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What is a Krugerrand?

The Krugerrands are gold bullion coins minted by the Republic of South Africa. They were first released in 1967. The Krugerrand coin was the first international modern gold bullion coin.

They were produced to provide gold investors worldwide access to the gold bullion market to promote South African gold.

To benefit from the new market trend, the South African government created a modern bullion coin called Krugerrand.

The Rand Refinery, one of the largest integrated single-site precious metals refining and smelting complexes in the world, produces the coin blanks for the gold Krugerrands, and they are minted by both The Rand Refinery and The South African Mint Company.

The name of the Krugerrand coin is a mix of the words "Kruger" and "Rand." They refer to the name of Paul Krugger, the 15th president of South Africa and prominent figure in the Boer resistance (1899-1902) against the British domain, and the South African Rand, which has been the official South African currency since 1961.

Paul Kruger's Picture

In 1980, the fractional Krugerrands ½ oz, ¼ oz, and 1⁄10 oz were added to the series, making the coin more affordable and allowing more people to become gold owners.

Key Characteristics of a Krugerrand

Gold Krugerrand coins are not pure gold, but they're composed of an alloy of gold and copper. More specifically, 91.67% is gold, and 8.33% is copper. This measurement of alloy means that the coin is 22-karat gold. The coin is composed of 22 parts gold and two parts copper. However, it is important to note that the gold content amounts for a total of 1 Troy oz. So this coin is slightly heavier than the 24-karat gold coins available in the market, such as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf.

The addition of copper makes the coin more resistant and gives the piece a distinctive orange-like color, unlike other pure gold coins.

The minting process of the South African Krugerrand gold coin is extremely meticulous. While the production of the circulating coins from the African Mint is automated, the production of the Krugerrand is much slower because it requires a lot of human labor.

The result of so much work reveals itself in a complex and highly valued piece of bullion.

Design and Features of South African Krugerrands

The Obverse Side

Paul Kruger's Obverse

The obverse of the coin depicts an effigy of the former president Paul Kruger at the center designed in 1892 by Otto Schultz. Along with the bust are the inscriptions SUID AFRIKA and its English equivalent right after SOUTH AFRIKA, based on the designs of Otto Schultz.

Paul Kruger was president of the Transvaal, or South African Republic, from 1883 until 1900.

The Reverse Side

The reverse side of the coin features a pronking springbok, an antelope found in Africa. It is considered the country's national animal. It was designed by Coert Steynberg in 1947 and used in many different South African coins, including the 5 shillings and 50 cents crowns from 1947 to 1964, the gold ½ pound and the 1 pound coins from 1952 to1960, and the gold 1 Rand and 2 Rands issued from 1961 to 1983.

The South African national rugby team is also known as the Springboks.

The inscription KRUGERRAND is at the top, and FYNGOUND 1 OZ FINE GOLD is at the bottom.

The first thing that catches your eye will be the warm tone of the coin. The orange hue, due to its copper content, creates an alloy that has been used for hundreds of years. Its malleability and durability make it easy to mint and ensure time-resistant coins.

Proof Krugerrand Gold Coin

The proof version of the South African krugerrand bears the same design characteristics as its bullion counterpart; however, the proof version displays a mirror-like luster as a result of hand-polished and specially prepared blanks.

Gold Krugerrand Proof Coin

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The 50th Anniversary Krugerrands: In 2017, to mark the 50th year of the coin, the South African Mint launched for the first time a platinum version with .999 purity and a silver .999, as well as a premium uncirculated version in gold.

The commemorative issues received a '50' privy seal mark above the springbok on the reverse for the platinum and silver issues and for the gold ones on the right side of the springbok design. 

Gold Krugerrand

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Silver Krugerrand Coin

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Platinum Krugerrand Coin

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Due to the success of the Platinum and Silver Krugerrands in 2017, the South African Mint started producing these coins regularly every year. Despite the design continuing the same for both silver and platinum versions, they received a face value of, respectively, 1 and 10 Rands.

Specific measurements of the Gold Krugerrand coin

The 1 ounce in this coin represents the fine gold content. But thanks to the copper alloy, the actual weight of the coin as a whole is more than 31 grams but is around 33 grams.

Purity: .916 fine gold

Gross Weight= 33.930 grams

Gold Weight = 1.0000 troy ounces (31.103 grams)

Diameter = 32.77 mm (1.290 inches)

Thickness = 2.84 mm (0.112 inches).

Specific measurements of the Silver Krugerrand coin

Purity: .999 fine silver

Gross Weight = 31,103 grams

Silver Weight = 1.0000 troy ounces (31.103 grams)

Diameter = 38.7 mm ( 1.5236 inches)

Thickness = 2.84 mm (0.112 inches)

Specific measurements of the Platinum Krugerrand coin

Purity: .999 fine platinum

Gross Weight = 33.930 grams

Platinum Weight = 1.0000 troy ounces (31.107 grams)

Diameter = 32.69 ( 1.286 inches)

Thickness = 2.84 mm (0.112 inches)

Role of Krugerrands Gold Coins in the Gold Market

The South African gold krugerrand is one of today's most popular bullion coins. It is used as a form of portfolio diversification by private investors, as it provides the safety of a tangible asset. Since gold has always performed well in times of uncertainty, it is commonly chosen as a hedge against inflation.

Price fluctuations: The value of a bullion coin, in general, is derived from its precious metal content, in this case, how much gold content, the current gold spot price, and the premium.

The spot price of gold refers to an average value based on gold transactions occurring live during business days in derivatives and mercantile markets. Due to its precious metal content, Krugerrands tends to be relatively easy to liquidate.

Historical and Cultural Significance to the South African Republic

Paul Kruger’s Effigy

Paul Kruger was a prominent figure in South African History. He was a politician and president of the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR) and defended his country's interests during the Second Boer War in 1899.

Kruger was chosen to feature on the Krugerrand coins because he is a symbol of South African resistance against imperialism. 

Longest-Running Modern Gold Coin

The Krugerrand gold coin is the longest-running modern-day bullion coin available in the market.

Due to the high amount of gold mining activities in South Africa, the government aimed to make gold a popular and accessible form of private investment. According to the Royal Mint, the African gold mines were responsible for 70% of the gold distributed worldwide in the 60's

During the first decade of mintage, gold ownership became legal again in the United States after over 40 years of prohibition. With American investors eager to start investing in gold, it didn’t take long for the Gold Krugerrand to become a worldwide success.

Krugerrand International Embargo

During the apartheid regime, the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other countries issued economic sanctions against South Africa, making it illegal to import Krugerrand coins in the late 70’s and 80's.

These sanctions were removed in 1991 after the South African government put its apartheid policies to an end.

 South African Flag

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Nowadays, the krugerrand is still the most famous African coin, and even though it doesn't have a face value, it does have legal tender status in South Africa, according to the South African Reserve Bank Act 1989 (SARBA).

Comparison to Other Gold Bullion Coins

Contrary to other bullion coins, the Krugerrand has a composition that gives it an orange-like coloration, uncommon in other pieces.

Gold Coins like the American Gold Buffalo and foreign coins like the Canadian Maple Leaf, Australian Philharmonic, and Chinese Panda come in 24-karat gold. A 24-karat gold coin is the purest as its alloy contains no other metals. 24-karat coins may also be referred to as .999 fine.

So, as opposed to the 24k coins mentioned above, the Krugerrand is heavier due to the 1.0000 troy ounce of gold (31.10 grams) plus the 2.82 grams or .09090698 ounces of copper.

Another prominent 22-karat coin is the American Gold Eagle. However, the American coins do not display the same reddish hue as the South African ones because they also contain a small amount of silver in the alloy.

Final Thoughts

This article discussed the origin and characteristics of the South African Krugerrand coins, such as South Africa's national symbols and cultural and historical significance.

Many investors use gold coins as the krugerrands, as a form of safe investment, or to diversify an existing investment portfolio.

Many call gold a "safe haven" because gold tends to perform well in times of economic uncertainty, and as we can testify, gold prices are breaking records. That means, in the face of recent conflicts, more people are turning to hard assets, such as precious metal coins, as a way to protect their wealth.

FAQs

How much is a Krugerrand worth?

The price of a 1oz gold Krugerrand fluctuates around $2,110.24, and its silver counterpart version oscillates near $30,00 as of December of 2023. The value of the krugerrand relies on the value of its precious metal at the time of trading, as defined by the London Bullion Market Association, whether it is gold or silver.

Why were Krugerrands illegal?

In 1985, the Reagen administration banned the importation of Krugerrand gold coin from the United States because it was perceived as a symbol of apartheid. This situation only changed in 1991 when South Africa ended the apartheid.

Is it legal to own gold Krugerrands?

Yes, Krugerrand gold is legal to buy and sell. Even those that were produced during the international sanctions in the 80s that prohibited their importation, and in that way, made them an illegal import in many Western countries, are now allowed to be traded freely.

What is so special about Krugerrand?

The Krugerrand is the first gold coin in the world to be ounce-denominated and the first legal tender gold bullion coin to be used internationally.

How much is a Krugerrand worth to sell?

As of December 2023, the price of a 1oz gold Krugerrand fluctuates around $2,110.24. The price of a Krugerrand relies mainly on the price of the precious metal, in this case, the price of gold, plus the premium charged by the seller.

How much is a 1979 gold Krugerrand worth today?

As of December 2023, a gold Krugerrand is worth around $2.200,00. When buying Krugerrands, one should always expect to buy Krugerrands at a price a little above the spot price of gold.

Which year Krugerrand is most valuable?

The 1967 Krugerrand is the most valuable coin of the series. It was the first one-troy-ounce gold bullion coin available for private gold investment. During the apartheid policy, western countries vetoed Gold Krugerrands importation, which turned these initial strikes into highly collectible items.

Is Krugerrands a good investment?

Due to its composition, gold or silver, Krugerrands are bullion and are heavily used as a portfolio diversifier. Bullion products are made of precious metals, and these tend to retain value over time. Because of this, during periods of crisis, people tend to turn to physical gold due to its stability and liquidity. The Krugerrands have fractional sizes that make it possible to make the initial investment less costly.

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Mo Menezes
Mo Menezes
Researcher and Contributor

Murilo (Mo) Menezes is an attorney and tenured English professor. His passion for economics and coinage led him to the gold and silver industry where he writes in-depth articles about collectible coins; as well as coin news and investing articles...

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