By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for Coinweek …….
South African officials have announced the arrival of new coins honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, the majestic cheetah, and a distinctive type of anti-erosion structure called a dolos. The new coins include a limited-edition proof gold Krugerrand bearing a unique “QEII 90” mintmark, a cheetah coin that will be included in the new National Geographic Coin series, and sterling-silver crown and tickey “South African Inventions” coin series honoring dolosse (plural of “dolos”).
Perhaps garnering the most excitement in the numismatic community at this point is the Queen Elizabeth II 90th Birthday 1/10-ounce gold Krugerrand. This new coin represents the first time the South African Mint has celebrated a royal birthday on coinage. The coin will be available only in the United Kingdom from The London Mint Office and has an issue price of £297 ($427.77 USD).
The commemorative gold Krugerrand has an extremely limited mintage of just 260 coins and will be the only issue to exhibit the QEII 90 mintmark. According to officials at the South African Mint, the Krugerrand hearkens to an earlier period in the nation’s history and “kindles memories of a bygone era and symbolizes the romance and allure of gold.” The Kruggerand was originally released in 1967 as a one-ounce coin and became one of the world’s most popular and widely purchased gold bullion coins. Fractional varieties of the gold Krugerrand were introduced in the 1980s, including the half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and tenth-ounce gold coins.
The gold Krugerrand is in many respects reminiscent of a more European-influenced South Africa; elements of the coin’s design date back to 1892, which was the year that nation’s first coins circulated. Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic from 1883 through 1900, is featured on the obverse of the Krugerrand; the “rand” in the name of the coin interestingly comes from the Witwatersrand (“ridge of the white water”), where gold was discovered in 1886. The reverse design of the commemorative Queen Elizabeth II coin features the Krugerrand’s prancing springbok, the national animal. It was originally portrayed on a 1947 five-shilling coin honoring the British Royal Family’s visit to South Africa.
In addition to the 2016 Krugerrand Queen Elizabeth 90th Birthday gold coin, South Africa will offer two other types of commemorative coins, including a National Geographic Coin Series honoring the Big Cats Initiative.
Several details regarding the National Geographic Coin Series have yet to be released, as the topic was just approved during a government Cabinet meeting last week. However, initial government approval calls for a design featuring the cheetah. The cheetah holds a special place in South African culture and can sprint at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, making it the world’s fastest land mammal. During the same Cabinet meeting, a Sterling-silver crown and tickey coin series featuring dolosse was also approved. Dolosse are multi-faced concrete blocks weighing up to 20 tons that are used to shore up harbor walls against erosion. Dolosse were invented in the South African port city of East London in 1963 by either Eric Mowbray Merrifield or Aubrey Kruger – both have been alternately credited with the design of these unusual-looking devices.
Jeff Radebe, who serves as Minister in the Presidency of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation, says details of both the cheetah and dolosse coins will be unveiled in the Government Gazette and will be sold through standard distribution channels.
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