A Guide to The Krugerrand: The World’s First Gold Coin
Regarded by many as one of the most highly sought-after coins in the world, the Krugerrand is an iconic gold coin that is steeped in history. This gold bullion originated in South Africa and was first minted in 1967. Since then, it’s become one of the most widely recognised and traded gold coins in the world and holds significance as the world’s first gold bullion ever produced.
In this guide, we explore the history of the Krugerrand and provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about this fascinating coin. For more insight into unusual coins, take a look at our guide to the rarest coins in the world.
History of the Krugerrand
Named after the former president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger, the Krugerrand was created in response to a time in South African history against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and political change. The gold coin quickly became an emblem of South Africa, remaining relatively unchanged throughout its history. Its name derives from putting the two South African words together, ‘Kruger,’ Paul’s surname and ‘rand,’ the national currency.
The creation of the Krugerrand appealed to investors and collectors alike, and by 1980, the Krugerrand made up 90% of the world’s gold coin trade. Through production of the Krugerrand, South Africa sought a way to promote its gold reserves amidst international trade restrictions during a time when other nations were adopting more restrictive measures against the precious metal.
How much are Krugerrands worth?
The value of Krugerrands can fluctuate widely based on a variety of factors, including the current market price of gold. As of July 2023, 1oz Krugerrand gold bullions had a sale price of £1,636.90. With no face value issued, the price and worth of Kruggerands change constantly – sometimes Krugerrands will have a face value exceeding its gold content, while at other times it may be worth far less than its gold content value.
What do Krugerrands look like?
Bearing the portrait of Paul Kruger on the obverse and a galloping springbok antelope (one of the country’s national symbols) on the reverse, the Krugerrand is a depiction of South Africa. The coin’s design has had minimal changes over the years and has largely stayed the same since it was first minted in 1967. Minor tweaks to the design include details to the ground underneath the springbok and the repositioning of the wording, ‘FYNGOUD 1 OZ FINE GOLD.’ There have also been small design changes to the animal itself, where original coins feature the springbok with thin, slim legs which changed over time to become larger and stronger looking.
Krugerrand bullion coins have a composition of gold alloy containing 91.67% gold (22 karats) and 8.33% copper which gives the coin its distinctive reddish hue. Originally minted as a 1oz coin weighing 33.9 grams, Krugerrands were introduced as fractional coins available as 1oz, 1/2oz, 1/4oz and 1/10oz coins to make them more affordable and accessible.
What is special about Krugerrands?
There are many reasons why Krugerrands are such special coins, not least because they were the first bullion coin to ever be produced in the world. Many other countries saw how successful Krugerrands became, serving as a catalyst for other countries to begin producing their own bullion coins. The Canadian Maple, American Eagle and British Britannia were all created following the success of the Krugerrand, proving the value of gold coins as collectables and not just as investments.
Other reasons why Krugerrands are so highly coveted include:
- Their rarity and uniqueness: In 1967 the first Krugerrand was minted and only 40,000 coins were ever issued, making these editions extremely rare.
- Their collectability: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original production of the Krugerrand, a platinum version of the coin was minted in 2018 as a proof collectable.
- Krugerrands are the most traded bullion coins in the world, marking a turning point in coinage history.
Can Krugerrands be used as legal tender?
These iconic gold bullion coins are considered legal tender in South Africa, meaning that they can be used to pay for goods and services, but in many countries, they are typically treated as collectable and investment bullion coins rather than currency.
Collecting and investing in Krugerrands
Gold bullion coins are primarily considered investment pieces due to their value being closely tied to the current market price of gold. Krugerrands are also seen as investment pieces in the same way, especially with investors looking to own physical gold and diversify their portfolios.
For many coin enthusiasts and numismatists, the uniqueness and fascinating history of the Krugerrand lends itself to be more of a collector’s item than an item to trade. Just like any collectable, the condition of the Krugerrand plays a significant role in its value and uncirculated or proof Krugerrands in mint condition tend to command higher prices. Similarly, certain years, like 1967 when the first Krugerrand was ever minted, are often considered rarer and more valuable.
Our tips on coin grading offer insight if you’re interested in learning more about rare coins and how they are graded. You can also find out more about how to start your own coin collecting adventure with our guide to coin collecting.
Krugerrands as gifts and heirlooms
Whilst Krugerrands appeal to both professional and private investors, some also choose to buy Krugerrands for alternative reasons.
Krugerrands are commonly bought as gifts when only a grand gesture of a keepsake will do. There’s nothing more special than a rare or unique coin keepsake, especially one that is so rich in history like the Krugerrand. Giving a gift of gold offers a financial investment that can be treasured for a lifetime or passed to future generations for years to come.
There’s no denying the powerful and fascinating history that surrounds the Krugerrand. Evoking the spirit of South Africa and paving the way for future bullion coins, it’s easy to see why this wonderful coin is so highly coveted amongst investors, collectors and coin enthusiasts around the world. With an iconic design that has stood the test of time and a legacy spanning generations, the Krugerrand stands not only as an exciting investment and collectable but as a timeless keepsake that can be treasured for a lifetime.