The Gold Krugerrand is a South Africa Gold Coin first minted in 1967 to help market South African gold and is produced by the South Africa Mint. By 1980, the Krugerrand accounted for 90% of the global gold coin market. The name itself is a compound of "Kruger" (the man depicted on the obverse) and "rand," the South African unit of currency.
The South African Gold Krugerrand has been minted in One-Tenth Troy Ounce, One-Quarter Troy Ounce, One-Half Troy Ounce and One Troy Ounce sizes. Proof Gold Krugerrands have also been struck in extremely limited numbers, as have special Mint Marked Gold Krugerrands. Another extremely limited Krugerrand issue is the Official First Strike Gold Krugerrands. These coins are certified by the South Africa Mint to be the first Krugerrands struck from new dies.
The Krugerrand was introduced in 1967 as a vehicle for private ownership of gold. Unusual for bullion coins, the Krugerrand was given the status of legal tender currency. To this end, it was minted in a more durable copper-gold alloy. By 1980 the Krugerrand accounted for 90% of the global gold coin market. That year South Africa introduced the three smaller coins with a half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and tenth ounces of gold.
The Krugerrand is 32.77 mm in diameter and 2.84 mm thick. Its actual weight is 1.0909 troy ounces (33.93 g). It is minted from gold alloy that is 91.67% pure (22 karats), so the coin contains one troy ounce (31.1035 g) of gold. The remaining 8.33% of the coin's weight (2.826 g) is copper (an alloy known historically as crown gold which has long been used for English Gold Sovereigns), which gives the Krugerrand a more orange appearance than silver-alloyed gold coins. Copper alloy coins are harder and more durable, so they can resist scratches and dents.
The coin is so named because the obverse bears the face of Boer statesman Paul Kruger, four-term president of the old South African Republic. The reverse depicts a Springbok, one of the national symbols of South Africa. The name "South Africa" and the gold content are inscribed on the coin in both Afrikaans and English.
Production levels of Krugerrands have significantly varied during the last 50 years. From 1967-1969, around 40,000 coins were minted each year. In 1970, the amount rose to over 200,000 coins. Over one million coins were produced in 1974 and in 1978 a total of six million Krugerrands were produced. Following the end of apartheid the production dropped to 23,277 coins in 1998 and since then levels have increased again, albeit not reaching pre-international sanction levels.
Krugerrand coins containing 46 million ounces of gold have been sold. During the great bull market in gold of the 1970s, the gold Krugerrand quickly became the number one choice for worldwide gold buyers. Between 1974 and 1985, it is estimated that 22 million gold Krugerrand coins were imported into the United States alone.
This huge success of the Krugerrand encouraged other gold-producing countries to mint and issue gold bullion coins of their own, including the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf in 1979, the China Gold Panda in 1982, the American Gold Eagle in 1986, and the British Gold Britannia in 1987.