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The maple leaf gold coin was minted in Canada in 1979 and typically has a purity of .999 or greater. This gold bullion coin was among the first of its kind in modern history, and the first minted in pure gold rather than an alloy. The original maple leaf gold coin was minted in a 1 oz (about 28 grams) size, though a number of additional weights were added later. Each coin is considered as legal tender in Canada and carries a face value that corresponds to its weight. Additional versions of the maple leaf coin have also been issued throughout the years, including a Canadian Dollars (CAD) $1,000,000 coin, a 2010 Olympic edition, and variations in metals such as silver and platinum.
When the maple leaf gold coin was first introduced, the only other coin of this type was the South African Krugerrand. Unlike the Krugerrand, which is made of an alloy known as crown gold, maple leaf gold coins were minted in 99.9% or greater pure gold bullion. Coins minted after 1982 have been 99.99% or purer, while a few special editions have been known as "five nines" due to being 99.999% pure.
The first maple leaf gold coin was minted in a 1 oz (about 28 grams) size, had the face value of CAD $50 and featured Queen Elizabeth II one one side and a maple leaf on the other. Other weights were added later that ranged between 1/2 and 1/20 oz (14 and 1.4 grams), and a 1/15oz (about 1.8 grams) coin was offered only in the year 1994. These coins are considered legal tender at their face values, though they are not typically circulated. Gold is not very rugged when handled regularly, so coins minted in pure gold bullion can be easily damaged if they are not treated with care.
In addition to the traditional maple leaf gold coins issued each year, a number of special versions have also been offered. Maple leaf coins with inlaid holograms were minted in 1999 and 2001, and a special Olympic edition was offered in 2010. The first maple leaf gold coin to incorporate selective coloring was also minted in 1999, and a number of sets have been available with this feature.
Maple leaf coins have been minted in other precious metals as well, such as silver and platinum. The first silver and platinum maple leaf coins were minted in 1988, both of which featured a maple leaf and Queen Elizabeth II. A palladium maple leaf coin was first offered in 2005.