Maplegrams offer small-scale bullion

The Royal Canadian Mint has released a new entry-level bullion coin, the gold maplegram.

Introduced on Sept. 24, the one-gram gold coin has the same design as other members of the gold maple leaf (GML) family, but has a face value of just 50 cents. As with other gold maples, it has a purity of .9999. The coins are struck in the same bullion finish of brilliant relief against a parallel lined background. The tiny coins have a diameter of eight mm. There is no mintage limit, as most bullion coins are stuck to meet demand.

The size makes the maplegram the smallest Canadian gold coin in terms of diameter, compared to the 25-cent wildlife coins, which are 11 mm across. However the new coins are twice the weight of 25-cent coins, which weighs just half a gram. The result makes the maplegram comparably thicker, approximately 1.4 mm.

According to Marc Brule, interim master of the Royal Canadian Mint, the maple gram combines the established reputation of the GML with a new format.

“The Mint’s new maplegram product gives investors a novel way to purchase gold maple leaf bullion coins in a highly liquid format that preserves and celebrates all the trademark qualities of the maple leaf brand,” he said.

The coin may also serve as an entry-level coin for new investors. With improving global economies, sales of bullion have been lagging as investors move away from tangible assets. (See RCM second-quarter report on page 4 of this issue).

RCM spokesman Alex Reeves said the new product is offered as another way for people interested in purchasing gold, compared to collector coins, larger bullion, or the Exchange Traded Receipt (ETR) program.

“The Mint consistently invests in growing its business and expanding its market share. Diversifying our product offering is a potent way to do that, much like we did with our gold ETR three years ago,” he said.

The coins are packaged by the Mint in sets of 25 coins. The coins are in a blister card with a certificate of authenticity signed by RCM chief assayer Jonathan Forrest. Each coin is in its own square, which can be detached for single sale. Each coin’s holder has a unique serial number. At press time, the spot price of gold was $1,210 US, giving each individual coin an approximate value of $39.

Bullion coins do not have a set price, but are sold at the prevailing spot price of the metal they contain. The Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public, who have to purchase from dealers or distributors.

The GML family was launched in 1979 with the $50 one-ounce (28-gram) coin. At that time, it had a purity of .999. The higher purity helped it quickly gain market share against the then-market leader, the South African krugerrand, which had a purity of .917. In 1982, the purity of the GML was raised to .9999.

The success of the coin saw the maple leaf family expanded by the introduction of smaller coins, and also with the creation of silver, platinum, and palladium coins. In recent years, the series has also been expanded with special issues and commemorative designs. Some coins do not even bear a maple leaf design, but are still considered part of the RCM bullion series.

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