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Certified Silver Maple Leafs – Where Are The MS70’s?

June 19, 2014 1 Comment

Being in the coin business for just about 40 years, we’ve seen a lot of markets and trends come and go. Bull markets, bear markets, the silver bubble (and crash) of 1980, the 2000’s commodities boom and more recently, the rise of graded coins. When PCGS came about and began offering grading coins as a service, we in the industry thought it was a bit of a racket. Coin dealers with decades of experience were already giving coins grades. Why did you need to pay a company to tell you what a reputable dealer could tell you for free? But that’s just because the idea was so new that we didn’t fully grasp it at first. Now, graded coins are everywhere, and the perception has shifted – graded coins are the norm and they’re here to stay. You can get almost any coin graded by NGC and PCGS and feel confident in their assessment. But there’s one segment of graded coins that we see as greatly undervalued and that is Certified Silver Maple Leafs. Actually, we think it’s safe to say that all certified coins by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) are undervalued.

When coin certification/grading was first introduced, it was mainly used to authenticate older coins (such as Morgan Dollars from the 1800’s) and assess their grade because they require a more trained eye. Now, the in vogue trend is to grade modern coins that were just minted, such as Silver Eagles and Gold Eagles. Consumers want to own a “perfect coin” with a grade of 70 (the highest grade on the Sheldon Scale).

For a detailed explanation of coin grading, check out our post on it.

Because of the prevalence and “ease” of acquiring “perfect-70” coins, the perception within the coin community is that any modern coin can be had in perfect, uncirculated condition for a relatively cheap price. For example, when American Silver Eagles are released every year, coin dealers send in Monster Boxes to have them graded with the hopes of getting MS69 and MS70 coins. And every year there’s a huge surge in sales once the MS70 coins are available to buy. Because of the mass availability of MS70 Silver Eagles (the most popular silver bullion coin), the public has this perception that it’s easy to get any modern coin in MS70. But that is the furthest thing from the truth when it comes to silver coins from the Royal Canadian Mint.

Our second most popular silver bullion coin that we sell is the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf. And what the public doesn’t know is this: YOU CANNOT BUY A CERTIFIED MS70 CANADIAN SILVER MAPLE LEAF. They do not exist, because in all the years that NGC and PCGS have been in business there has been exactly 1 Silver Maple Leaf that has ever been graded MS70 (it is a 2014 Silver Maple Leaf graded MS70 by PCGS). And to continue the scarcity of high-grade Silver Maples is the fact that in 2014, only 5 Silver Maples were graded MS69 by PCGS. FIVE! Out of all the millions of Silver Maple Leafs that the Royal Canadian Mint produced, only 5 were graded MS69 by PCGS! What is ironic is that the reason silver coins from the Royal Canadian Mint don’t grade high is because the quality of their coin is too high. Let me explain…

2014 Silver Maple Reverse

2014 Silver Maple Obverse

All Canadian Silver Maple Leafs are struck from .9999 fine silver. Although most other silver bullion coins are minted in .999 fine silver, that extra “9” makes a difference. While other coins will be comprised of a minute quantity of other metals, such as copper, the Canadian Silver Maple is just about as close to pure silver as you can get. As such, this makes the Silver Maple purer, but also softer. This causes the Silver Maple to be susceptible to dents, dings and scratches much easier than its peers.

Another factor that is working against the Silver Maple Leaf grading higher is the design and strike of the coin. The Royal Canadian Mint is at the forefront of minting technology and practices. Their coins have higher reliefs and intricate designs. For example, the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf has a deeper strike than other silver bullion coins, most notably on Queen Elizabeth II’s face/bust. This causes a slight contact area when the coins are shipped in their plastic tubes (the Queen’s face sits high because of the quality of the strike). Also, in 2014 the RCM introduced a new, highly-detailed radial finish on both sides of the Silver Maple. The intricacy of this new feature is easily scuffed when coins come into contact with each other.

The last design feature working against the coin is the extremely smooth finish around the rim of the Silver Maple. When being viewed in person, the rim of the coin is a beautiful feature that is very shiny and smooth, looking almost proof-like. It contrasts nicely with the textured field of the Silver Maple, and provides a great shine when light is reflected off of it. Not only is the smoothness easily dinged, but the width of the rim is wider than other comparable coins such as the American Silver Eagle. This wide, smooth, proof-like rim is an easy target for an imperfection such as a contact mark or ding.

2014-silvermaple-ms69-er-ngc-front (1)As you can see, the Silver Maple Leafs’ greatest asset is also its greatest hindrance when it comes to grading. With virtually no MS70 Silver Maple Leafs in existence, the MS69 is the next best thing when it comes to these coins. But public perception is a difficult entity to sway. Even an MS68 Silver Maple is a prize, but the phrase “Perfect-70” has been beaten into the heads of the public so the idea of an MS68 or MS69 coin is considered unworthy or tarnished. But in reality, getting a Certified Canadian Silver Maple in MS69 is exponentially more difficult than getting an American Silver Eagle in MS69. On average, when Golden Eagle sends in American Silver Eagle Monster Boxes for grading, we can hope to receive back around 10-15% in MS70 condition. Recently, we sent in a Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Monster Box for grading and didn’t receive a single MS69 back (we also didn’t receive a single MS70 – because they don’t exist). That is how difficult it is to acquire these coins in MS69. Just some food for thought.

 

 

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  1. Anthony Morales says:

    I actually own two ms70 maple leafs by pcgs :)

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