The History of the South African Mint
It all began in 1890, after gold was first discovered in 1886 near the Witwatersrand area of Johannesburg. (If you’re interested, you can read more about this in our blog post on Gold Discovery and Production in South Africa). President Paul Kruger decided that establishing a mint in South Africa would solve two major issues. Firstly, there was a serious shortage of circulation coins and secondly because it would provide a means for the Republic to manufacture its own currency. The State Mint was officially opened on 6 July 1892 on the North West corner of Church Square in Pretoria and the original corner stone, which was placed by Kruger, can still be found there.
When the British occupied Pretoria at the turn of the 20th century, the mint ceased all operations and as a result of the war, British currency became the new legal tender. In 1919, the Mint Act approved the establishment of the Royal Mint in Pretoria, (which was a branch of the Royal Mint in London) and in 1923 the first gold pound was struck here. On 1 July 1941, bonds with the Royal Mint were broken and it subsequently became known as the South African Mint.
British currency was however still used until 1961, when South Africa became a Republic. A new monetary system was introduced which was made up of denominations from a half cent to R2. The R2’s replaced the British sovereign and the R1, the half sovereign and these coins became the first gold bullion coins in the country’s history. During 1980, the South African Mint was privatised, as part of the deregulation of government activities, and the South African Reserve Bank became the new holding company.
The location of the ‘new’ South African Mint at Centurion was officially opened in October 1992. The facilities at the mint comprise very high tech, modern technology, making it one of the most advanced manufacturers of coins in the world. The mint doesn’t only produce South African coins though; it has also been commissioned to supply coins to countries throughout the world. To date, The South African Mint has received numerous awards, the most recent of these was in January this year when it was named the winner of the 2011 Coin of the Year Award for its 1oz. gold R100coin featuring the endangered White Rhino (pictured below.)
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