The face value of the 1 oz coin is 5 Canadian dollars, the highest among international silver bullion coins. During 2008, the market value of the coin was approximately 20 Canadian dollars. The market value in 2011 was above 30 Canadian dollars. The purity of the coin is 99.99% silver, also the highest among other bullion issues which have a 99.9% standard.
A common blemish that many Canadian Silver Maple Leaves carry is the "Milk Spot." It is a baked-in blemish that has a milky white appearance. This happens when a cleaning detergent is left on the coin when the coin goes into the annealing furnace. The detergent gets baked into the coin itself and leaves a spot that cannot be removed easily.
The coin always features a maple leaf and generally consists of 1 troy ounce (31.1 g) of silver. Annual variations for the coin in past have included proof releases (1989 only), privy marks, a coloured maple leaf (with a design different from the regular maple leaf), holographic enhancements and several differing designs, such as a 2009 issue commemorating the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The one universal element in all silver maple leaf coins is the phrase "Fine Silver 1 oz Argent Pur" along the bottom of the reverse of the coin.
Several notable issues have been released over the life of the series. A single-issue 10 oz version was produced in 1998 to mark the 10th anniversary of the coin series. In 1999, many but not all Silver Maple Leaf coins that were issued came with a privy mark to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the RCM Maple Leaf Program. The following year, the coins featured a Privy Mark with Fireworks and the number 2000. Another Silver Maple Leaf was issued to commemorate the Millennium. The coins were double dated 1999 and 2000.
Silver Maple Leafs differ from their Canadian Gold and Platinum Maple Leaf counterparts in that collector demand generates prices well above and beyond bullion value. In particular, the 1996 and 1997 versions fetched very high prices due to limited mintages (for example, in 1997 just under 101,000 Maple Leafs were minted, in comparison with more than 1.2 million minted in 1999 and the record 17.8 million minted for 2010).
Some of the privy marked Maple Leafs were available only in Europe. In 2005, the Liberation of the Netherlands triple privy silver Maple Leaf, the rarest of all the silver Maple Leaf coins was struck by the Royal Canadian Mint for the Royal Dutch Mint. The first coin produced by the facility, graded SP70 on the Sheldon scale, was to be presented to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. For the first time in 2009, the Silver Maple Leaf coins were not packaged in Mylar by the Royal Canadian Mint. Due to the high demand, the Silver Maple Leaf was packaged in tubes of 25.
Obverse: The profile of Queen Elizabeth II. There are three different versions, a young head version, an old head version, and an older head version. The year of issue and the face value of 5 dollars is also displayed on this side.
Reverse: Picture of a maple leaf. On some variations there are also a small privy mark on the lower half of the coin or colour enhancement.
There are also special edition R.C.M. coins called the 'Maple Leaf Forever' series, with there being three maple leaf symbols on the reverse. The mint has minted 100,000 of this design in 1/2 oz .9999 fine silver coins and 200 strikes of the same design in a large 60mm diameter .9999 fine gold coin. Many other Royal Canadian Mint coins feature maple leaf symbols, such as the $20 for $20 series, the 'Piedfort Maple' series, the 5 oz silver 25th anniversary coins, 1 oz silver 25th anniversary coins with gold guild clad (an identical coin is minted in 1 oz of .9995 fine platinum) and fractional 25th anniversary coins in silver and gold.