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The South African Krugerrand: A Brief History

The South African Krugerrand was first minted in 1967, and just like its country of origin, it caused a stir around the globe for many years.

The Krugerrand was a unique specimen at the time, given that it could convert into any currency and was brought into being to give the South African mint a much-needed boost.

By the late ‘70s and early 1980s, the Krugerrand made up 90% of the international coin market (many nations had disowned the coin due to the connection with apartheid in South Africa, which makes this percentage all the more remarkable).


In the 1960s, South African gold mines produced 70% of the gold distributed around the world.

At this time the global gold standard was winding down and purchasing gold bars and ingots for private ownership was considered a criminal offence. So, the South African government, seeking an opportunity to make the most of a new marketplace and make gold ownership legal, created the gold bullion Krugerrand coin and sold each one at 5% over the spot price.

The idea behind the coin was to create something that would appeal to collectors and investors.

The first batch issued in 1967, was the first modern coin to consist of over one troy ounce of 22-karat gold. This puts the Krugerrand at a gold purity level of 91.67% (the same as the American Eagle, which came years later). The remaining 8.13% is made up of copper, which gives the coin its natural orangey glow.

The copper also has the added advantage of making the coin hardier and more resistant to scratches, an important feature given that it was also the first legal tender bullion coin; designed for home use and international sales.


The name “Krugerrand” combines the unit of currency of South Africa, the Rand, with the last name of Paul Kruger, an important political and military personality in the former South African Republic; his face appears on one side of the coin.

On the reverse side is a springbok – a mid-sized antelope which is native to some regions of Africa. It is to South Africa, what the Eagle or Bison is to the United States or the Lion is to the UK.


At the time of writing, over 50 million ounces of Krugerrand coins have been sold globally – by far the most of any other bullion coin in regards to volume. An immense achievement, and one that is even more impressive considering the coin celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year.

In the early years of the coin's existence, it's popularity outstripped its uncertain origins and other nations began to see the benefit of producing a Krugerrand equivalent.

Canada stepped into the market in 1979 with their now world-famous Gold Maple Leaf coin. Entering the market when they did put the Canadian mint in an incredible position since Krugerrands were illegal in North America.

The Gold Panda of China came next in 1982 and remains one of the top choices for investors and collectors to this day.

The United States presented their collection of American Gold Eagles in 1986. The makeup of the gold eagles contains the same gold percentage as the Krugerrand and also includes copper, but this is more diluted with silver. 

Finally, the British Gold Britannia coins were unveiled in 1987, and rank as some of the most popular coins in the world.

All of these examples and any since are based wholly or partly on the Krugerrand model.

Why Are Krugerrand Coins Still So Popular?

Legal Tender Value: As we’ve mentioned, the first Krugerrand was minted, which means they are legal tender. But they don’t have monetary face value. Which means their value is directly tied to the market value of gold. So technically you’re within your rights to exchange a Krugerrand for the equivalent cash value of 1oz of gold.

More Gold: Since the Krugerrand consists of over 90% gold is contains more gold than most other alternatives. The copper content, orange sheen and durability appeals to collectors and investors as any mark or blemish could severely diminish coin value.

History Driving Demand: The reputation of the Krugerrand is perhaps its most important asset. It is still the most extensively collected and traded bullion coin on the planet. Which means when you buy Krugerrands, you can be confident that there will be a good deal of interest when it comes time to sell. This combined with the aesthetic appeal, history and design makes it difficult to find a better coin investment.


The Rand Refinery, the makers and distributors of the Krugerrand, don't sell directly to the public. Instead, they rely on independent, reputable dealers like us here at Sharps Pixley.

We stock ½ ounce and ¼ ounce, along with 1 ounce mixed years Krugerrand coins, which means that whatever your budget you can invest in or collect a piece of world history. You can view our collection here.

At Sharps Pixley, we are passionate about ensuring that all our customers are fully up-to-speed before deciding on their investments. So, if you'd like to learn more drop us a line on 020 7871 0532, or why not pop into our London, St. James’s Street Showroom to speak to us in person?


05 Jul 2018 | Categories: Gold, Coins