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Canada tries out small gold coin

The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the most savvy marketing organizations in the world.

Yet I can’t quite wrap my mind around the concept behind a new product announced last week.

The RCM is now selling gold Maple Leaf bullion coins in a 1-gram size. The current U.S. dime is 2.27 grams.

It takes 31.103 grams to equal a troy ounce. That gives it a price point far lower than a one-ounce bullion coin.

At gold’s present value of $1,206 a troy ounce, a 1-gram gold coin has a melt value of $38.77. That figure is an attractive price point for low-budget bullion investors, putting the coin in the same realm as a 1-ounce silver bullion coin in terms of affordability.

Yet the price point seems immaterial as the 1-gram coins come packaged like pills in sets of 25 pieces.

That would give the 25-coin pack a melt value of $969.36, which seems to defeat the purpose of a low individual coin price point.

The RCM says such a set is “highly attractive to first-time precious metal buyers and seasoned investors alike.”

The set is called the Maplegram25TM and each coin is almost pure gold, at the RCM’s signature 99.99 percent purity.

Face value of each coin is 50 cents, but that of course is the usual fiction to convey legal-tender status to the pieces.

As a coin collector who knows that below a certain weight, the public tends to shun coins like the 0.75-gram U.S. silver 3-cent piece, the 1.34-gram half dime and even the 1.672-gram gold U.S. dollar, I can’t help but wonder how gold buyers will respond to tiny gold gram coins housed in a blister card that can be divided up like it contained allergy medicine.

The card is more appealing. According to the RCM, it “individually serializes each coin for added security and authenticity. The card fits in a branded protective sleeve on which is printed an assay certificate certifying the purity and weight of the coins.”

As I wrote at the beginning, I cannot yet wrap my mind around this new product, but because it comes from an organization that is top notch, I know that there is a good reason for the mint to have created it.

I look forward to seeing how the new coins fare in the marketplace.

They will be sold through the RCM’s network of bullion dealers.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."