The Krugerrand has always roused interest among coin enthusiasts and the general public. This is not surprising. Gold has captivated humankind for centuries, and gold coins represent wealth and prestige. The Krugerrand’s classic design kindles memories of a bygone era and symbolises the romance and allure of gold.
This iconic legal tender was launched in 1967. It contains one troy ounce of pure gold. In 1980, the fractional Krugerrands – of 1/2oz, 1/4oz and 1/10oz – were added to this historic coin series.
The design on the obverse of each of the four coins dates back to the county’s first circulation coin series introduced in 1892 by the then President of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek, Paul Kruger. His bust, featured on the Kruger pounds and shillings, was created by the die-engraver Otto Schultz. The reverse design of the prancing springbok, South Africa’s national animal, was modelled by Coert Steynberg. It was originally created for the commemorative 5-shilling coin issued in 1947 to celebrate the visit of the British Royal Family to South Africa.
The name ‘Krugerrand’ comes from Paul Kruger and the rand, the monetary unit of South Africa, which is associated with the Witwatersrand, ‘the ridge of white water’, the gold-producing area discovered in 1886. The discovery of this gold reef changed the history of South Africa. Overnight, a hub of commerce was established as thousands flocked to the country. An era of unprecedented expansion began. South Africa became the world’s biggest gold producer. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, 75 per cent of the world’s gold was produced here. The promotion of gold was considered vital, not least as an investment, following the collapse of the Gold Standard in 1971.
The vehicle chosen to drive demand was the Krugerrand, which was developed in the 1960s by the Chamber of Mines working closely with the South African Reserve Bank and the South African Mint. The Krugerrand was the world’s first ounce-denominated gold coin. It was mass-produced to enable everyone to purchase gold easily – and at a low premium above the gold price.
Although Krugerrands are legal tender, they have never recorded a face value. The value of each coin is directly related to the prevailing value of its gold content.
Today, Krugerrands are issued as bullion coins and as proof quality collectors’ coins.
This Krugerrand Prestige Set contains the four proof quality coins issued in 2015 as a limited edition.
The South African Mint honours The Life of a Legend: Nelson Mandela on its Protea coin series. Introduced in 2013, a different chapter of Mr Mandela’s life is portrayed annually on the three coins.
The 2015 sterling-silver R1 Protea coin symbolises Nelson Mandela’s personal growth and transformation from an inexperienced youth who had run away from his privileged home with the royal family of the Thembu people to seek his fortune in the City of Gold to a young man who came to rely on his inner strength and abilities.
This theme is continued on the 2015 pure-gold R25 (1oz) Protea coin which shows a more mature and self-assured Nelson Mandela as a young man whose evolving views, beliefs and character would eventually lead him to the presidency of a democratic South Africa.
The background design of both coins features some of the names of the former President’s friends and mentors during these difficult years in Johannesburg. They supported him, gave him opportunities, offered guidance, introduced him to new ideas, and acquainted him with the various social and political sectors within Johannesburg society. One of these companions would become a lifelong friend and mentor, Walter Sisulu.
The 2015 pure-gold R5 (1/10oz) Protea coin features a quotation from the speech that Tata Madiba gave at Walter Sisulu’s 90th birthday celebration: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
On the common obverse, Nelson Mandela is shown wearing a trademark Madiba shirt which is surrounded by South Africa’s national flower, the King Protea.
Greater consciousness on how we interact with nature has developed in the last half-century. UNESCO launched the Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1971 ‘to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources’. South Africa participates in this international initiative; it has six biosphere reserves.
The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (KBR) was registered in 1998. The map on the common obverse of the four coins indicates its location in the Western Cape Province. An enlarged map shows the reserve, which covers land and sea.
The Biosphere series consists of two R2 (1/4oz) pure-gold coins and two R2 sterling-silver coins, each featuring different aspects of the KBR.
The first gold coin shows the unspoiled mountains of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. This is the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the world’s most diverse and abundant floral area. The Marsh Rose (Orothamnus zeyheri) and the Cape Mountain Leopard (Panthera pardus) appear on the coin, as does a cabin of the Oudebosch Mountain Camp, an eco-friendly tourism facility with minimal impact on the sensitive environment.
The second gold coin focuses on the iconic species living on the shoreline of the Kogelberg Marine Park The African Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini) forages for mussels in the rocky intertidal zone while the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) glides through the Atlantic Ocean before returning to the breeding colony at Stony Point. The Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis) makes its home in fresh-water rivers, estuaries and lakes.
The first sterling-silver coin depicts the Elgin Valley, once a wildlife haven for large herds of antelope and a home to San hunters and Khoi pastoralists. Early pioneers established farms in this area, from which developed the largest fresh-produce export industry in southern Africa. The valley is best known for its apples and pears, depicted on the coin with an African Honey Bee (Apis mellifera scutellata). Hills covered in orchards appear in the background.
The second sterling-silver coin represents the importance of responsible marine management. The 1800s and 1900s saw the development of the fishing industry in the area. The high demand for whale products had brought the Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) to the brink of extinction. Today, South Africa enforces the ban on whaling and supports the growing whale-watching ecotourism. The survival of the Abalone (Haliotis midae) depends on the protection of breeding communities and the strict control of its harvesting.
Ensuring the survival of our natural environment while sustaining our use of this asset is a complex balancing act.
The R1 (1/10oz) pure-gold coin features one of South Africa’s iconic reptiles: the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). This is the first coin in the ‘Reptiles of South Africa’ series, which pays tribute to the country’s extraordinarily diverse reptile fauna.
The Nile crocodile is the only crocodile species in southern Africa. Fewer than an estimated 12 000 remain in protected natural areas.
The animal is one of the largest living reptiles; it grows to 3 metres in the wild. Its robust body and tail are covered with horny scales. The reptile has a long snout with large teeth, and its eyes and nostrils protrude from the water when the crocodile floats just below the surface.
Active day and night, Nile crocodiles inhabit rivers, lakes, swamps and estuaries. They often bask in the sun, their mouths agape. At night they move into water to keep warm. This is also when they do most of their hunting; adult Nile crocodiles prey on fish, large mammals and birds.
The Nile crocodile belongs to the Crocodylia order. Besides birds, it is the only living representative of the ancient group Archosauria, which emerged over 220 million years ago.
The Natura pure-gold coin series was launched in 1994. It has become one of the SA Mint’s most sought-after coin collections, winning many international awards. A new theme within the series, ‘Nocturnal Hunters’, was introduced in 2014; the first predator to feature on the coins was the leopard. In 2015, the black-backed jackal is depicted.
The fossil records of the black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) found in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania date back two million years. Today, this ancient form of canid has adapted to a wide range of habitats, from city suburbs to the desert. Its versatility has earned it a reputation of cunningness and superior intelligence.
Also referred to as the silver-back or red jackal, the black-backed jackal has a reddish-brown coat and a black-tipped bushy tail; the fur on its back is a striking blend of silver and black while the underparts are white. The dog-like head, pointed muzzle and upstanding pointed ears are a deep russet red.
The portrait of a black-backed jackal features on the obverse of the 1oz coin in the ‘Nocturnal Hunters’ theme of 2015, together with the year ‘2015’ and the words ‘South Africa’.
On the reverse of each coin, different aspects of the black-backed jackal’s behaviour are shown. The R100 (1oz) coin depicts the jackal lying lazily on its front paws. On the R50 (1/2oz) coin, a jackal pair which has mated for life is featured. The R20 (1/4oz) coin shows a black-backed jackal hunting for rodents while the R10 (1/10oz) coin portrays a mother jackal with her pup.
Due to its striking appearance and wide distribution, the black-backed jackal is one of Africa’s most common and best-known predators. These versatile hunters are mainly active during the night, often spotted at dawn or at dusk, and their haunting call is a typical sound in the African bush at night.
The moon represents the ‘Nocturnal Hunters’ theme of 2015 and unifies the four coins in the Natura series.
South Africa has developed a more holistic approach to conservation to preserve its natural environment while ensuring the sustainable use of the country’s fauna and flora to the benefit of its people. The South African government has established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve South Africa’s offshore biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of its marine resources.
In 2013, this four-coin sterling-silver series featured the iSimangaliso MPA in the Delagoa bioregion, followed by the KwaZulu-Natal MPAs in 2014. In 2015, the MPAs in the Agulhas bioregion are represented.
A pair of Cape gannets (Morus capensis) greeting each other is portrayed on the 50c (2oz) coin, with a group of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus). The Betty’s Bay MPA and the Bird Island MPA offer protection to many seabirds and the endemic species living in the subtidal habitat.
A southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) and her calf are depicted on the 20c (1oz) coin. The exploitation of these majestic mammals brought the species to the brink of extinction. Today, South Africa protects all whales and encourages ecotourism. During winter, people flock to the Cape to watch the antics of the whales as they seek out sheltered bays to give birth and rear their young.
Another protected species whose numbers are increasing is the Cape or South African fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) portrayed on the 10c (1/2oz) coin. Unlike the mother’s golden-brown colouring, the pup has a black velvety coat. Its distinctive call and scent enable the mother to find it when she returns to the breeding colony after a foraging trip. The pup is dependent on its mother for about 10 months while it learns to forage and hunt on its own.
MPAs offer sanctuaries to entire ecosystems where smaller creatures are as fascinating as the more prominent members of these underwater communities. The exquisitely beautiful basket star (Astrocladus euryale) appears on the 5c (1/4oz) coin. Its 10 arms branch into ever-finer, delicate tendrils which it holds outstretched like a basket to catch passing animals. Its circular body is decorated with coarse knobs which, surrounded by black, create a striking colour contrast with the lighter body. These brittlestars can grow to 30-50cm.
The four coins symbolise South Africa’s extraordinary coastal ecosystems with their unique and varied habitat, fauna and flora.
The R2 Crown and 2½c Tickey sterling silver coins series was introduced in 1997. The current theme is “Trains of South Africa”. In 2012, the first of the trains to be portrayed was the Gautrain, followed by the diesel electric locomotives in 2013 and the electric locomotives and trains in 2014. The steam-powered locomotives are featured on the 2015 coins.
The first completed track for a steam-powered locomotive was built by the Natal Railway Company between the city (then town) of Durban and Harbour Point. The official opening took place on 26 June 1860, with the first steam train journey in South Africa taking about 5 minutes to cover the modest distance of 3,2km. This short journey was the beginning of the construction of a widespread South African railway service which was largely completed by 1910.
The class 15F steam locomotive is featured on the sterling silver R2 Crown. The class 15 was introduced by Chief Mechanical Engineer Hendrie in 1914 and formed part of the South African Railways’ (SAR) large mixed traffic locomotives for use on main lines. The class 15 became the best known and most successful of the main line locomotive types, with no less than 563 engines being supplied to SAR over a period of 34 years. The obverse of the R2 Crown features the South African National Coat of Arms and the words ‘2015’ and ‘South Africa’ written in all eleven official languages.
The 2½c Tickey features the class 19D steam locomotive on the reverse. The versatile class 19D locomotive was used for branch and main lines, as well as for shunting work all over South Africa. Two hundred and thirty five engines were built for SAR, of which the first order from the company Krupp, Borsig and Skoda was delivered between 1937 and 1939. The class 19D locomotives were among the last of the steam locomotives to be replaced by electric and diesel-electric traction. The obverse of the 2½c Tickey features the words ‘2015’ and ‘South Africa’, as well as the protea which first appeared on the threepence of 1925, modelled by Kruger Gray.