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Mint dates: 1967-present
The first national bullion coin in the world, the South African Krugerrand was devised to demonstrate the quality of that country’s gold. First issued in 1967, the Krugerrand is named after Paul Kruger, the 5th president of South Africa and war hero of the Second Boer War, and the rand, the official South African currency unit. In 1975, the coin became famous among Americans who were excited to once again take possession of gold as a personal asset. The Krugerrand was such a wild success due to the gold bull run that other countries followed suit, issuing their own bullion coins. Canada (Gold Maple Leaf), Australia, China, the United States (American Gold Eagle) and Great Britain all issued their first bullion coins in the late 1970s through the 1980s.
Though it inspired other countries’ bullion coins, the Krugerrand stands alone in one important regard: Although it was meant primarily as an investment vehicle, it was also issued as legal tender for use in South Africa. This accounts for the coin’s large amount of copper, which helps to ensure that the surface is tough enough to withstand scratches and dents as it circulates. This makes for a time-defying look, with a sheen like the light of a sunrise.
The obverse of the coin depicts a portrait of Paul Kruger, designed by artist Otto Schulz. Four-term President Kruger is a national treasure, lovingly known as Uncle Paul. On the reverse of the coin is a springbok, a gazelle often used as a symbol of South Africa. Designed by Coert Steynberg, the springbok originally appeared on the 5 shilling coin. The animal gallops lightly on the open savanna, deft in footing, and proud in its stance.
The Krugerrand, as the pace setter for bullion coins, was often imitated by the pressing of rounds. These appear to be coins, but as they are not issued by the Mint of South Africa, they hold no real value and are considered counterfeit. Typically, the springbok is misdrawn and important information is missing from the obverse side. These rounds became common during the height of the embargo against South Africa for its practice of apartheid. During that time, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf surged in popularity and value, while Krugerrands became an illegal import in many countries.
Since September 1980, the Krugerrand has been made available in three additional sizes containing 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce and 1/10 ounce of gold.