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The Short, Colorful History of South African Coinage


1892 South African Penny PCGS Secure MS64BN

Originally settled by the Dutch in the mid-1600s, South Africa eventually became a colony of Great Britain in 1806. In the 1830s South African farmers, called the Boers, migrated north to escape British rule. They established the Boer Republics of the Transvaal which consisted of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek in 1852 and the Orange Free State in 1854. Unfortunately, the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Boer region and Britain's desire to take control of the area brought about the Boer Wars in 1880-81 and 1899-1902. The result was the incorporation of the Boer republics under British rule. South Africa did not receive its independence from Great Britain until 1931. The Republic of South Africa, as we know it today, has existed since 1961.


1894 South African Pond PCGS Secure MS64+

Collecting South African coins can be fun because of the distinct periods in the country's history. A really intriguing series are the South African Griquatown tokens. The Griqua were migratory natives who intermarried with the Dutch colonists. In the early 1800s, a group from the London Missionary Society established Griquatown. In 1900, the town ceased to exist when it was ransacked by the British in the Boer wars. The tokens, featuring a stylistic dove flying with an olive branch in its mouth are undated but were assumed to have been made between 1815 and 1819 in both circulation strikes and proof. In 1890, patterns in copper and nickel for the Victoria penny were minted which featured the bust of Queen Victoria. In both cases, the coins are listed by Krause in the Standard Catalog of World Coins, but to date, PCGS has never graded a single example.


1952 South African Penny PCGS Secure PR66RD

South Africa's first official coinage came from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek and whose monetary value was based on the Pound. Paul Kruger, third state president of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900, appeared on the obverse of all coins struck between 1892 and 1900. Exceptions occurred in 1874 when the rare gold Pond (Pound) depicted President Thomas Francois Burgers who preceded Kruger. And in 1902 the obverse displayed the ZAR monogram, the symbol for the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. To date, PCGS has not graded any of the ZAR specimens. On the other hand, most of the Kruger examples are highly collectible, although buyers need to beware of counterfeits.


1923 South African Shilling PCGS Secure PR66

Coins from the Union of South Africa, Dominion under Great Britain, feature the British monarchy on the obverse. Highly collectible, these coins were made from 1923 to 1960. Reverse designs vary and are quite beautiful. The silver 5 Shillings is when the first appearance of the springbok on the reverse was minted, familiar to many because it appears on the popular modern day Krugerrand.


1948 South African 5 Shillings PCGS PL67

1961 saw the beginning of the South African modern coinage. The coins, based on the Rand monetary system where a rand equals 100 cents, feature a wide array of obverse and reverse designs. South Africans have a love of wildlife so many of the designs show animals on the reverse. The sparrow, eagle, blue crane, wildebeest, and of course, the springbok are depicted on the


1977 South African Krugerrand PCGS MS67
standard coinage. The silver Rand in all denominations have numbers of interesting commemorative issues. The gold bullion Krugerrand first made its appearance in 1967 and, while seeing dips in popularity due to politics, still remains one of the most popular of all bullion issues worldwide. The coin takes its name from Paul Kruger whose image was originally engraved on coins from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek.


1994 South African Rand Inauguration PCGS PR65DC

Some of South Africa's most interesting and beautiful designs have appeared in the 21st century in the silver and gold bullion Natura series. Here you'll find the rhinoceros, the jackal, and the leopard just to name a few.


1994 South African 1 Ounce Natura Lion PCGS Secure PR68DC

Set building of South African coins offers the collector diversity in design, metal content, and history. Sets in the PCGS Set RegistrySM can be found here.

BJ Searls is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a Master’s in Business Administration. She has been involved in numismatics since 1973 and has worked for Collectors Universe since 1997. BJ is the Set Registry and Special Projects Director for PCGS, PSA and PSA/DNA. Email: [email protected].
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