Hoping to invest in precious metals? Look no further than the American Eagle Gold coin and the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf. Gold bullion coins are uncorrelated sources of investment diversification, are legal tender in the respective countries, and make unique gifts to commemorate big life moments.
History of North America’s Most Popular Gold Coins
From 1967 until the late 1970s, the 22-karat Krugerrand was the only gold bullion coin available to investors. However, due to the anti-apartheid boycott, Krugerrands were made illegal in many countries apartheid ended in 1991. As such, the Canadian government filled the void when it introduced the 24-karat Canadian Maple Leaf Gold coin in 1979. The U.S. government joined a few years later when the passage of the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 authorized the U.S. Mint to strike 22-karat American Eagle Gold bullion coins.
Two Iconic Designs: Maple Leaf & Lady Liberty
The Canadian Maple Leaf was designed by Walter Ott, and its obverse side displays a profile of Queen Elizabeth II as well as the inscription “ELIZABETH II,” the coin’s face value, and the year of minting. The maple leaf, Canada’s official national symbol, adorns the reverse side in addition to inscriptions indicating the coin’s purity and denomination. The Royal Canadian Mint’s reputation for quality is based on the flawless planchets (the blanks from which the coins are minted) that the Mint insists on using for the production of the Maple Leaf Gold Coin.
The American Gold Eagle features designs by both Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Miley Busiek (now Miley Tucker-Frost). Saint-Gaudens’ Lady Liberty, hair flowing, holding a torch in one hand and an olive branch in the other, adorns the obverse side, with “LIBERTY” inscribed across the top as well as the year of minting below. Tucker-Frost’s male and female eagles are featured on the reverse side with the inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and “IN GOD WE TRUST,” together with the coin’s weight and face value.
Similarities and Differences Between Both Gold Coins
The similarities between the two coins are somewhat limited. Both coins are legal tender produced by government mints in their respective countries, both coins come in special “proof” (limited production coins minted with the highest quality possible) in addition to normal production, and both coins are eligible for placement in gold Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).
In addition to being issued in different currencies by different governments in different countries, the coins are also different karats and come in different sizes. The American Eagle is 22-karat gold bullion and therefore is made of 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper. At 24 karats, the Maple Leaf is .99999 fine, or essentially pure gold. As for sizes, the American Gold Eagle comes in the following sizes:
- 1 troy ounce (US$50.00 face value)
- ½ troy ounce (US$25.00 face value)
- ¼ troy ounce (US$10.00 face value)
- 1/10 troy ounce (US$5.00 face value)
Maple Leaf Gold has similar sizes but one additional smaller size:
- 1 troy ounce (C$50.00 face value)
- ½ troy ounce (C$25.00 face value)
- ¼ troy ounce (C$10.00 face value)
- 1/10 troy ounce (C$5.00 face value)
- 1/20 troy ounce (C$1.00 face value)
The Royal Mint briefly produced a 1/15 troy ounce Gold Maple Leaf Coin in 1994, but this version was not as popular as other sizes and was dropped after one year.
What Investors Need to Know American Eagle and Maple Leaf Coins
The most important thing to know about both these coins is how they are valued. Despite their face values, they actually trade on the value of their constituent metals. As a result, Maple Leaf Gold coin value is determined solely by the gold price, as it is a fine gold coin. The American Eagle Gold coin value, on the other hand, is determined by the spot price of all its precious metals combined, although mostly by the price of gold.
Finally, the Maple Leaf has long been extremely popular with numismatists due to the high quality of the coins. In 2007, the Royal Mint even issued Maple Leaf Gold coins with face values of one million Canadian dollars. The American Eagle was not the most popular gold bullion coin when originally produced, but has gained in popularity over the years. Both coins make excellent investments for any portfolio in need of some true diversification away from stocks and bonds.
How to Buy Gold Coins
The U.S. Mint sells gold coins only to its network of Authorized Purchasers who meet certain strict criteria, who then on-sell the bullion to the wider public. Scottsdale Bullion & Coin is available in the Scottsdale, Arizona area as a U. S. Mint Authorized Purchaser, and is a seller of both American Eagle- and Maple Leaf coins.