No gold bullion coin in the world has a richer history than the South African Gold Krugerrand. While gold investment-grade coins are now, seemingly, a dime-a-dozen for buyers, there was a time when the Gold Krugerrand was the only choice when buying gold coins for private investment. Learn all about the rich history of the South African Gold Krugerrand with JM Bullion.
The South African Gold Krugerrand coin has a complex history. The coins debuted in 1967 as a means for the South African government to promote the vast gold, precious metal, and gem reserves of the nation. The Gold Krugerrand instantly became the first modern gold bullion coin available for private investment. The coins debuted as a 1 Troy oz specimen with 22-karat gold content.
Although the Gold Krugerrand proved immensely popular right out of the gate, its availability would suffer in the 1970s as a result of Western economic sanctions. At this point in its history, South African was ruled by a minority white government and the system of apartheid in place in the country kept the native black population from gaining control of lands, moving up in society, and adequately representing itself in government.
As a result of this system, and in an effort to break South Africa’s apartheid system through economic measures, Western governments adopted a stiff boycott on South African goods. Though the South African Gold Krugerrand would continue to find its way out of South Africa and into the hands of North American and European buyers, the larger impact was the introduction of other gold coins which Westerners could more easily purchase. From 1967 to 1979, the Gold Krugerrand was the only option. Between 1979 and 1989 though, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, Chinese Gold Panda, American Gold Eagle, British Gold Britannia, and Austrian Gold Philharmonic coins all came to market as other options for gold buyers.
The South African Gold Krugerrand coin has long used the same design elements on both its obverse and reverse faces. The only change that has come in over five decades of production is a modernization of the images used on either side. To this day, the South African Gold Krugerrand features these designs:
There is one important design element of note that separates bullion Gold Krugerrands from any proof offerings of the South African coin. Both sides of the coins have serrations around the very edge of the design field. Were you to count these serrations, you’d find a total of 160 serrations on the gold bullion coin compared to 220 serrations on the proof coins.
When originally released in 1967, the South African Gold Krugerrand had limited mintages each year. From 1967 to 1969, the annual cap was set at 40,000 coins. In 1970, rising demand for and popularity of the Gold Krugerrand helped push mintage higher. The 1970 issue saw 200,000 coins released, rising to 6 million coins for the 1978 issue. Production in the years post-apartheid has been much lower than the highs of the 1970s. In 1998, for example, just 23,277 coins were struck.
The South African Gold Krugerrand may have debuted as a 1 Troy oz coin, but it did not remain as a singular option for long. In 1980, the Gold Krugerrand was so popular that it accounted for 90% of the global gold coin market. In response to its popularity, the South African Mint expanded the collection to feature three fractional-weight coins: 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz. To this day, all four versions remain in production with 22-karat (91.67%) gold content.
You’ll also find limited-issue proof Gold Krugerrands struck by the South African Mint. As mentioned earlier, the major design difference between the two comes in the form of the number of serrations noticeable on the coin’s obverse and reverse sides.
The coins are a product of the South African Mint, which is a privately owned mint in South Africa that works with the South African Reserve Bank to produce both the circulation coins in the South African rand currency and the South African Gold Krugerrand. The South African Mint is located in Centurion, Gauteng province near the city of Pretoria. It was founded in 1890 as the first national mint of South African, became a branch of the Royal Mint of England in 1923, and reverted back to independent mint status in 1941. It works in concert with the Rand Refinery to produce Gold Krugerrands. The Rand Refinery is the largest single-site precious metals refining and smelting complex in the world. It was established in 1920 to refine South African gold and owns the trademark on the word “Krugerrand.”
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to JM Bullion if you have questions about buying gold in the South African Krugerrand collection. You can call us at 800-276-6508, chat with us live online, or simply send us an email.