South African Gold Krugerrand Coins

gold coin icon South Africa flag icon South African Krugerrand Coins - the world's most traded gold bullion coins

Most investors who buy gold in the form of gold coins probably know that the South African Gold Krugerrands dominated the world's gold coin market in the 1980's and early 1990's. Much less known is the fact that Gold Krugerrand coins are still the most traded gold bullion coins in the world. That is partly due to their longer history compared to other gold bullion coins. The South African Mint started minting the coins already in 1967, twelve years before the Canadian Gold Maple Leafs were first minted for example.

Each South African Krugerrand gold coin is made out of 91.67% pure gold just like the also popular American Gold Eagles. The alloying with 8.33% copper makes the 22 karat Gold Krugerrand appear a bit more orange compared with other gold bullion coins. Copper-alloyed coins like the Krugerrand are also more resistant to scratches and dents. However, if you are investing in gold for your retirement, it is important to note that the coins are not eligible for inclusion in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's).

The South African Gold Krugerrand coins are offered with brilliant uncirculated and proof finishes in the four denominations of 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz. The coins are legal tender in South Africa even though there is no face value imprinted on them. Their legal value is tied to the current market price of gold. The South African government guarantees the weight, metal content and purity of the Gold Krugerrands.

obverse side of the 2012 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz South African Krugerrand gold coin
reverse side of the 2012 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz South African Gold Krugerrand coins

Coin Specifications

Weight Purity Diameter x Thickness
1 oz 91.67% 32.8 x 2.84 mm
1/2 oz 91.67% 27 x 2.2 mm
1/4 oz 91.67% 22 x 1.89 mm
1/10 oz 91.67% 16.5 x 1.35 mm
reverse side of the 2017 issue of the proof 1/50 oz South African Krugerrand gold coin with anniversary privy mark
privy marked 1/50 oz proof Krugerrand 2017.

Additional 2017 Proof Coins

Weight Purity Diameter
50 oz 91.67% 100 mm
5 oz 91.67% 50 mm
1/20 oz 91.67% 12 mm
1/50 oz 91.67% 8 mm

Gold Krugerrand Coin Design

The obverse side of the South African Krugerrand coins, designed by Otto Schultz, is adorned with the portrait of Paul Kruger. He was the 5th president of the South African Republic from 1883 until 1900 and is remembered for his heroic leadership in the fight of the Boers against the British during the Second Boer War. The words "South Africa" and its native equivalent “Suid Afrika” are printed around Kruger's head.

The reverse side of the Gold Krugerrand coin shows South Africa’s springbok antelope galloping across the grassy savanna. The coin's actual gold content, year of mintage and the title “Krugerrand” appear along its edge. The image was designed by Coert Steynberg (7 January 1905 - 28 July 1982), an internationally acclaimed South African sculptor. It had been previously used on the South African five shilling coin. South African Krugerrand gold coins don't have a mintmark but some special editions display a privy mark on the reverse.

For the 50th anniversary of the Krugerrand in 2017, all coins were adorned with a special circular privy mark on the reverse. This privy mark shows the number 50 surrounded by a circular inscription made up of the years "1967" and "2017" and the words "YEAR ANNIVERSARY".

Variations of the Gold Krugerrand

The 1 oz Gold Krugerrand in its proof mintage has 220 serrations along the border whereas the standard brilliant uncirculated version has only 160 serrations. However, the 3 smaller denominations of the South African Gold Krugerrand have the same number of serrations, no matter whether brilliant uncirculated or proof: 185 serrations on the 1/2 oz coin, 150 serrations on the 1/4 oz coin and 115 serrations on the 1/10 oz coin. The only exception to this rule is the 1977 mintage of the 1 oz Gold Krugerrand with a proof finish. These coins exist with 220 serrations as well as 188 serrations.

History of the Gold Krugerrands

The South African Gold Krugerrand coin was introduced in 1967 in order to encourage the private ownership of gold. The coins were not mass-produced in the first three years between 1967 and 1969. The bullion coins that were minted in those years in limited numbers were proof-like. Mass production of uncirculated Krugerrands only started in 1970.

Even though the South African Krugerrands have no face value imprinted on them, they are in fact legal tender in South Africa with their legal value tied to the current market price of gold. South African Gold Krugerrands dominated the world's gold coin market in the 1980's and early 1990's with a market share of about 90%, even though some Western governments didn't permit the import of Krugerrands during South Africa's Apartheid years (until 1994).

The three smaller Krugerrand denominations of 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/2 oz are minted since 1980. In 2017 for the Krugerrand's 50th anniversary, four additional denominations of 50 oz, 5 oz, 1/20 oz and 1/50 oz were added to the lineup. These four denominations are only available in this anniversary year as limited edition proof coins.

The South African Mint produces all proof Krugerrands on its own. However, the bullion version of the Gold Krugerrand coins is manufactured jointly with the Rand Refinery.

Mintage Numbers

Around 40,000 coins were minted annually in the years 1967 - 1969. Production levels exploded through the start of mass production in the following years to 211,018 coins in 1970 and 3.2 million coins in 1974. The mintage record for a denomination was set in 1978 when 6,012,293 uncirculated 1 oz Gold Krugerrands were minted. Production plummeted after the end of the Apartheid regime to 23,277 ounces (total accumulated production of all sizes) in 1998 and even just 10,539 total ounces in 2000. The 6,657 uncirculated coins of the 1 oz denomination that were minted that year are also a record low. Mintage of South African Krugerrands has generally increased slowly but steadily since then.

The rarest proof coins are undoubtedly the 60 coins that were each minted of the 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz denomination in 1980. The proof mintage record are the 21,040 coins of the 1 oz denomination that were minted in 1986.

reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz Silver Krugerrands

South African Silver Krugerrands

The South African Mint started issuing Krugerrand coins out of silver in 2017. These new silver bullion coins are 99.9% pure. Only uncirculated and proof 1 oz coins are offered for now and their mintage is capped at 500,000 and 15,000 pieces respectively. The Silver Krugerrands display the same design of Paul Kruger (obverse) and a springbok (reverse) as the best-selling South African Gold Krugerrands (which still are the most traded gold bullion coins worldwide). The silver version of the coins is a little bigger though, having a slightly larger diameter than the gold coins. A special "50 year anniversary" privy mark appears on the reverse side of the new silver coins as well. Whereas Gold Krugerrands don't have an official face value, Silver Krugerrands have an official face value of 1 Rand.

reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz Platinum Krugerrands

South African Platinum Krugerrands

The South African Mint started producing Krugerrand coins out of platinum in 2017. The coins are 99.99% pure whereas most other platinum bullion coins are 'only' 99.95% pure. Only 1 oz proof coins are issued for now that are comparable in their dimensions to the 1 oz Gold Krugerrand coins. Mintage is capped at 1,967 pieces in order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Krugerrand coins that were first issued in 1967. Just like the Silver Krugerrands, Platinum Krugerrand coins have an official face value (10 Rand) which the gold coins do not have. The design of both sides is identical to the gold and silver coins and shows Paul Kruger's portrait on the obverse and a springbok on the reverse. The 50th anniversary privy mark appears on the reverse as well.

South African Krugerrand Gold Coin Sets

1987 South African Gold Krugerrand proof set certified by the South African Gold Coin Exchange

4-Coin Krugerrand Proof/Prestige Set

total gold weight: 1.85 oz

These sets contain one proof coin of every denomination (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz). Only a few hundred such sets were usually issued in certain years. Additionally, the 4 coins in the set were sometimes certified by the South African Gold Coin Exchange (SAGCE). In more recent years, the coins were sometimes labeled as First Strike.

5 coin proof set with bonus gold medal of the South African Krugerrand gold coins issued in 2000

5-Coin Krugerrand Proof/Prestige Set

total gold weight: 1.85 oz + Bonus

The 5 coin Gold Krugerrand proof sets contain the 4 proof Krugerrand coins (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz) and a bonus coin, medal or medallion. Sometimes the medallion included a diamond. At other times, the bonus was a silver or bimetallic gold & silver coin/medal/medallion.

2005 Treasures of Africa 2 piece proof set of the South African Gold Krugerrand coin

2005 "Treasures of Africa" Proof Set

total gold weight: 1 oz

This set contains the 1 oz proof Krugerrand gold coin plus a 12 gram miniature crown and a 5 gram scepter (both out of sterling silver gilded in 24-karat gold and adorned with a 0.05 carat diamond). The SA Mint issued the set in 2005 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the discovery of the Cullinan Diamond.

2015 fractional Krugerrand Set

3+1 Coin Fractional Krugerrand Set

total gold weight: 0.85 oz

The fractional Gold Krugerrand coin sets include the 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz fractional Gold Krugerrand coins plus a bonus silver coin or medal. These sets are specifically issued for export. Only a few hundred such sets are made in certain commemorative years (e.g. in 2015 to commemorate 15 years of the Coat of Arms of South Africa).