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The South African Mint
Headquartered in Centurion in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, the South African Mint Company (SA Mint) produces South Africa’s circulation coins, supplies coin blanks to other nations, and mints commemorative coins. The SA Mint produces coins on behalf of and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank.
The Mint also markets itself as a one-stop shop for other mints and central banks, offering coin design, master and production dies, and the minting of coins and coin blanks. More than 120 years old, the Mint considers its coins more than mere currency; it views them as historical and cultural microcosms.
Creating Timeless Value and Preserving Heritage
Each year, the Mint sends thousands of its coins to other countries through collectors who prize the work of the Mint’s master craftsmen. In this way, its coins serve as global ambassadors of South Africa and its rich heritage. The pride of the Mint in its coins is evident in its mission statement: “We create timeless value and preserve heritage through master-crafted coins.”
The work of its highly trained craftsmen is what sets the South African Mint apart from its peers internationally. The SA Mint develops its employees to ensure that they attain peak levels of mastery, staying true to its history of excellence. Enhancing the age-old craft of minting with modern advancements, the Mint maintains sophisticated, computer-integrated facilities equipped with some of the highest-tech machinery in the industry. As a result, the Mint has cemented its reputation as one of the preferred producers of coins and coin blanks in the world.
History of the South African Mint
The impetus for the SA Mint was the discovery of gold in 1886 in the Gauteng region, which convinced the then-president, Paul Kruger, that the ZAR should have its own coins. The Mint opened in 1892; its first coins were designed by Otto Schultz and struck at the Berlin Imperial Mint. When British troops occupied Pretoria in 1900, the mint closed. During this time, an improvised mint was established in an abandoned goldmine using a makeshift fly press and soft, hand-cut dies. The “veldponde,” or “field pound,” coins that it produced remain treasured pieces of South African history today.
Following the Anglo Boer War, British money became legal tender in the Orange Free State and Transvaal. Likewise, British currency became the accepted South African currency when the Union of South Africa was created in 1910. In the banking and mining industries, however, many felt that South Africa should have its own mint and refinery to avoid having to send its gold abroad then import it as coinage.
Almost a decade later, the Pretoria Mint Act of 1919 established a branch of the Royal Mint in Pretoria. Prince Arthur of Connaught struck the Royal Mint Pretoria’s first gold pound in October 1923. In 1941, the South African government assumed control of the mint. In 1961, it debuted a decimal coinage system.
During the 1980s, to deregulate the activities of the State, the government privatized the SA Mint, naming the South African Reserve Bank as its holding company. The Mint officially became a subsidiary of the Reserve in September 1988, changing its name to the South African Mint Company (Pty) Ltd. The Mint decided to relocate soon thereafter, as its modest facility at the time could not satisfy the growing demand for coinage. The new Mint, located at Gateway, Centurion, opened in October 1992.
South African Mint Products and Services
The numismatic division of the SA Mint mints premium proof quality coins of mostly gold and silver just for collectors. This includes the famous Krugerrand gold bullion coin, first minted in 1967. For a time, the Krugerrand was the only gold bullion coin available on the global market. With its circulation coins, the Mint produces metal alloys such as bronze, copper, and nickel electroplated items. The Mint also manufactures coins made of stainless steel and several copper-based alloy compositions of aluminum, copper, tin, nickel, and zinc.
In the world of bullion and precious metals, the mint’s most popular product is the 1 oz South African Gold Krugerrand coin. The Krugerrand Gold Coin is made from 22k gold (91.67%) and is found most commonly in the one troy ounce size. These coins feature, on their obverse, an image of Paul Kruger, the South African Republic’s first president. Surrounding the president are the words “SUID AFRIKA” and “SOUTH AFRICA.”
On the coin’s reverse is a Springbok, a native species of Antelope. The year is inscribed to the left and right of the animal with the weight and metal type located underneath which reads: “FYNGOUD 1 OZ FINE GOLD.” It is worth noting that unlike most all gold bullion coins, the Krugerrand has no legal tender value assigned to it. The coin is, instead, worth its weight in gold.
The Mint’s services extend far beyond the manufacture of circulation and commemorative coins; it also has an expansive international services division. The SA Mint produces coins and coin blanks for the global export market, with its coins used as currency in several countries in Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America. When the Mint sells coin blanks to other countries, the recipient country performs the final minting itself.
The SA Mint takes several precautions in its ongoing effort to combat counterfeiting. With some coins, such as the Five Rand (R5), the Mint has redesigned the series with enhanced security features. The redesigned R5, for example, was South Africa’s first bi-metal coin, with a silver border and a bronze center. Additionally, the new coin is heavier and thicker than the previous edition.
On top of the security measures built into its coins, the South African Mint includes an individually numbered Certificate of Authenticity with each special edition coin and coin set that it issues. The certificate contains the coin’s year, specifications, description, and the limited edition. Redesigned each year to prevent duplication, the certificate also bears the signature of the Mint’s managing director. Lastly, on each certificate, the Mint prints its logo in transparent ink visible only under UV light.
Reputation, Pricing, and Availability
The reasons that investors and collectors clamor for the products of the SA Mint are many. For one, the coins are minted under incredibly strict conditions that stress craftsmanship and quality control. Commemorative coins are especially prized because the Mint produces them in limited quantities. However, the quality and scarcity of the coins are only part of their value; their worth also stems largely from their aesthetic commemoration of momentous historical and cultural matters.
The extent of availability of SA Mint coins depends largely on the type of coin. Similarly, the price of the coins will depend on the type of metal, rarity, and condition. To the South African Mint, coins are so much more than currency or collector’s items; they are vehicles that tell the stories of a nation’s heritage. Browse Silver.com’s selection of SA Mint coins today to add one or more of these beautiful, precious pieces to your collection.