On December 9 the globally renowned Canadian Silver Maple Leaf began an exciting new chapter with the launch of the 2020-W Burnished Silver Maple Leaf. These coins are the first-ever struck at the Royal Canadian Mint’s facility in Winnipeg. They also feature a burnished uncirculated finish and a mint mark just as the United States Mint’s Burnished American Silver Eagle series is struck with a “W” mint mark and a satiny matte burnished finish.
Silver Maple Leaf coins normally do not carry a mint mark, but the new coins will feature “W” mint marks for the Winnipeg mint as well as an ultra-low mintage of just 10,000 coins. What’s more, this is the first issue of an ongoing series of special Silver Maple Leaf coins struck to collector-grade quality to present the beloved reverse design of a single maple leaf at its best.
Striking the coins with a burnished finish required that each planchet be carefully burnished to create a smooth, satin appearance. In addition, the strike of each coin is stronger and neater than on bullion coins, and each piece is handled carefully throughout the minting process and encapsulated and placed in a mint box. Each coin comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity.
The fact that the coins will be produced at the Winnipeg mint is also very significant because that mint has until now only struck mass-produced circulating coinage, which allows hundreds of coins to be struck each minute.
To expand the facility so that it could be used to produce the new Burnished Maple Leaf coins, the Mint had to fly minting specialists from Ottawa to Winnipeg who retooled the coin presses so they could produce collector-quality pieces. Because of the special striking and handling procedures, these coins can only be struck at the rate of fewer than 20 per minute compared to the much-faster pace for circulating coins.
2020-W Burnished Silver Maple Leaf- A First-Ever!
The 2020-W Burnished Silver Maple Leaf will have the same weight of 1 oz of .9999 fine silver, denomination of $5 and diameter of 38 millimeters as the bullion Silver Maples. The “W” mint mark has been added to the reverse side to the left of the maple’s stem.
The coins are a GovMint.com exclusive outside of Canada, which will carry examples in Original Government Packaging and coins graded Mint State 69 and Mint State 70 by Numismatic Gaurunty Corporation (NGC) with an exclusive Canada label that features a stunning view of Niagara Falls. Graded coins in black core slabs are also available with the exclusive label.
The Silver Maple Leaf series
The iconic Silver Maple Leaf -- the world’s second best-selling silver bullion coin after the American Silver Eagle – was introduced in 1988, a decade after the Gold Maple Leaf’s 1979 debut. The coin’s name comes from its elegant reverse design by Walter Ott of a single sugar maple leaf with its leaves depicted in fine detail against a solid field, which has remained the same on all bullion versions of the coin since the series began.
Known as “The Emblem of a Nation’s Spirit,” the maple leaf has symbolized Canada and its citizens and culture for more than 300 years. It has appeared on Canadian coins since 1876. The reverse also includes inscriptions for the country, silver weight, and fineness in English and French.
The coin’s obverse, which is required to carry a portrait of the reigning monarch of the British Commonwealth, has gone through several iterations, including the one designed by Arnold Machin used from 1988-1989; that of Dora de Pedery-Hunt used from 1990-2003; and the current one by Susana Blunt that has been used since 2004. This side also includes inscriptions for the year, face value, and name of the queen.
The Silver Maple Leaf has a worldwide reputation for its high silver content and the impressive standards of its production as well as the most cutting-edge anti-counterfeiting and security features of any major world silver coin, especially since 2014.
Until now all Canadian Maple Leaf coins (in gold and silver and including commemorative issues) have been struck at the Royal Canadian Mint’s Ottawa branch, but the new Burnished Silver Maples are being struck at the mint’s facility in Winnipeg, which opened in 1976.
Connection to the American Burnished Silver Eagle
Collectors of modern silver coins will recognize the parallels between the new Canadian Burnished Silver Maple Leaf coins and the U.S. Mint’s Burnished American Silver Eagles. Both are struck on specially burnished planchets to produce coins of collector quality, handled carefully during the production process, encapsulated and presented in a mint box with a certificate of authenticity. And of course, both coins feature a “W” mint mark – in the Canadian case for the Winnipeg Mint and in the American case for the West Point Mint.
However, whereas the West Point coins have mintages that have ranged from a high of about 533,000 to a low of about 131,000, the Canadian Burnished “W” coins will be limited to a mere 10,000 coins for this release.
In addition, the first year’s issue of a new series tends to become a coveted coin for collectors over time, as is the case with the 1986 American Silver Eagle and many other first year coins, making the inaugural 2020-W Canadian Burnished Silver Maple truly special.
For all these reasons, the release of the new line of RCM silver coins marks an important moment in modern numismatics for all collectors of Canadian coins and those interested in major world silver issues. And just as the history of Canada has long been intertwined with that of the U.S., the two nation’s numismatic histories will also remain linked.