Most investors who buy gold in the form of gold coins probably know that the South African Gold Krugerrand coins dominated the world's gold coin market in the 1980's and early 1990's. Much less known is the fact that Gold Krugerrands 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.
The South African Krugerrand gold coins are made out of 91.67% pure gold just like the also popular American Gold Eagle coins. 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 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 Krugerrands.
|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|
|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|
The obverse side of the South African Krugerrands was designed by Otto Schultz. It bears the portrait of Paul Kruger who was the 5th president of the South African Republic from 1883 until 1900. Paul Kruger is still remembered today in South Africa 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 the image of 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. Gold Krugerrand coins don't have a mint mark 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".
The 1 oz proof version of the South African Gold Krugerrand coin 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 Krugerrands 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 1 oz proof version of the South African Gold Krugerrand that was minted in the year 1977. These coins exist with 220 serrations as well as 188 serrations.
The South African Krugerrand gold 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. 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.
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. Annual mintage numbers of the South African Gold Krugerrand coins have 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).