What are Krugerrands?
Krugerrands are gold bullion coins minted in South Africa. The Krugerrand was first minted in 1967, a co-production of the South African Mint and the Rand Refinery, a precious metals refining company.
The coin’s name is derived from the name, Paul Kruger, and the South African rand, the basic unit of currency in South Africa. Paul Kruger was the first Boer President of the country, serving from 1883 to the turn of the century in 1900. Thus, “Kruger” and “rand” combine to create the Krugerrand.
The coin features a depiction of President Kruger on the obverse side and a depiction of the South African Republic’s national animal – the springbok – on the reverse side. The word “Krugerrand” is engraved on the reverse side, above the springbok. Below the springbok image, the amount and purity of the coin’s gold content are inscribed. The obverse side is engraved with “Suid Afrika – South Africa.” Krugerrands are legal tender in South Africa.
- Krugerrands are gold bullion coins of South Africa, originally produced in 1967.
- The coins are extremely popular with investors; over 50 million have been produced and sold as of 2018.
- Krugerrands are made up of only 91.67% gold but contain one full troy ounce of gold.
History of the Krugerrand
The Krugerrand coin was specifically produced to offer an easy means for private investors to access the gold bullion market. For the purpose it was created, the Krugerrand exceeded expectations and was wildly successful. It quickly became the most popular gold bullion coin worldwide, and by the end of the 1970s, the term “Krugerrands” was largely synonymous with “gold coins.” If someone said they invested in Krugerrands, it was taken to mean they collected gold coins.
Krugerrands became especially popular with U.S. gold investors, as the commodities markets enjoyed a major bull market during the 1970s. The price of gold soared to over $2,200 an ounce by the end of the decade – a price level it would not approach again until 2011. U.S. investors bought tens of millions of Krugerrands. At that time, no U.S. bullion coins were being minted. The American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins did not arrive on the scene until 1986.
The Krugerrand’s Success
The Krugerrand’s success spawned the minting of gold bullion coins in several other countries as well. Canada began minting its gold “Maple Leaf” coins in 1979, and China’s one-ounce gold “Panda” followed in 1982.
The demand level for Krugerrands varied widely over the years. It rose steadily throughout the 1970s, declined through the late 1980s and into the 1990s, then began to increase again around 1999. Annual production levels reached as low as 24,000 and as high as six million.
By 2018, there were more than 50 million ounces of gold Krugerrands produced. In contrast, while gold American Eagle one-ounce bullion coins also became immensely popular, only about 20 million ounces of them were produced since their original 1986 minting. At one time, the South African Krugerrands made up roughly 90% of all the gold bullion coins in existence worldwide.
Originally, there was just the one-ounce gold Krugerrand coin. The mintings now to include the production of 1/2-ounce, 1/4-ounce, and 1/10-ounce coins.
In addition to the coins being sold outright, Krugerrands are also traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
How Krugerrands Are Made
Krugerrands were designed to be durable. Therefore, they are comprised of an alloy of gold and copper. Because the coins are only 91.67% gold (the remainder, 8.33%, copper) – 22 karats – they are manufactured to weigh a bit more than one ounce total (1 and 1/11 ounces) so that they contain one full troy ounce of gold.
The partially copper composition makes Krugerrands more resistant to scratches compared to gold bullion coins that are pure gold, which is one reason for the desirability and popularity of the Krugerrand over many other gold bullion coins. The copper component also gives Krugerrands a somewhat orange-hued tint compared to bullion coins that are pure gold.
The South African Reserve Bank limits the exportation of Krugerrands. Visitors to South Africa may take no more than 15 coins maximum with them when they leave the country.
Silver Added to the Mintage
The resurgent popularity of gold Krugerrands, coupled with rising gold and silver prices, led to the creation of one-ounce silver Krugerrand bullion coins beginning in 2018. The 99.9% fine silver Krugerrand coin features the same design as the original gold Krugerrand.
On the 50th anniversary of the original production of the Krugerrand in 2018, a platinum version of the coin was minted as a proof collectible. Proof coins include 60 more edge serrations than the ordinary bullion coins.
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