Spies always seem to have a few Krugerrands “just in case”. The movie Lethal Weapon II started with a car chase that uncovered a stash of Krugerrands. There are many gold coins in the world, American Buffalo’s, Canadian Maple Leafs, English Sovereigns and China Pandas, but the South African Krugerrand seem more exotic. So what is this mysterious gold bullion coin?
Like many other countries, South Africa had a gold rush. It occurred in the late 1800s and it was called the Witwatersrand Gold Rush. It subsequently led to the founding of Johannesburg. The leader of South Africa at the time of the gold rush was Paul Kruger. You can find his effigy stamped on every Krugerrand. Rand is also the name of South African currency, so the name is just a combination of Kruger and rand. On the reverse is a springbok antelope, the national animal of South Africa.
Ban on Krugerrands
South Africa began minting these coins in 1967 as a way to promote the country. At the time, many countries including the US didn’t allow its people to own gold. South African Krugerrand’s dominated the international trade (and use in movies). International sanctions on South Africa due to its apartheid system led to a ban on the trade of these coins for many years. Trade was allowed in 1994 when apartheid was abandoned.
The Krugerrand is a bit more brownish than many gold coins. This is because it is ‘FINE GOLD’. The coins are 91.67% gold and 8.33% copper. This alloy is harder and resistant to wear than a 99.99% gold coin. But the coins says ‘1 ounce gold’- how is that possible. Interestingly every Krugerrand actually weight 1 1/11th ounce so that there is exactly 1 ounce of gold.
The Krugerrand has not regained its dominant position in the gold coin trade, but it is highly collected. And if you have a few, maybe you can be a spy too.