The South African rand has been South Africa’s official currency since its introduction on February 14, 1961. The monetary unit is divided into 100 cents and replaced the South African pound at a rate of 2 Rands to 1 Pound. It got its name from the Witwatersrand, a 56-kilometer long ridge that holds a massive quantity of gold as well as where the country’s capital city, Johannesburg was established.
The move away from the pounds, shillings, and pence denominations started with the Decimal Coinage Commission in 1956. Decimalized banknotes issued in 1961 were in 1, 2, 10, and 20 denominations. They all bear English and Afrikaan texts as well as feature the 1st Commander of the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck on the obverse and on the watermark. The two lower denominations feature a lion with a banner from the coat of arms while the larger denominations depict three-masted sailing ships and diamond mine buildings on the reverse, designs based on the South African pound issues. Bradbury, Wilkinson, & Company is the printer of these Rand banknotes.
The 1966 and 1976 issues of the rand banknotes were the first to be printed locally by the South African Bank Note Company. However these notes are smaller in size in comparison to the preceding issues.
Between 1992 and 1999, the South African Reserve Bank issued paper bills bearing the design by South African artists, in addition to highlighting the big five animals on the obverse along with their natural environment. On their reverse are the five aspects of economic activities. This set of banknotes is also has intaglio print to help the vision-impaired distinguish between denominations.
Modern South African Banknotes
In 2012, a new family of banknotes with all-new designs begins to circulate. Common elements to their designs are the national emblem and also the portrait of Nelson Mandela. He served as former president of the county and was also the first black head of the state. To mark his 100th birth anniversary, a commemorative series of banknotes was released in 2018. It circulated alongside the 2012 issues. Equipped with OVI or SPARK, this commemorative set has won the Best New Commemorative Banknote award in 1999.