The South African Gold Krugerrand Coin was first released by the South African Mint in 1967 with the intention of promoting South African gold to international markets and making private ownership of gold a possibility for individuals. As legal tender gold bullion, the Krugerrand was minted to be more wear-resistant than 24 karat gold coins. The Krugerrand is 22 karats, or 91.67%, gold. The additional 8.33% alloy is copper. At the time of the Krugerrand’s mintage, the United States did not permit the private ownership of gold bullion to its citizens, however ownership of foreign coins was permitted, making the Krugerrand accessible in the U.S. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, numerous Western countries banned the import of Krugerrands as part of enforced economic sanctions against South Africa due to apartheid. These economic sanctions ended in the West in 1994 with the abandonment of apartheid by South Africa. Despite obstacles, the Krugerrand experienced widespread success, cornering 90% of the gold coin market worldwide in 1980. The Krugerrand’s success inspired the minting of legal tender gold bullion by other countries, including Canada’s Gold Maple Leaf in 1979 and the United States’ Gold Eagle in 1986.
The coin’s name is the result of joining the surname of the South African Republic’s first Boer president, Paul Kruger, recognized worldwide for his opposition to the British during the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902, and the unit of currency in South Africa, the rand. Interestingly, the Krugerrand, which enjoys legal tender status, was never assigned a rand value, but was designed to derive its value exclusively from the value of gold at any given time. The obverse of the coin, designed by Otto Schultz, depicts a profile of President Paul Kruger with the words, “South Africa” in Afrikaans and English to the right and left of him, respectively.
The coin’s reverse, designed by South African sculptor Coert Steynberg, portrays a pronking springbok antelope. The springbok is one of South Africa’s national symbols. This image has also been used on the South African 5 schilling piece and 50 cent crown. The word, “Krugerrand” is labeled across the top of the coin, with the date of mintage divided on the left and right of the antelope.