Saturday, June 21, 2008
South African Krugerands
The South Afrikan Krugerand coin is one of the most popular gold collector's coins in the world. The original Krugerrands contain exactly one ounce (33.93 grams) of pure gold, plus a small amount of copper (2.826 grams) to create a stronger, more durable gold coin. Krugerrand therefore have a total weight of 1.0909 troy ounces (33.93 grams). Some new collectors worry that they are receiving less gold when buying a coin of less than 100% purity, but in truth 1 ounce Krugerrands contain exactly the same amount of gold as a 100% gold coin like the Canadian Maple Leaf. The weight of the additional metals is not counted in the gold's weight. The South Afrikan Krugerand coin was the first gold coin to contain exactly one ounce of pure gold. Previous gold coins such as gold sovereigns contained amounts of gold meant to correspond with the coin's face value as currency.
The Krugerrand is named after Paul Kruger, the Boer resistance leader fifth president of the South African Republic. Kruger's face is printed on one side of the coin, while a depiction of the springbok antelope is printed on the reverse. Both Kruger and the springbok antelope have become widely recognized symbols of South Africa.
Krugerands were first minted starting in 1967 to market South African gold abroad. The coin has legal tender status in South Africa, with it's value corresponding to the current gold market values of 1 troy oz. It was never intended to be used as a regular daily medium of exchange, but rather was made legal tender in order to be considered collectable. At the time, it was illegal for Americans to own gold bullion, but it was legal to own foreign coins. The Krugerrand made use of that loophole and became widely owned in the United States. In later years however, importing the Krugerrand into the United States and many other countries was banned to protest the Apartheid government. During the time of those bannings, other nations began minting their own gold coins with legal tender status to fill the gap.
In 1980 the Krugerand was released in different weights, specifically 1/10 oz. Krugerrands, 1/2 oz. Krugerrands, and 1/4 oz. Krugerrand gold coin. Also, in the early 1980s, silver Krugerands were minted, but their source remains a mystery as they were minted privately. There is no reference to South Africa anywhere on the coins, perhaps to bypass the Apartheid bannings. The name "Krugerrand" is printed on the coins, but the name Krugerrand is a trademark and was used without permission. There is no indication on the coins of who they were minted or issued by.
Despite the presence of Canadian Maple Leaf gold coins, Australian Kangaroo gold coins, and US American Eagle gold coins on the market, the South African Krugerand still maintains some prestige as the original legal tender coin whose value is based on its gold content. It is also popular for it's different appearance, having a slightly orange, penny-like copper tone that makes it stand out from other more lightly colored gold coins (either made with silver alloys, or of 100% pure gold). They are a fine addition to any collection, and a sound investment for any investor.