The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is a silver bullion coin issued annually by the government of Canada. The coin has been minted by the Royal Canadian Mint (R.C.M.) since 1988.
The face value of the 1 oz coin is 5 Canadian dollars, the highest among international silver bullion coins. During 2008, the market value of the coin was approximately 20 Canadian dollars. The market value in 2011 was above 30 Canadian dollars. The purity of the coin is 99.99% silver, also the highest among other bullion issues which have a 99.9% standard.
A very common trait that many Canadian Silver Maple Leaf's carry, is the well known "Milk Spot." It is a baked-in blemish, that has a cloudy white appearance to it. This happens when a cleaning detergent is left on the coin, and is still present when the coin goes into a furnace to prevent it from being brittle,and it gets baked into the coin itself.
The coin generally always features a maple leaf and generally consists of 1 troy ounce (31.1 g) of silver. Annual variations for the coin in past have included proof releases (1989 only), privy marks, a coloured maple leaf (with a design different from the regular maple leaf), holographic enhancements and several differing designs, such as a 2009 issue commemorating the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The one universal element in all silver maple leaf coins is the phrase "Fine Silver 1 oz Argent Pur" along the bottom of the reverse of the coin.
Several notable issues have been released over the life of the series. A single-issue 10 oz version was produced in 1998 to mark the 10th anniversary of the coin series. In 1999, many but not all Silver Maple Leaf coins that were issued came with a privy mark to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the RCM Maple Leaf Program. The following year, the coins featured a Privy Mark with Fireworks and the number 2000. Another Silver Maple Leaf was issued to commemorate the Millennium. The coins were double dated 1999 and 2000.
Silver Maple Leafs differ from their Canadian Gold and Platinum Maple Leaf counterparts in that collector demand generates prices well above and beyond bullion value. In particular, the 1996 and 1997 versions fetched very high prices due to limited mintages (for example, in 1997 just under 101,000 Maple Leafs were minted, in comparison with more than 1.2 million minted in 1999 and the record 17.8 million minted for 2010).
Some of the privy marked Maple Leafs were available only in Europe. In 2005, the Liberation of the Netherlands triple privy silver Maple Leaf, the rarest of all the silver Maple Leaf coins was struck by the Royal Canadian Mint for the Royal Dutch Mint. The first coin produced by the facility, graded SP70 on the Sheldon scale, was to be presented to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. For the first time in 2009, the Silver Maple Leaf coins were not packaged in Mylar by the Royal Canadian Mint. Due to the high demand, the Silver Maple Leaf was packaged in tubes of 25.
Obverse: The effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. There are three different versions, a young head version, an old head version, and an older head version. The year of issue and the face value of 5 dollars is also displayed on this side.
Reverse: Picture of a maple leaf. On some variations there are also a small privy mark on the lower half of the coin or colour enhancement.
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“So near to paradise all pairing ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud-inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.”
—Robert Frost (18741963)
“We had not gone far before I was startled by seeing what I thought was an Indian encampment, covered with a red flag, on the bank, and exclaimed, Camp! to my comrades. I was slow to discover that it was a red maple changed by the frost.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
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“When I from black and he from white cloud free,
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Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear
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And then Ill stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.”
—William Blake (17571827)