2440.48
20.09
31.64
0.02
1086.6
10.57
1043.06
28.45

Gold Eagle vs Krugerrand vs Maple Leaf

Posted on September 25, 2021

The three most popular gold bullion coins globally — the American gold eagle, South African Krugerrand, and Canadian maple leaf — vie for the affection of coin collectors and investors alike. All three have their own merits and warrant a closer look.

Gold American Eagle

gold american eagle obverseSporting Lady Liberty on the front and a family of bald eagles on the back, the gold eagle has been a mainstay in coin collecting since its first minting in 1986. It weighs in at 1.09 troy oz and 91.67% pure gold with 5.3% copper and 3% silver (and contains 1 troy ounce of gold in total). While the 1 troy oz eagle is the most popular, the coin also comes in sizes of 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz. Over the years, the U.S. Mint has produced 18.7 million gold eagle coins.

This coin got a redesign in 2021 for its 35th anniversary. While the image of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Lady Liberty is still depicted, it received a refresh based on the original sculpture and dies to add more detail and vibrancy to the coin. The Mint also updated the eagle’s design with a more detailed image of a bald eagle on the reverse side which now features a close-up portrait shot of the fierce creature. Designer Jennie Norris noted, “I was hoping to capture the intensity of his stare through the close cropping.”

Interestingly, the gold eagle and the Krugerrand share the same 22kt gold purity.

South African Gold Krugerrand

gold krugerrand obverseThe South African Krugerrand is a very well-known coin that dates back to 1967 when it became the first modern bullion coin. In a sense, the Krugerrand is the grandfather of both the gold eagle and the maple leaf. 

Its name came about as a mashup of former South African President Paul Kruger and the nation’s fiat currency, the rand — hence “Krugerrand”. The coin is refined by the South African Mint and minted by the Rand Refinery located in Germiston, South Africa. The Krugerrand displays former President Paul Kruger on the obverse and a springbok, a gazelle native to South Africa, on the obverse. 

At 91.67% purity, the Krugerrand also contains 8.3% copper alloy for durability. The proportion of copper in this 22kt gold alloy gives the Krugerrand its distinctive reddish tint  Sizes for the coin include 1 troy oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz. An interesting thing to note about the Krugerrand is that while the coin has no face value, it still is considered legal tender in South Africa, and valued at the spot price for 1 oz of gold. 

Canadian Gold Maple Leaf

Gold Maple Leaf ObverseOriginally minted in 1979, the gold maple leaf was the first modern 24-karat gold coin. The obverse shows a profile of Queen Elizabeth II with the reverse side displaying a maple leaf, a Canadian cultural symbol in use since at least 1700. 

In 1982, the Royal Canadian Mint raised the coin’s purity from 99.9% to 99.99% gold, making it one of the purest gold bullion coins in the world. Gold maple leaf coins are minted in 1 troy oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz. Because the Royal Canadian Mint does not release production figures, it’s impossible to know the accurate supply of gold maple leaf coins on the market.

Similarities

Collectors often group these three coins as they are quite similar. From the numbers, it might seem that the maple leaf has more gold than the Krugerrand and the eagle. However, the standard weight of both the Krugerrand and eagle are 1.09 troy oz compared to 1 troy oz for the maple leaf. This extra 0.09 troy oz accounts for the alloy in the gold Krugerrand and gold eagle coins, which brings their total gold content to the same as the gold maple leaf – 1 troy ounce.

This is pretty much always true when talking about gold coins: when we say “1 oz” we’re  referring to the quantity of gold in the coin, not the overall weight of the coin itself (learn more here).

Differences

While these gold bullion coins differ in their design, there are other slight differences in their makeup that distinguish them from one another: 

  • The Krugerrand has a distinctive red color due to its 8.3% copper alloy, while the gold eagle has more of a yellow tint because of its silver and copper alloy. The maple leaf is the most yellow as it contains the highest purity of gold.
  • The gold maple leaf is a 24-karat bullion coin with 99.99% purity, while the eagle and Krugerrand are 22-karat at 91.67% purity. 
  • Because its purity is higher than that of the other two coins, the maple leaf weighs 1 troy oz, less than the eagle and Krugerrand, which weigh 1.09 oz.
  • The gold eagle is the thickest of the three, at 2.87 mm, followed by the Krugerrand at 2.84 mm, and the maple leaf at 2.80 mm. 
  • The Krugerrand has the largest diameter (32.77 mm), followed by the eagle (32.70 mm), and the maple leaf (30 mm).

Pricing

The gold eagle trades at a premium on the bullion trading market compared to the Krugerrand and the maple leaf, which often sell at similar prices. The gold eagle has a lower production of only 18.7 million coins in total to date, well below the 60 million gold Krugerrand coins minted over the years. 

While the supply of gold maple leaf coins is unknown, trading of the coin is quite popular. Therefore, the supply of the coin on the market makes its value slightly lower than the other two coins.

Comparing the three

Coin

Gold Eagle

Gold Krugerrand

Gold Maple Leaf

First Produced

1986

1967

1979

Obverse

Lady Liberty

South African President Paul Kruger

Queen Elizabeth II

Reverse

Family of bald eagles

Springbok gazelle

Maple leaf

Weights

1/10, 1/4, 1/2, & 1 troy ounce

1/10, 1/4, 1/2, & 1 troy ounce

1/10, 1/4, 1/2, & 1 troy ounce

Diameter

32.70 mm

32.77 mm

30 mm

Thickness

2.87 mm

2.84 mm

2.80 mm

Karat

22-karat

22-Karat

24-karat

Purity

91.67%

91.67%

99.99%

Alloy Composition

Silver and copper

Copper 

N/A

Weight

1.09 troy oz

1.09 troy oz

1 troy oz

Face Value

$50

None

CAD $50

Available for purchase in an IRA

Yes

No

Yes

Producing Mint

U.S. Mint

South African Mint

Royal Canadian Mint