The Krugerrand does not depict any face value on either side of the coin. The reasoning for this unusual decision was to express the Krugerrand’s value by linking its fine gold content, which is portrayed on the reverse of the coin, with the prevailing market price of gold.
The Krugerrand gold coin created by the South African gold-mining industry
South Africa was the largest gold mining nation during the mid 20th century, contributing almost 50% to the annual global mine supply. To more easily sell this abundant supply of gold, the South African gold mining industry came up with the idea to develop a circulating gold bullion coin that would exclusively contain gold from the South African mines. The idea was approved by the South African Central Bank which authorized the creation of the legal tender Krugerrand gold coin. The Krugerrand gold coin was struck for the first time in the early 1970s by the South African Mint and would prove to be the most successful gold bullion coin ever to be issued by the Republic of South Africa.
Krugerrand gold coins portray President Kruger
The obverse of the Krugerrand gold coin depicts Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, former president of the Transvaal Republic. Kruger would rise to international fame as the head of the Boer resistance against British forces in the late 19th century. The Boers, predominately Dutch-speaking settlers from Europe who lived in South Africa, tired of being ruled by the British Empire, decided to create their own independent country under the name Transvaal. Paulus Kruger, who was also a descendant of the Boers, would become a leading figure in the Boer quest to become a self-governed nation inside the territories of the British controlled South Africa.
Kruger came from a simple background; born on a farm in 1825 in South Africa he lacked any formal education, although his proficiency in hunting and horse riding would prove to be of good use during his military service in the Transvaal army. He advanced fairly quickly in the army ranks and by his early 40s was already promoted to Commandant-General of the Transvaal forces. Kruger’s skills went beyond being a soldier, since he was a fine diplomat as well. In 1877, when the Boers clashed for the first time against Britain, Kruger through diplomatic means secured a victory for the Boers. This boosted his popularity, and as a result, he was elected president of the Transvaal Republic in the general elections that followed three years later.
The South African Krugerrand contains gold from the richest gold deposit on earth
Unfortunately, the peace between the Boers and British did not last long, as large gold deposits were found inside the territories of the Transvaal Republic in an area called Witwatersrand. Even to this date, the Witwatersrand region is home to some of the richest gold deposits on earth; it is believed that almost 45% of all the gold ever mined on earth has come from this rich South African gold region. The British, determined to secure control over these vast riches, sent a huge force, by some estimates over 400,000 people strong, to combat the Boers. The Boers, greatly outnumbered by the British force, lost the war, and Transvaal was absorbed back into the British Empire in 1902. President Kruger who managed to escape to Europe never set foot again in Africa and he died in exile in Switzerland on 14 July 1904.