canadian Gold Maple was established as legal tender with a face value of 20 Canadian Dollars, backed by the Canadian Government.
The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II designed by British artist, sculptor, and coin and stamp designer Arnold Machin. This bust was also used on all British coins until 1984, New Zealand Coins until 1985, and Australian coins until 1986. Her majesty faces the right of the coin with, “Elizabeth II” inscribed above her and “20 Dollars” and the year minted below her.
The reverse of the coin features the iconic Canadian maple leaf, Canada’s national symbol. The maple leaf’s recognition as a Canadian symbol can be seen as early as the eighteenth century among French Canadians who had settled near the Saint Lawrence River. Later, in 1834, Montreal’s first mayor, Jacques Viger, lauded the maple leaf as the king of the forest and a symbol of the Canadian people. The coat of arms in both Quebec and Ontario incorporated a maple leaf in their design in 1868 and it was included in the Canadian coat of arms by 1921. The maple leaf, however, was not seen as the central national symbol until 1965 when a stylized red maple made its debut on the Canadian Flag we are familiar with today. The country’s name displays itself boldly at the top of the coin and the coin’s purity level in English and French can be seen at the bottom; it reads, “Fine Gold 1/2 Oz Or Pur.” Four nines are placed both to the left and the right of the leaf. This design has seen little variation since its introduction, with the exception of the small maple leaf privy mark appearing toward the bottom of the coin in 2013. As an anti counterfeiting measure, this mark is laser micro-inscribed with the last two digits of the coin’s minted year.