Gold coins from South Africa: Krugerrand, Big Five, Natura and Protea
Known silver and gold coins from South Africa
Gold coins from South Africa are known worldwide, absolutely sought after and guaranteed beautiful!
When thinking of gold coins from Africa, many immediately think of Krugerrand gold coins(Krugerrand in English). Thereby, the South African gold coins, just like silver coins, come from the SA Mint(South African Mint) and have other “siblings”, such as the coins of gold and silver coins of the Big Five series, Natura gold coins as sets and of course the beautiful Protea gold coins series.
The South African Mint (SA Mint) is responsible for minting all coins of the South African Rand on behalf of its owner, the South African Reserve Bank. The numismatic department of the South African Mint produces high-quality proof products (PP = polished plate) especially for the premium investment and coin collector market. These are mainly gold coins and coins made of silver. Once there was a platinum coin limited to 2017 copies in 2017. All Proof issues are published in limited editions. Thus, the South African special edition gold coins, silver and platinum coins are in great demand.
As is well known, the first Krugerrand gold coins were minted on July 3, 1967. At that time they were still sold in original SA Mint paper bags. They were the first of their kind. The coins are legal tender in the Republic of South Africa and have no face value. Instead, its price is set daily and was based on the trading price of gold. In other words, they were gold coins with variable value.
Each of the first 40,000 pieces was minted with a diameter of 32.77 mm, a thickness of 2.84 mm, a weight of 33.9305 g, and a fineness of 0.917 pure gold, but the actual gold content was exactly one troy ounce or 31.11 g. The alloy was the same as for the British sovereigns, i.e. it contained 8.33% copper. Since 1967, the diameter and thickness have changed slightly. In 55 years, more than 61 million coins were minted, equivalent to 58 million ounces of gold.
The Krugerrand was named after the South African politician Paul Kruger as well as the Rand, the legal tender of South Africa since 1961.
The portrait of Paul Kruger is by Otto Schulz, engraver and coin sculptor at the Berlin Mint, where the first coins for the “Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek” were produced in 1892. Schulze’s designs appeared on the obverse of all Boer coins from 1892-1897.
South African sculptor Kert Steinberg created the image of the springbok antelope for the back of the Krugerrand. This antelope is the national animal of the South African Republic. This motif has also been adopted from existing South African coins: from the reverse of the Union of South Africa’s 5-shilling silver coin, the gold pound coin, and the Boer Republic’s gold rim and 2-rim coin. Steinberg’s picture shows the animal in a jump. All four legs are in the air at the same time. Tommy Sassen, one of South Africa’s first engravers and sculptors, had the task of transferring the images created by Schultz and Steinberg onto the 1967 Krugerrand.
New denominations from 1980
The demand was so great that in 1980 additional Krugerrands with smaller weights came onto the market: ½ ounce, ¼, 1/10 ounce. These coins were very popular, especially the smallest 1/10 ounce.
You can currently find the Krugerrand gold coin in 1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 1 ounce, 2 ounces and a special mintage of 5 ounces.
The silver Krugerrand was first introduced in 2017 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Krugerrand. The 2017 silver Krugerrand has a commemorative inscription on the reverse.
Over the years, several variants of the Krugerrand were produced, as well as smaller coins. These coins have distinctive markings. Not all of them are commemorative or collectible coins. Others are special editions.
These include the unique Krugerrand coins minted outside the South African Mint. They were coined Gold Reef City, an amusement park built on the site of a former mine in Johannesburg. It contains real mine buildings and a replica of the former office of the British Royal Mint in Pretoria. The latter has recreated the actual mint of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek where the coins were struck.
In 1987, the South African Mint entered into a contract with the park that allowed it to mint gold Krugerrands with the abbreviation of the amusement park’s mint (Gold Reef City = GRC). The first coin was issued on January 30, 1987: Krugerrand with a weight of 1, ½, ¼ and 1/10 ounce were on sale. From 1988, the obverses were minted in Pretoria. The partially minted coins were delivered to the amusement park’s mint for completion. The series, also known as the GRC edition, was discontinued in 1991.
SAGCE (South African Gold Coin Exchange)
From the early days of 1967 up to and including 1991, grading and certification of Krugerrand coins was offered by the SA Gold Coin Exchange. Then, from the beginning of 1988, there was only one grading and certification of GRC (Gold Reef City) coins. Learn more here: https://www.rarecoin.de/blog/sagce-south-african-gold-coin-exchange/
List of other Krugerrand special editions in Proof (PP/Polished Plate)
Embossing details in parentheses:
1997 – 30th anniversary (330)
1997 – Sabi Sabi, “SS” on the back (72)
2001 – Coin World and South African Coin World, logo “Coin World” and Uncle Paul on the back (395)
2002 – Basel Coin World, “RSA” on the back (600)
2003 – Centenary of the settlement of Cullinan, “CULLINAN” on the reverse (498)
2004 – Kruger signature on the front (499)
2005 – Star of Africa, inscription “STAR OF AFRICA” on the back (374)
2006 – Berlin World’s Money Fair, logo on the back (1065)
2007 – 40th anniversary of the issue of the coin (395)
2008 – Kruger National Park, “110 YEARS” on the back (318)
2009 – historical railroad, locomotive designation “2650/19D” on the back (361)
2010 – Berlin World’s Money Fair, logo on the back (302)
2016 – 90 years Queen Elizabeth II (260)
2017 – 50th anniversary Mintmark (5000)
Collectors need to be aware that there are some variants of gold Krugerrand coins on the market that were intended for a special series, but were not minted and approved by the South African Mint. An example of this is the partially sloppy colored Krugerrand 2005 with a diamond and the inscription “Star of Africa” above the springbok. The South African Mint has never produced a colored Krugerrand, which is why this coin is considered a counterfeit legal tender.
The genuine variants of the coin are listed in Brian Hern’s Handbook on South African Coins & Patterns (privately published).
Privy Mark Krugerrand
The Privy Mark Krugerrand gold coins are special mintings for certain occasions such as minting anniversaries. You can recognize these very limited proof special mintings by small marks on the payment side of the coins above or below the year of mintage.
South African Big Five Gold and Silver Coins
These coins are available individually and as beautiful Big Five sets. Series I starts in 2019 and ended in the summer of 2021. Series II began in the fall of 2021 and will be completed by the end of 2023.
Protea collector coins in gold and silver
Protea is a collector coin in gold and silver from South Africa. The South African SA Mint produces a series of “Protea” coins in two different sizes to commemorate South Africa’s rich history. The front shows a picture of the king protea, the national flower of South Africa. The reverse features annually changing coin images of sports, African politics and South African history.
Natura Gold Prestige and Proof Sets
Natura gold coins are issued since 1994. These are gold coins in proof quality in special minting technique with animal motifs. Natura setscan be found as a 4-coin set with 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz gold in a wooden or leather box. From 1995 including certificate of the South African Mint.
Sell rare gold coins
If you would like to sell your rare gold coins from South Africa or even like to sell individual coins made of gold, we look forward to hearing from you. We like to buy special gold coins, because rare South African gold coins are looking for their new home and we make sure that they end up in appreciative hands.