Richard Stone

Richard Stone, South African Mint Product Manager.

Johannesburg, South Africa, June 2018: Imagine a hobby that enhances your appreciation of topics as diverse as local legends, inventions, nature and the environment. One, in whose pursuance you never stop learning. The South African Mint, a subsidiary of South African Reserve Bank has been curating and presenting to the world, the country’s rich tapestry of culture and history of which it is the custodian of coins that reflect interpretations of the past and present.

The South African Mint produces legal tender circulation coins, investment coins (the world-famous Krugerrand) as well as a range of limited edition collectable coins in premium precious metals as well as more affordable metal alloys. In executing its strategy, the Mint proudly collaborates with local artists to bring to life its diverse portfolio of commemorative and collectable coins.

Led by Richard Stone, the Mint’s product development team is responsible for seeing each coin through the rigorous theme conception, design and ultimately, the Cabinet approval process. As collectable coins are legal tender, new designs must be authorised by the South African Cabinet.

In the world of collectable coins, looks sell. The Mint’s ornate rendition on coins boasts of rich diversity of themes from South African Inventions to Biosphere Reserves. Last year the Mint launched a sterling silver commemorative coin celebrating the 50th anniversary of the world’s first successful human heart transplant as well as full colour silver, laser printed coins featuring the birds and flowers of biosphere reserves both of which proved to be highly popular among new coin collectors.

These and other popular coins which have been produced by Stone’s team are beautiful collectors’ pieces which inspire pride in South Africa.

“Our products are conversation starters. When you hold one of our coins, you cannot help but share the story,” says Stone. Our cross-disciplinary collaborations with different industries and artists has also elevated our designs into fine art form – opening an entirely new revenue stream, gifting.

“Coins are increasingly being considered for gifting, given they are permanent in nature.”

The Celebrating South Africa series, which was introduced by the Mint in 2017 to commemorate South Africa’s various symbols of Freedom, Democracy and Culture, was one such opportunity which allowed for a collaboration with a local designer.

Richard Stone

Contemporary illustrator and multi-disciplinary graphic artist, Sindiso Nyoni was commissioned to design the portraits of Nelson Mandela, featured on the new 2018 Mandela Centenary coins, as well as the portraits of OR Tambo, featured on last year’s issue commemorating his centenary. Nyoni’s association with the Mint dates back to 2015, when he was commissioned to design three silver medallions to celebrate 100 years of the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG).

“It has been an honour for me to be invited to celebrate our heroes. Immersing myself in the life and times of Mandela provided me with clarity of thought and sparked the inspiration that stayed with me throughout this collaboration,” says Nyoni.

Nyoni’s artistry brings out Mandela’s youth and his statesman like disposition with effortless skill applied with so much sincerity, it gives the designs a life like demeanour.

“As part of the collaborative creative process, our own design team which includes Lilian Guerra, our senior design artist, the die-development team and myself, then translate drawings we receive as part of our coin programs into a base relief model. The team likes to present a fresh take, to keep things relevant and give it currency so it appeals to new collectors and old,” adds Stone.

Over the years, minting technology has evolved from using a hammer and anvil to the most current technology where hydraulic presses are used to strike the coins. While the average South African is only concerned if the vending machine will accept the coin or not, coin collectors and numismatists are very interested in the minting process.

Coin collectors are in the game for pride and accomplishment more than return on investment. So designs must not only meet their expectations as far as craftsmanship and quality are concerned but also stand up to durability and be relevant to the times.

“Whether your interests are thematic, or piqued more by the metallurgy or universal appeal of certain coin series, our offering caters to any collector’s tastes. We also make coins in bronze, silver and circulation coins in proof quality so you really don’t have to be wealthy to start a coin collection,” says Stone in conclusion.

“We view our coins as global ambassadors of South Africa and its heritage. In creating our coins, we tell stories about our country, our people and our legacy – these stories are always uniquely South African, yet they resonate universally around the world.”

The full 2018 Mandela Centenary coin range comprises of a 1 oz (24ct) gold R500 coin, a 1 oz sterling-silver R50 coin, and a bronze alloy R50 coin which are all available for purchase at the South African Mint in Centurion, Elegance Jewellers in Melrose Arch as well as various weekend pop-up shops in malls across the country.

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