All the excitement of a hunt… and so much more. The South African Mint aims to bring joy and pride to both novice and expert collectors and academics alike.

Coin collection and appreciation is a hobby that began around the fourteenth century and became a trend among some members of the privileged classes like kings and queens during the Renaissance. It is the collecting of coins or other forms of minted legal tender, usually including coins in circulation, coins with mint errors as well as beautiful or historically significant pieces.

Numismatics, on the other hand, is the systemic collection and study of coins, currencies, medals, tokens, securities and other payment methods that have been used in the past to exchange goods and services.

Although coin collecting and numismatics are often used interchangeably, the former pursuit is a hobby and the latter is a study of the physical attributes of coins and currencies with historical, cultural, political and economic approaches.

Collecting seems to be a common human impulse which underlies many popular hobbies. When collecting coins, the attraction ranges from the coins’ intrinsic beauty, through their high standard of craftsmanship, design and metal makeup (some including precious metals like gold, silver or platinum), to their historical significance.

World-renowned South African author and numismatist, Professor Francois Malan, says that his hobby of coin collecting began as a child when the urge to collect something, anything, often strikes. He started collecting the coins in circulation, looking to find examples of coins from the various minting dates and trying to get examples of all coins from a series. Later, he began to take an interest in the historical context of the coins, learning about where they were minted and what they were commemorating.

Coins have long been used to teach in ancient Roman history, and the possibility for them to be used to introduce the complex history of South Africa to pupils is undeniable. Complex concepts like economics and monetary policy could also benefit from the use of coins in education.

“The link between coins and history is fascinating,” says Professor Malan. “It is incredible to hold a 200-year-old coin in your hand and try to imagine the conditions under which the coin was used in a particular country at a given time. A collection such as the Lost Hoard, released by the South African Mint recently, is such a fantastic offering as it stirs up the curiosity of a link with the famous ‘Kruger Millions’.”.

Coins can also be used to teach and learn about a country’s heritage. Former treasurer of the Natal Numismatic Society, Anthony Govender, has been an avid numismatist since his youth, and believes in a country’s heritage being depicted on its coins. “I strongly feel that, because South Africa is so diverse, we should acknowledge all sectors when it comes to heritage, so that we can attract not just investors but ‘the man in the street’ as well, who wants to buy an item commemorating an event pertinent to their own heritage.”

The products created by the South African Mint act as ambassadors of the country and its heritage, as they tell uniquely South African stories about the place, the people and the legacy, which also resonate universally around the world.

The award-winning Big 5 coin programme is testament to this. The exquisitely crafted coin range celebrates and focuses on the graceful beauty of the regal Big 5 animals. The selection gives collectors an opportunity to own not only a beautiful icon of Africa’s unique natural heritage, but also a modern piece with the potential of historical significance in years and decades to come.

Another passionate collector and Director at the Gold Reef City Mint in Johannesburg, Glenn Schoeman, says that his coin collection is his ‘happy place’ where he becomes totally absorbed and the stresses of the day are forgotten. It has long been recognised that hobbies have positive benefits; a study in 2010 indicated that hobbies and leisure pursuits were associated with lower blood pressure, body mass and stress hormones. Pursuing a hobby may also be linked with reduced chances of depression.

Our recent experience with the stress and anxiety created by the uncertainty of the global COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the new living and working norms we have had to adapt to, has certainly highlighted the positive effects of hobbies. Deprived of the easy stimulation of going out or driving to the office, people took up a range of activities to help them achieve balance − all that sourdough-bread making, macrame and yoga indicated that we instinctively know that being taken out of ourselves is a good thing.

These challenging but interesting times have also given many an opportunity to engage with and collect coins, as this can be done from the comfort of your own home. With a bit more time on their hands, people looking for beautiful, timeless value have turned to coin collecting and numismatics as a hobby, and versatile pieces like the Krugerrand are among the most popular choices as they attract interest from those looking for a store of value or collecting for sentimental reasons.

The world’s first and most widely traded bullion coin, the Krugerrand, is available in both bullion and proof quality as well as in a range of denominations and metals, making it very attainable.