July 16, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.