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South Africa’s Special Commemorative and Rare Coins

South Africa’s Special Commemorative and Rare Coins

Some South African coins have more intricate and specialised designs than their official look, especially when released to celebrate a significant person, place, or event.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) then releases commemorative ZAR coins, which are usually 50 cents, 1 Rand, 2 Rands, and 5 Rands.

For collectors, the value of each coin mostly depends on the rarity, material, and quality.

Which R5 coins are valuable?

All R5 coins, whether regular or commemorative, retain the same face value, which is 5 Rand. The South African Mint produces these coins for everyday transactions.

However, coin collectors appraise each‌ coin differently, primarily based on their significance and rarity, as some special-edition commemorative coins are produced in smaller numbers.

As of 2022, the most valuable commemorative R5 coins are Mandela’s 90th Birthday (2009), the Presidential Inauguration (1994), and the Mandela “Smiley” (2000).

Below is the list of special-edition R5 coins over the years, and their current value in the collectors’ market:

Commemorative coinYearMarket’s Value(2022)Material
Presidential Inauguration1994Listed for as much as R30,000Nickel-plated copper
Mandela “Smiley”2000Listed for as much as R49,500Nickel-plated copper
Mandela’s 90th Birthday2009Listed for as much as R150,000 Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
South African Reserve Bank’s 90th Anniversary2011Listed for as much as R1,995Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
20 Years of Democracy2014Listed for as much as R4,500Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
200th Anniversary of Griqua Coinage2015Listed for as much as R1,250Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
100 Years of Oliver Tambo2017Listed for as much as R500Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
Mandela Centenary2018Listed for as much as R1,700Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
25th Anniversary of Democracy2019Listed for as much as R50Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel
South African Reserve Bank’s 100th Anniversary2021Listed for as much as R 50Bi-metallic:  brass/copper-nickel

Special-edition R5 coins: Mandela Collection

Of all the special-edition R5 coins that the SA Mint issues, the ones that have the most market value are the ones from the Mandela collection.

1. Mandela’s 90th Birthday (2009)

The South African Mint produced around 22.1 million of Mandela’s 90th Birthday version of the R5 coin in 2009. As of 2022, the coin has the highest market value among the commemorative R5 coins, with some listed for as much as R150,000.

2. Mandela “Smiley” (2000)

The Mandela “Smiley” edition of the R5 coin released in 2000 is one of the most popular collectable R5 coins. These were launched to honour the end of Nelson Mandela’s presidency.

An estimated 6.2 million of these were minted and currently, there are copies listed in the market for as much as R49,500.

3. Presidential Inauguration (1994)

The Presidential Inauguration comes in third in the collection, with pieces listed for as much as R30,000. In 1994, 10.1 million pieces were released by the South African Mint.

4. Mandela Centenary (2018)

The Mandela Centenary (2018) R5 commemorative coin has the least market value among the Mandela collection in 2022. The highest listing for one of its pieces is priced at R1,700.

These were issued as part of the 2018 Celebrating South Africa coin series, marking a hundred years since the birth of Mandela.

Other Valuable ZAR Coins

Aside from the popular Big 5: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo, South Africa also has “The Big 5” ZARs, which are some of the rarest coins in the country.

1. Single 9 Pond (1898)

Single 9 Pond (1898)

The rarest and most expensive coin in South Africa is the 1898 Single 9 Pond. There is just one of these coins in existence, and it is currently worth R 15 million. 

Because it was produced in 1898 during the Anglo-Boer War and the quest for national legitimacy, The 1898 Single 9 Pond has a complicated history. 

At the time, the nation had trouble finding dies for domestic currency and was forced to work with a German die manufacturer. The only character on the first coin produced in South Africa was nine. 

The “9” prominently protruded into the lower portion of President Kruger’s bust due to the inadequately sized writing area. The president’s image was thought to be overly compromised by this.

2. The Pond, Fine Beard (1874) 

Following former president Kruger’s determination to create a currency for his people, the coins arrived. 

These priceless coins were brought home by Kruger sending a portrait of himself, his coat of arms, and gold to London. The Pilgrim’s Rest gold was sufficient to finish the task.

695 Fine Beard Burgers Pond coins were included in the initial shipment of these coins. These are considered the first true South African coin.

Over time, the value of these coins has risen. For instance, in 2014, a US-based auction market paid $94,000 for an NGC MS65 certified coin. Depending on quality, recent prices range from R300,000 to R700,000.

3. The Pond, Coarse Beard (1874)

The Pond, Coarse Beard (1874)

This particular Burgers Ponds coin is from the second batch, as after 695 coins were produced in the first batch, the dies broke. As a result, these coins eventually developed thick beards, with the number 8 making a double-struck impression.

Only 142 pieces were produced when the minting process was stopped by a negative response from the public. One of the first to voice opposition to these coarse coins was the people’s council. 

These coins are still in competition because there aren’t many of them. Currently, the Burgers Pond Coarse Beard is worth at least R 1 million.

4. The Sammy Marks Tickey (1898)

Sammy Marks Tickey is one of South Africa’s most expensive coins. These are still extremely valuable despite never having been used as a legal tender, as these coins served as keepsakes of Kruger’s presidency. 

Sammy Marks, a businessman in the mining industry, was honoured by the commander-in-chief for the excellent services he provided to the state by way of these coins.

High-profile officials, including family members, friends, members of the people’s council, and the president, received magnate, one of the 215 pieces made possible by the mining. 

The Sammy Marks Tickey coins have appreciated to a value of almost R 750,000 due to their rarity and historical significance.

5. The Double 9 Overstamp (1899)

The single-nine branded coin was changed when stakeholders came to an agreement. The 1899 Kruger Double Nine Pounds were produced using roughly 137,000 one-pound coins.

Only 133 of the total coins made had the 99-numeral stamp, giving them the nickname “Double 99 Ponds.” These 130 coins are rare, which has caused their price to exceed R1.5 million.

6. The Veldpond (1902)

In a desperate effort to aid Boers in their trade activities, roughly 986 pieces were released. Around the period of the VeldPonds, trade with African tribes was all but impossible due to a protracted war. 

The coin arrived to support their trade and combat the British, who were on the verge of destroying them. An alternative name for the VeldPond is Pilgrim’s Rest. 

Considering that each of these precious metals is hand-pressed, they are all unique. Depending on the quality and condition of each piece, VeldPonds can cost anywhere from R350,000 and R500,000.

The SARB purchases gold coins

Aside from the Top 6 rare coins, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) purchases coins for their gold content at the prevailing gold price. Take note, though, that the SARB only buys coins that are legal tender, including the following:


Krugerrands, a legendary currency in the coin industry, was created when the idea of a legal tender gold coin tied to the daily gold price was established in South Africa. It was initially struck on July 3, 1967, with the intention of promoting South African gold.

The springbok, South Africa’s national animal, is depicted on the reverse, which was initially conceived and etched by the renowned sculptor Coert Steynberg.

The 1 oz gold Krugerrand, the family’s flagship product, has been a staple of the Krugerrand line for more over 50 years because to its traditional size.

Paul Kruger, the president of South Africa at the time the first Krugerrand was initially introduced, is depicted in a bust on the coin’s obverse. 

The term “Krugerrand” is above the springbok and the word “gold content” is below it on the reverse of the coin, which also shows the year the piece was produced.

Each coin in the Krugerrand series is bought by the SARB. (Sizes include 2 oz, 1 oz, 12 oz, 14 oz, and 1/10 oz.)

Natura series coins

The South African Mint originally issued the Natura series in 1994, the nation of South Africa’s first fine gold series. Each issue has a South African animal, and the patterns are based on the local nature.

A typical obverse design for a gold coin from the Natura series includes an animal, the year of mintage, and the word “SOUTH AFRICA.” 

Every year, the reverse design is unique and occasionally shows the weight and purity. The word “NATURA” is engraved on the piece.

The “Big 5” collection features the most famous animals in South Africa: the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo.

 The “Monarchs of Africa Series” depicts the kudu, sable and oryx.

The “Wildcats of Africa – The Last Waltz” features the cheetah and the lion.

A second version of the Wildcats of Africa collection was released featuring the desert lynx.

The South African Mint also launched “The Giants of Africa” series, which depicted the hippo, giraffe, eland and the elephant, and the “Safari through Africa” edition, which portrayed the white rhino and the black rhino.

Their latest collection transitioned focus from animals to palaeontology. This is to celebrate South Africa’s role and significance in this field of study.

The first collection released in this theme is the “Rise of the Dinosaurs – Archosauria”, followed by the “Cradle of Humankind – Hominids”, which tells the story of the origin of humans.

Protea series coins 

The South African Mint occasionally introduces unique items, usually to mark an important occasion or achievement. In 1986, protea coins were first made available.

The South African national flower, the king protea, is depicted on the coin’s reverse. Each reverse features a distinctive, eye-catching design based on the year’s theme.

In 2010, the Nadine Gordimer coin was released. This is to honour Gordimer, a South African writer, political activist and Nobel laureate.

The ‘Life of a Legend – Nelson Mandela’ Protea series was released in 2013.

And in 2019, as South Africa celebrates its 25th year of democracy, the Life of a Legend: Nelson Mandela, Legacy was released.

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