South Africa has been one of the largest gold producers in the world for over 100 years, having minted many and varied Gold Coins since 1892. Among these are The Gold Pond, The British Gold Sovereign, the Gold Two Rand, the Gold Krugerrand, The Gold Protea and the Gold Natura Wildlife Coins. Other commemorative Gold Issues have been struck from time to time, most notably Nelson Mandela Gold Commemorative Coins.
The history of South African Gold Coins starts with the Witwatersand Gold Rush of 1886. Like previous massive gold strikes, thousands of fortune seekers rushed to South Africa from around the world, leading to the founding of Johannesburg. Since the beginning of the Gold Rush, the precious metal was used to strike South African Gold Coins.
South Africa's first Gold Coins are the Half Pond (pound), the One-Pond and the Two Pond Gold coins struck between 1874 and 1900. The Pond Coins are equivalent in size and gold content to British Gold Sovereigns. The later Pond coins feature what would become one of the two most famous gold images on South African Gold Coins, the bust of Paul Kruger. It's been used almost unchanged on the Gold Krugerrand ever since 1967.
British Gold Half Sovereigns and Sovereigns were minted between 1923 and 1932. These coins are exactly the same as Gold Sovereigns issued at other Mints around the world. They feature the current ruler on the obverse and Benedetto Pistrucci's image of St. George slaying the dragon on the reverse. Sovereigns struck in South Africa have and "SA" Mint mark centered below St. George. Gold Sovereigns from South Africa are the only Sovereigns struck on the continent of Africa, one of the five continents on which they were struck.
Between 1952 and 1962, the South African Mint struck Half Pond and Pond Gold coins in the same size and gold content as the British Gold Sovereigns. The 1952 Gold Half and Pond coins feature an image that would later become famous on the Gold Krugerrand, the Springbok Antelope. Between 1961 and 1983 the South African Mint struck Two-Rand Gold coins in the same size and gold content as the British Gold Sovereign.
The Krugerrand, certainly South Africa's most famous Gold Coin and arguably the best known Gold coin in the world, was first minted in 1967 and continues to be struck yearly in denominations of One-Tenth Troy Ounce Gold Krugerrand, One-Quarter Troy Ounce Gold Krugerrand, One-Half Troy Ounce Gold Krugerrand, and One Troy Ounce Gold Krugerrand.
The Gold Protea Coins were first struck in 1988 and feature South Africa's most famous flower. They are struck in One-Tenth Troy Ounce and One Troy Ounce Gold. The Gold Natura Series features spectacular images of South African wildlife. They were first minted in 1994. Each year features a different animal. The Natura series has won countless international design awards, including the coveted "Gold Coin of The Year" award.
South African Gold Coins are all legal tender issues. Although most are struck in 91.7% pure gold, each coin contains a true weight of pure gold. What this means is that the coins are actually slightly heavier than coins struck in .999 fine gold.