The history of the South African mint

Today, all South African coins are produced by the South African Mint Company. The Mint traces its origins back to 1886 when gold was first discovered in Johannesburg. Overnight, thousands of people flocked to the country causing an unprecedented level of expansion and commerce. President Paul Kruger realized that South African currency was sorely needed to make up for the shortfall of coins in circulation.

In 1890, the South African parliament granted a concession to a consortium of Dutch, German and British investors to establish a national bank and mint. The State Mint and Bank was built in Pretoria and was officially opened in July 1892. It produced coins based on the British sizes and denominations. The Mint was closed in 1900 when the British seized control of Pretoria during the second Anglo-Boer War.

After the war, British currency became the accepted currency in South Africa. However there was a growing feeling among the mining and banking community that the country needed its own mint instead of importing coins from overseas. Consequently, another mint was built in Pretoria in 1923. The Royal Mint of Pretoria was established as a branch of the Royal Mint in London. It produced coins that were identical in size, metal content and denomination to the British coins. However, the South African coins had unique reverse designs.

In 1941 the South African Government took over the Royal Mint. The new South African Mint continued to produce the same coins as previously. It was only in 1961 when South Africa became a republic and left the Commonwealth that a new coin system was introduced. From then on the Mint produced the new monetary unit, the Rand.

In 1988 the South African Mint was privatized, with the SA Reserve Bank as the holding company. It became known as the South African Mint Company and was rebuilt in the city of Centurion. The Mint produces all South African coinage as well as circulation coins for the export market, minting coins that are used as currency in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. It also produces silver and gold coins for the collector’s market.  These include the world famous Kruger rand, as well as the Natura and Protea Series, amongst others.

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