Mint beefs up SMLs for 35th anniversary

Introduced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 1988, the Silver Maple Leaf (SML) has become one of the world’s most secure silver bullion coins. To mark its 35th anniversary, the mint’s October releases include two special SMLs with very low mintage.

While regular SMLs offer one silver ounce, the first anniversary edition coin is a five-ounce, 62.25-millimetre piece that offers selective gold plating on both the obverse and reverse. With only 2,000 available worldwide, the reverse features an intricate Maple Leaf design and ornate flourishes by designers Walter Ott and Tony Bianco.

Weighing in at 157.6 grams, the coin has a face value of $50, rather than the $5 denomination on annually issued SMLs. The obverse features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth in gold plating along with the serrated edge.

Upstaging this coin is a five-kilogram SML with a $500 face value. Weighing in at 5,000 grams and a large diameter of 180 mm, this giant Silver Maple Leaf has a low mintage of 150 coins worldwide.

“The coin’s reverse elegantly celebrates the SML by surrounding it with ornate motifs representing the natural world, which provided the inspiration for Walter Ott’s iconic, and much-admired, design,” states a description of the coin that comes packaged in an elegant wood case. It also comes with a serialized booklet that covers the story of the SML. This exclusive piece retails for $12,999.95.

The mint’s October releases also include an annual tribute to Canada’s Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. The 2023 $20 fine silver coin depicts the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the National War Museum in Ottawa. The reverse features poppies in red and a war veteran involving his grandchild in the act of placing a poppy on the tomb. 

Designed by artist Silvia Pecota, the 38-mm coin features a Proof finish and weighs 31.39 grams.

Another popular RCM release is the Canada’s Unexplained Phenomena coin series. The sixth coin features “The Duncan Incident,” which involved a nurse at a hospital in Duncan B.C., and what she saw when she opened the curtain in a patient’s room on the morning of Jan. 1, 1970, just before dawn.

“The nurse described seeing a large saucer-shaped, glass-domed craft,” the mint states. “Inside the object, which was estimated to be 50 feet (15 metres) in diameter and illuminated from the bottom, two male-like figures clad in dark cloths appeared to be standing in front of a large panel. Absorbed by the sight, the nurse studied both the craft and its occupants until one of them reached down to grab hold of what appeared to be a lever … and the object quickly moved out of sight.”

Included with the coin is a black light flashlight that activates the technology embedded in the coin’s reverse. In normal lighting conditions, the colour-over-engraved reverse presents a view of the mysterious craft designed by artist Patrick Belanger, but the bright lights are amplified when the black light paint technology is activated.

As with previous releases in the series, the one-ounce silver coin has a rectangular design that is 49.80 mm by 28.60 mm. The obverse features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth and features a wormhole-like pattern that, the mint says, is a “nod to the UFO theme on the reverse.”

The Duncan Incident coin is limited to 6,500.

Wrapping up the mint’s October releases is a tribute to acclaimed Quebec artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, known for his abstract paintings.

“Riopelle’s creative genius wasn’t limited to a single medium,” the mint states. “In the 1960s, the Montreal-born artist dedicated himself to sculpture, creating works of art that underscored his connection to nature, which served as both a grounding force and muse.”

One of Riopelle’s bronze sculptures, Petit hibou, which features an owl accentuated with dimpled details, is being rendered into an Extraordinary High Relief pure gold coin. The mint says “the sculpted owl soars to a height of six millimetres above the coin’s surface – four times higher than an Ultra High Relief coin.”

The 36-mm coin, crafted in gold sourced exclusively from Quebec mines, has a face value of $200 and weighs 62.27 grams. It has a limited mintage of just 250.

For more details on the RCM’s October releases, visit 

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