Gold coins serve sometimes serve as a country’s shining brand to the rest of the world. They symbolise the nation’s pride, heroes, and triumphs, and each goes by a different name; England has the Britannia, America has the Eagle, and for South Africa, it’s the Krugerrand.
First minted in 1967, the Krugerrand enjoyed one of the most erratic life cycles a single currency can undergo in the last decades of the 20th century. Forty thousand Krugerrands were minted annually for its first two years.
In 1970, South Africa produced five times that number, minting more than 211,000 gold coins. The bullion became the number one choice for investors looking into the gold market so quickly, so much that in 1974 alone, the country minted one million coins.
South Africa broke this record a mere four years later when the country minted six million Krugerrands in 1978. Observers estimated that by the time the Krugerrand reached the all-time high, 22 million coins had been exported to the USA alone. The Krugerrand was so dominant, it accounted for 90% of the world’s gold coin market in 1980.
The resounding success of the Krugerrand inspired other countries to produce their own bullions. The selection includes the Chinese Golden Panda, the Australian Nugget, and the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf.
But, the success of the Krugerrand trade did not last, as international sanctions were placed on the country in the wake of apartheid. From historic six figure production numbers, the country produced just over 23,000 coins in 1998. As new bullions flooded the market in its absence, the Krugerrand would not rise to the heights it once enjoyed.
The Krugerrand is a compound of the word ‘Kruger’ and ‘Rand’. Kruger is the last name of Paul Kruger; the fifth President of the South African Republic, the coin bears the profile of his image on its face. Rand is the name of the currency of South Africa.
The reverse of the Krugerrand bears the image of the springbok antelope, an animal endemic to Africa’s southwest region, and one of South Africa’s national symbols. Today, the Krugerrand is still the most actively traded gold bullion coin in the market.