For some time now, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) has had the bragging rights to the world’s largest and purest gold coin, the famous big Maple, a 100 kilogram chunk of pure gold with a face value of $1 million. That was, until recently, when the Perth Mint, out of Australia, claimed that title with a mammoth coin that makes the big Maple look like pocket change. It was bound to happen, the RCM can accept that. When the big maple came on the scene it took over for a somewhat smaller, but still pretty massive, gold philharmonic issued by the Australian Mint.
Up until then, there really wasn’t much demand for huge coins. The Australians had produced a one kilogram gold kangaroo back in the 1990s, but nobody seemed willing to take that title away, and it only made a tiny rumble for a few weeks. Rumour has it that David Dingwall, when he was master of the RCM, came across the Australian title-holder in Japan. A large bullion retailer had it on display where Japanese investors were then urged to purchase their own one-ounce bullion philharmonics. The always colourful Dingwall figured Canada should get some of the limelight, and assumed that such publicity couldn’t help but support the sale of more Canadian gold maple leafs. The maple leaf was already considered the market leader, with the purest coins in the market and he wasn’t about to step back from a challenge.
Producing the big maple took some effort. Measuring about a metre across, and with a weight that takes several men, or a fork truck to lift, it sure wasn’t going to fit into a coin press in Ottawa. So, instead, the big maple was produced with a combination of casting and machining, with the coin being hand finished. There is no doubt Dingwall expected the big maple to be a one-of-a-kind piece, that could be sent on tour to get the world excited about Canadian gold. However, a funny thing happened between the time the coin was announced and the time it was actually produced. There was interest to buy the big maple and a few purchasers showed up. Only five coins were made for sale.
That’s something the Australians never, at least to my knowledge, did, and I am pretty sure the Perth Mint doesn’t have any buyers for a second or third of their massive offering.