Five Rand (R5)

The Black Wildebeest or Gnu, is portrayed on the reverse of the R5 coin. They are found in the northern grassveld regions of the Cape Province, throughout the Orange Free State to KwaZulu-Natal and the southern regions of Gauteng. Wildebeest hides were at one stage an important commodity in Kwa-Zulu-Natal.Although South Africa’s first decimal coin series was released in 1961, no R5 coins were minted until 1994. In that year, two R5 coins were issued: the reverse of the first commemorated the Presidential Inauguration and that of the second depicted the Gnu (Black Wildebeest). Since 1996, South Africa’s 11 official languages have been acknowledged annually, in rotation, through the representation of the word.

Language rotation

2002 – isiNdebele/ Tshivenda
2003 – Tshivenda/ siSwati
2004 – siSwati/ Xitsonga
2005 – Xitsong/ English
2006 – English/ Setswana
2007 – Setswana/ Sepedi/Sesotho
2008 – Sepedi/Sesotho/ Afrikaans
2009 – Afrikaans/ isiXhosa
2010 – isiXhosa/ isiZulu
2011 – isiZulu/ isiNdebele
Note: The “old” R5 is still a legal tender coin


Two Rand (R2)

As part of the third decimal series, it was agreed that the Kudu be portrayed on South Africa’s first R2 circulation coin. Initially, a leopard design was considered for the R2 but it was decided that designs for the R1, R2 and R5 should be the antelope. The Kudu is known as the “King of the Antelope” because of its magnificent horns.

Language rotation

2002 – isiZulu and isiXhosa
2003 – isiNdebele and isiZulu
2004 – Tshivenda and isiNdebele
2005 – siSwati and Tshivenda
2006 – Xitsonga and siSwati
2007 – English and Xitsonga
2008 – Setswana and English
2009 – Sepedi/Sesotho andSetswana
2010 – Afrikaans and Sepedi/Sesotho
2011 – isiXhosa and Afrikaans


One Rand (R1)

The first Springbok appeared as long ago as 1947 as a true South African symbol on our silver crown size coins. The original design is still viewed as one of the best designs in the world. Based on the original artwork of one of South Africa’s famous sculptors, Coert Steynberg, the Springbok was used on various other South African coins. These were the gold one-pound and ½ pound coins, and later the gold R1 and R2 coins. From 1960 to 1964, the Springbok reappeared on the reverse of the 50c. This prancing buck was also chosen to be the symbol on the Krugerrand from 1967 to date. The Springbok was also depicted on the R1 nickel coins from 1977 – 1990. When introducing the current coin series in 1989, the Springbok was once again the chosen design for the reverse of the new smaller R1 coin. The words “SOLI DEO GLORIA” (“To God alone the Glory”) appear on the R1 coins. In 2002, The Johannesburg World Summit (a United Nations Convention) was held in South Africa. To commemorate this prestigious event, a couple of million “World Summit” R1 circulation coins were manufactured and put into circulation.

Language rotation

2002 – Afrikaans and Sepedi/Sesotho
2003 – isiXhosa and Afrikaans
2004 – isiZulu and isiXhosa
2005 – siNdebele and isiZulu
2006 -Tshivenda and isiNdebele
2007 – isiSwati and Tshivenda
2008 – Xitsonga and siSwati
2009 – English and Xitsonga
2010 – Setswana and English
2011 – Sepedi/Sesotho and Setswana


Fifty Cent (50c)

The Strelitzia (Strelitzia Reginae) Crane Flower or Bird-of-Paradise flower, occurs in the warm valleys of Zululand near the sea. With its long lasting, brilliant orange and blue flowers, this indigenous plant was introduced into cultivation in England towards the end of the 18th century and became a popular florist plant. This South African native has adapted so happily to foreign climates that it has even been adopted as the civic emblem of the American City of Los Angeles. The Strelitzia, together with the arum lily and blue agapanthus, first appeared on the 50c coin that was introduced in 1965 as part of the second decimal series. Representing the national flag, this flower design was modelled by Tommy Sasseen from a drawing by Cynthna Letty. With the introduction of South Africa’s third and current coin series, the Strelitzia is once again portrayed on the 50c coin. Die-sinker, Linda Lotriet modelled the design.

To commemorate South Africa’s participation in 2002 in the Soccer World Cup in Korea, more than 8 million 50c were made featuring “Soccer”. A soccer player dribbling the ball was depicted on the reverse of the coin. In 2003, in honour of South Africa’s participation, and its being the host country to the ICC Cricket World Cup South Africa 2003, a few million “Cricket” 50c circulation coins were manufactured and put into circulation. The reverse featured a player in the pose of catching the ball.

Language rotation

2002 – Setswana
2003 – Sepedi/Sesotho
2004 – Afrikaana
2005 – isiXhosa
2006 – isiZuli
2007 – isiNdebele
2008 – Tshivenda
2009 – siSwati
2010 –  Xitsonga
2011 – English


Twenty Cent (20c)

The remarkable South African flower, the Protea cynaroids was one of the first distinctive South African symbols that appeared on the tickey and sixpence coins from 1925 to 1960. With the introduction of South Africa’s first decimal series (1961 – 1964) the Protea was again depicted on the 2½c and 5c coins which were designed by the die-cutter, Kruger Gray. With the second decimal coin series (1965 – 1989), an outstanding South African horticultural artist, Cynthna Letty was responsible for the artwork. The new Protea design depicted the Protea plant with three flowers in various stages on the nickel 20c coin. Die-sinker Tommy Sasseen modelled the design from the original watercolour painting which can be viewed at the South African Mint museum. In 1989 the third decimal coin series was introduced and the Protea was selected for the new bronze plated 20c coin. Die-sinker, Susan Erasmus developed the design from the first artwork. In 1996, the design underwent a slight modification to accommodate a larger “20c” numeral on the coin.

Language rotation

2002 – English
2003 – Setswana
2004 – Sepedi/Sesotho
2005 – Afrikaana
2006 – isiXhosa
2007 – isiZuli
2008 – isiNdebele
2009 – Tshivenda
2010 – siSwati
2011 – Xitsonga


Ten Cent (10c)

The Arum Lily (Zantedeschia Aethiopica) is a distinguished South African flower. It originally appeared on the 50c coin from 1965 to 1989, as part of South Africa’s second decimal series. In 1989 the third decimal coin series was introduced and the Arum Lily was selected for the 10c coin. The design was developed from the original artwork by Cynthna Letty. The Arum Lily is also known as the white calla lily, aronskelk or varkblom (pig lily). The latter name is due to the fact that the plant’s nutritious rootstock is favoured by pigs and to some extent by porcupines. The plant is also used medicinally in various ways. The white Arum Lily can be evergreen or deciduous, depending on how much water is gets. The spathe (flower) varies in colour from white to cream and a green and white variation is also found in semi shaded areas.

Language rotation

2002 – Xitsonga
2003 – English
2004 – Setswana
2005 – Sepedi/Sesotho
2006 – Afrikaana
2007 – isiXhosa
2008 – isiZuli
2009 – isiNdebele
2010 – Tshivenda
2011 – siSwati


Five Cent (5c)

The Blue Crane (Anthropoides Paradisea) is our national bird and is found throughout the large Savannah areas of South Africa, usually near water. Each bird is about 105 cm tall with both sexes identical. Identification is easy because of the large head with dark brown irises and a pinkish bill. Nesting pairs seem to mate for life and use the same nesting sites. The Blue Crane population is thriving. As the Blue Crane is more-or-less confined to South Africa, it has been used only on South African coins. Our second decimal series. 1965 to 1990, had the Blue Crane on the nickel 5c and it was retained on the copper plated 5c on the third decimal series, but with a redesigned image. The Blue Crane portrayed on the reverse of the South African 5c was modeled by G Richard; the obverse was modeled by A Sutherland. The design was developed from an original artwork by the well-known artist, Dick Findley. The artwork is on display at the South African Mint’s museum.

Language rotation

2002 – siSwati
2003 – Xitsonga
2004 – English
2005 – Setswana
2006 – Sepedi/Sesotho
2007 – Afrikaana
2008 – isiXhosa
2009 – isiZuli
2010 – isiNdebele
2011 – Tshivenda