Gold coins have been used as common currency in human civilization for many centuries. However, as a private ownership and investment tool, the South African Krugerrand was the first gold bullion coin introduced to the world to serve this purpose. At one point in time, the Gold Krugerrand was the single most popular bullion coin in the world, accounting for nearly 90% of the gold coin market on Earth.
Today it is not as popular as it once was, but still attracts investors year after year. The coins are still being minted today, but the most commonly traded releases are those from past years. When you are buying South African Gold Krugerrands online, you’ll have the option of either buying new coins or “varied year” coins. The latter are available for a very small premium above the gold spot price, attracting cost-conscious investors. Read on to learn more about this popular world gold coin, its history and pricing information.
History of the Gold Krugerrand Coin
The South African Gold Krugerrand was first minted in 1967 by the South African Mint. The decision was made in an effort to market South Africa’s extensive supply of gold to global markets and encourage private investment through gold bullion. Referred to simply as the “Krugerrand,” the coin got its name through the combination of Kruger and rand.
Paul Kruger, who is depicted on the coin’s obverse side, was the 5th President of the South African Republic (1883-1900). He remains among the most popular public figures of the nation of South Africa to this day. The rand, who’s image is featured on the reverse of the coin, is the official unit of currency in South Africa.
Krugerrand Face Value & Purity
Although the Krugerrand is a bullion product, it also bears the status of legal tender in South Africa. As a result, it has been minted with a durable copper-gold blend over the years. All Krugerrands are minted with 91.67% pure gold and 8.33% copper. From its introduction in 1967 through September 1980, Krugerrands were only minted in a 1 ounce weight.
Prior to 1979, the Krugerrand was the primary gold bullion coin in the world. Its existence, and popularity with investors, drove other gold-producing countries to come up with designs for their own gold bullion coins. Among the popular coins that arose because of the popularity of the Krugerrand are (in chronological order, oldest to newest original mint) the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, Chinese Gold Panda, and the American Gold Eagle.
Gold Krugerrand Coin Specifications
Starting in 1980 and continuing through to today, Krugerrands are minted in 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz weights. The exact size of a specific coin directly correlate with their weight. The diameters and specifications of the coins in production since that year have remained consistent and are as follows:
- 1 ounce: 32.77 mm diameter, 2.84 mm thickness
- 1/2 ounce: 27.07 mm diameter, 2.215 mm thickness
- 1/4 ounce: 22.06 mm diameter, 1.888 mm thickness
- 1/10 ounce: 16.55 mm diameter, 1.35 mm thickness
Krugerrand Mintage Numbers
Production levels of the Krugerrand have varied during its 50-year history. When the coin was first minted, the South African Mint capped production at 40,000 coins annually between 1967 and 1969. As the popularity of the coin grew during the 1970s, so too did its production levels. In 1970, production jumped dramatically to 211,018 coins. By 1974, the South African Mint was producing more than one million coins annually. The peak of production came in 1978 when six million Krugerrands were minted.
However, economic sanctions placed on South Africa in response to its apartheid system damaged the production of the Krugerrand. Many Western nations used sanctions to prevent the importation of Krugerrands to punish the government for its stance on its apartheid system. After the country abandoned its apartheid system in 1994, Krugerrand production took a dive to 23,277 coins. However, with precious metal prices on the rise (and sanctions gone), production levels have been on the rise again in the 21st century.
South African Gold Krugerrand Design
One of the unique facets of the South African Krugerrand is its unchanged design over the course of 50 years of minting. The obverse side of the coin has, since its first production in 1967, featured the image of Paul Kruger. Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger served as the 5th President of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900, and was the face of the Boer resistance in South Africa that fought against the British Empire during the Second Boer War. On the reverse side of the coin, a springbok antelope has been the primary image since 1967.
With that said, the current images of Kruger and the springbok antelope represent artistic works from Otto Schultz and Coert Steynberg, respectively. Schultz developed the left-profile image of Kruger featured on the obverse side. On this side, the coin has engravings of South Africa in both English and Afrikaans (Suid Afrika). On the reverse side, Steynberg’s springbok antelope is seen running through a field. Below the image is the engraving of the weight, metal content, and purity. The year of minting is engraved on either side of the antelope and the name of the coin (Krugerrand) is engraved above the image.
Buying Gold Krugerrands Online
The value of any given South African Gold Krugerrand Coin is dependent upon a few factors. The price of gold on the precious metals market and the gold content of any individual Krugerrand helps determine the price investors will pay when looking to purchase this iconic coin. However, the ebb and flow of production levels can impact the price investors will see as well.
The global sanctions placed on the Krugerrand between 1979 and 1994 would logically suggest that those coins have higher value, however mintage did not slow significantly during this period. This means that those coins are relatively easy to find because production levels were, for many of those years, in excess of one million coins annually. It also has not seen as high of a demand as other popular coins like the American Gold Eagle or Canadian Gold Maple Leaf.
Original Krugerrands, produced between 1967 and 1969, are among the rarest of these South African coins. One important note that investors should keep in mind: there are imitation rounds that can confuse some individual. Private mints in South Africa have attempted to mint gold rounds that duplicate the Krugerrand. Many of these rounds have the same images of Paul Kruger and the antelope, but inscriptions are altered slightly. While Krugerrand coins are legal tender and produced by the South African Mint, backed by the government of South Africa, the rounds are not legal tender and worth less as an investment tool.
Where to Buy Gold Krugerrands Online
Purchasing South African Gold Krugerrands online is the best way to ensure that your investment is secure and reliable. Online precious metal dealers like Provident Metals, APMEX, Golden Eagle Coins, JM Bullion, BGASC and SD Bullion offer Krugerrands for sale, with secure shipping, certification and grading of the coin, as well as affordable pricing that is just above the market price of gold. Many online dealers today even include free shipping at certain pricing tiers, making them one of the cheapest places to buy gold coins online.