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The Proof Krugerrands of South Africa

Guest Author - Raymond F. Hanisco



One of the best-kept secrets, and least understood group of
coins, by Americans, are the Proof Krugerrands.  When one hears the word
Krugerrand in the United States, it conjures up thoughts of a gold coin from
South Africa worth the current price of gold, purchased by investors, not
collectors; or, images of coins stashed by the diabolical enemies of Martin and
Riggs in the movie Lethal Weapon 2.  Even most Coin Dealers in the
United States consider these Proofs as some sort of second-rate coin not worth
their time or effort.  The Proof Krugerrand is a very popular and heavily
collected coin in the rest of the world.  Why are Americans so uneducated
on the Proof Krugerrand?  Let's investigate the Proof Krugerrand and the
politics surrounding it, and when we are finished, I will be willing to bet many
of you will be wondering why you're not collecting them.


Politics is one of the main factors contributing to the lack of
knowledge about Proof Krugerrands in America.  In 1933, President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt executed Executive Orders banning the ownership of gold by
United States citizens.  These Executive Orders were an attempt to
stabilize the banking system, and to move the United States economy from a duel
metal standard (gold and silver) to the silver standard alone.  By the time
these Orders were reversed in 1974, the Krugerrand and their Proofs had been on
the world market for seven years.  It would, however, take another 15 years
before Americans would become exposed to the Krugerrand for the very first time. 
Why?  In 1962, President John F. Kennedy and Congress responded to national
and international pressures to impose sanctions against South Africa for her
stand on apartheid.  When South African President F.W. deKlerk finally
repealed the discriminatory Apartheid Laws, explaining them as a failed social
experiment, the United States finally lifted their sanctions in conjunction with
the United Nations.  That was in 1989.  The Krugerrand was on the
international market for 22 years by that time, and the initial enthusiasm over
the coins and their Proofs had waned.


The Krugerrand was introduced to the world market by South
Africa in 1967.  Initially it was produced as a one-ounce, 22 karat gold
coin.  In 1980, the fractional Krugerrands of the 1/2-ounce, 1/4-ounce and
1/10-ounce were released.  The obverse of the coin features a portrait of
Paul Kruger, the "Father of the Afrikaner Nation," and the reverse displays the
Springbok antelope or gazelle (Antidorcas Marsupialis), the national
animal of South Africa.  There have been more Krugerrands struck over the
years then all the other bullion coin combine, but we are not
investigating the pure bullion coins; we are addressing the Proofs.  So,
let's get to it.


When the Krugerrand was first issued, both Proofs and
uncirculated (bullion) coins were released.  The Proof issues of 1967 had a
mirror finish on both sides.  This proved to be very confusing to the
public because they found it extremely difficult to identify the Proof coins
from the uncirculated ones.  Even today, many coin dealers, both in the
United States and in Europe, consider all 1967 Krugerrands to be uncirculated
coins unless graded and certified by one of the major grading services.  In
an attempt to alleviate the confusion, as well as to keep up with the new
numismatic technology, the South African Mint began, in 1968, to experiment with
making Proofs different in appearance from the regular issue coins.  It
started with the use of a frosted finish on the devices or images.  It was
a technique developed in France a few years earlier, and was incorporated by all
future bullion coin programs on their Proof issues.  The year 1968 was an
experimental year for the Krugerrand Proofs.  While coin catalogs list two
varieties of Proofs for that year (a mirror obverse with a frosted reverse
device and frosted devices on both sides), in actuality there are four
varieties, the other two are:  mirror finishes on both sides and frosted
devices on the obverse with a mirror finished reverse.  There are no
mintage numbers on the latter two, they are just difficult to find, and not
commonly known.  The truth is, the South African Mint did not completely
perfect their Proof manufacturing technique until 1975.  Other varieties
found within the Proof Krugerrand series are: in 1977, there are two variations
in the serrations of the reeded edge, the 188 and the 220 varieties, but who
wants to count them; then there are the mintmark varieties with the GRC (Gold
Reef City) appearing in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991; the SS (Sabi Sabi)
mintmark in 1997; and the CW (Coin World) mintmark emerged in 2001.  These
special mintmark Proofs are found along with the regular issue Proofs.  The
30th Anniversary Krugerrand with a special privy mark (a symbol similar
to a mintmark) is dated 1997.


The 30th Anniversary Krugerrand is listed in many American coin
catalogs as having a mintage of only 30 pieces for each denomination.  Some
of the foreign coin catalogs list the mintage at 330 for each.  My sources
tell me that the original Certificates of Authenticity lists the mintages at
1000, and there are also 500 Anniversary Proof Sets, known; however, whether the
actual mintages would be 1000 or 1500 is unclear.  What can be logically
surmised is the mintage is at least, on this issue, in the range of 1000, not
30.


It is well advised, when purchasing South African Krugerrands
that one should purchase only independently graded and certified individual
coins.  Proof sets in the original mint packaging with the original
Certificates of Authenticity, purchased from reliable coin dealers are an
exception, however there are also Proof Krugerrands, which have been graded and
certified by the granddaddy of all grading services, SAGCE (South African Gold
Coin Exchange).  SAGCE was grading and certifying Proof Krugerrands long
before either of their American counterparts even existed.  Although the
SAGCE method of grading on a number scale is somewhat a mystery, here are a
couple of guidelines that will help you determine the quality of a SAGCE graded
coin.  Proof Krugerrands dated between 1967 and 1974 are graded on a point
scale between 80 to 99, and Proofs from 1975 to date are graded on a scale
between 90 to 110.


In examining the mintages of the Proof Krugerrands (see mintages
at the end of this article), one will notice that all the coins have relatively
small numbers for worldwide distribution.  Even when the mintages are in
the 10,000 to 20,000 range, the numbers are still relatively small especially
when compared to the current day U.S. Mint numbers.  If one looks at the
mintages of the one-ounce Proof Gold Eagles by date you will certainly see
the differences; in 1986 there was 446,290, 1987 the mintage was 147,498, 1988
the mint made 87,133, in 1989 there was 53,960 made, 1990 equals 62,401, 1991
lists 50,411, 1992 shows 44,835, 1993 the published mintage is 34,389, and as a
matter of fact, one of the lowest mintages occurred in 1999 which equals 26,047. 
So, the lowest of the mintages of the U.S. Proof Gold Eagles is still higher
then the largest of the Proof Krugerrands.  One could conservatively says
on average the mintage of the Proof Krugerrands is only 25% of that of its
United States counterpart.


The last area one needs to investigate, when considering
collecting Proof Krugerrands, is the end game, i.e., how and where can I go to
sell these coins when you are ready to liquidate them.  It is true that
most U.S. Coin Dealers are uneducated when it comes to Proof Krugerrands. 
They either do not want to be bothered, or they are happy in their current niche  One must evolve with the
changing market.  The world is becoming smaller.  Major U.S. auction
houses have already started to merge with their European counterparts. 
EBay has brought the world closer together by hosting sellers and buyers from
all over the world, and through its live auctions.  Within the next five to
ten years, the coin market will look much different then it is today.  We
will find a freer flow of goods and services around the world, thus a wider
market and a larger number of collectors competing for coins and other products that
are limited in scope.  The ANA (American Numismatic Association) recognizes
this as fact and has been encourage American Coin Dealers to expand
their scope and knowledge.  It is the savvy coin collector and Coin
Dealer, who will take advantage of the current market because they recognize the trends, and it is those who will benefit from what
the future holds in store for them.


I want to thank Mr. Alan Posnick of from the State of New York
for his assistance in the verification of information on the Proof Krugerrand.


Mintages of the Proof Krugerrand


Key


/// - No coins minted                                                                          n/a - No verifiable information was available as of this writing





































Date


1967


1968


1968


1968


1968


1969


1970


1971


1972


1973


1974


1975


Varieties


--


Frosted Rev.


Frosted Obv.


Dbl. Mirror


Dbl. Frosted


--


--


--


--


--


--


--


1-Ounce


10,000


8,956


Incl. above


Incl. above


1,044


10,000


10,000


6,000


6,625


10,000


6,352


5,600


1/2-Ounce


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


1/4-Ounce


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


1/10-Ounce


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


///


1976


1977


1977


1978


1979


1980


1981


1982

1983


1984

1985


1986

1987


1987


--


188 Reed Edge


220 Reed Edge


--


--


--


--


--

--


--

--


--

--


GRC mintmark


6,600


8,500


Incl. above


10,000


12,000


12,000


13,000


17,000

19,000


14,000

10,000


20,000

11,000


1,650


///


///


///


///


///


60


9,000


13,000

14,000


9,900

5,945


8,002

5,389


1,186


///


///


///


///


///


60


7,500


11,000

12,000


13,000

6,700


8,001

6,050


1,121


///


///


///


///


///


60


7,500


11,000

12,000


13,000

6,700


8,001

6,065


1,126


Date


1988


1988


1989


1989


1990


1990


1991


1991


1992


1993


1994


1995


Varieties


--


GRC mintmark


--


GRC mintmark


--


GRC mintmark


--


GRC mintmark


--


--


--


--


1-Ounce


4,268


1,220


5,070


987


3,032


1,066


2,181


426


2,067


3,963


1,761


1,678


1/2-Ounce


2,282


1,026


3,727


399


2,850


1,066


3,459


426


1,501


2,439


2,146


1,012


1/4-Ounce


2,056


835


3,316


318


2,750


1,066


1,626


426


1,629


3,061


1,874


1,095


1/10-Ounce


2,056


948


3,316


377


3,459


1,096


3,524


426


1,789


3,811


n/a


750


1996


1997


1997


1997


1998


1999


2000


2001


2001


 


 


 


 


--


--


SS mintmark


30th Anniv. privy


--


--


--


--


CW mintmark


 


 


 


 


2,188


1,663


72


1,000


2,000


2,787


3,188


n/a


300


 


 


 


 


1,788


2,000


///


830


n/a


n/a


n/a


n/a


n/a


 


 


 


 


1,853


1,440


///


830


n/a


n/a


n/a


n/a


n/a


 


 


 


 


4,000


3,410


///


830


n/a


n/a


n/a


n/a


n/a


 


 


 


 


 





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Content copyright © 2014 by Raymond F. Hanisco. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Raymond F. Hanisco. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Gary Eggleston for details.

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