You’ve probably heard of a gold Krugerrand. But what is it? The Krugerrand is a 22-karat gold coin composed of 91.67% gold and 8.33% copper, produced by the South African Mint and Rand Refinery.
Krugerrand gold coins are popular among numismatists interested in collecting coins for their historical and aesthetic value. They are also a favorite among gold stackers primarily interested in the value of the coin’s physical gold content.
Popularity has fluctuated since South Africa minted the coin in 1967, seeing a downturn during the 1980s and 90s until apartheid ended in 1994. The gold Krugerrand and its silver and platinum variations remain as popular as ever. Coin collectors and people who prefer to safeguard their wealth through buying gold and other precious metals still share enthusiasm for Krugerrands of all kinds.
However, it is important to note that the gold Krugerrand is not a gold IRA-eligible bullion coin. We’ll discuss why a little later. But, for diligent coin collectors and precious metals stackers, it’s important to understand the history of this special South African gold coin.
A Brief History of the South African Gold Krugerrand Coin
On July 3, 1967, the South African Mint collaborated with Rand Refinery to mint the first 1-ounce gold Krugerrand coins. The name “Krugerrand” combines the last name of Paul Kruger, former president of the South African Republic, and rand, a unit of South African currency.
The original Krugerrand was minted according to the following specifications:
- Weight/mass: 1 Troy ounce
- Metal composition: 91.67% gold (Au), 8.33% copper (Cu)
- Size: 32.77 mm diameter, 2.84 mm thick
- Obverse (front/heads): Features a side-profile portrait of Paul Kruger, based on the Otto Schultz portrait of Kruger, with the words “SUID-AFRIKA – SOUTH AFRICA” in Afrikaans and English, respectively.
- Reverse (back/tails): Features a pronking springbok antelope in the center, mint date on either side, “KRUGERRAND” at the top and “FYNGOUD 1 OZ FINE GOLD” at the bottom.
- Additional details: Each side of the bullion coin features 160 serrations around the circumference of the coin face. Later proof coin versions have 220 serrations.
Why Did the South African Mint Make the Gold Krugerrand?
Minting the Krugerrand achieved a few major goals by:
- Enabling private individuals to own gold. For most people, buying a bar of gold bullion wasn’t practical. Striking 1-ounce gold coins shaped South African gold into a size both portable and affordable.
- Expanding the market and demand for South African gold. In 1974, President Gerald Ford repealed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1933 Executive Order 6102, once again allowing American citizens to buy gold bullion in the form of coins and bars. People in the US were ready to buy gold, and Krugerrands were convenient to trade and carry, and they were attractive to collectors, too.
This strategy worked brilliantly. The South African gold Krugerrand had captured 90% of the gold bullion coin market worldwide by 1980.
However, the world grew more aware of South Africa’s apartheid government policy of segregation, and by the mid-1980s many western countries had imposed economic sanctions on the birthplace of the Krugerrand.
In 1985, the United States, which had been the largest market for the gold Krugerrand at its peak popularity, outlawed the purchase and importation of the popular gold coin. As the South African government began to dismantle its apartheid laws and practices, sanctions eased. In 1994, the US ended the ban on importing Krugerrand coins. Although the market for Krugerrand coins took a substantial hit from the economic sanctions, the coin remains popular today in its many forms. In 2017, the South African Mint marked the 50-year anniversary of its most famous gold coin.
Why Is This Gold Coin So Popular?
Despite political setbacks, the South African Krugerrand remains popular with coin collectors and bullion seekers alike. Many coins are valued as either numismatic coins or bullion coins.
Numismatic coins derive their value from their history, scarcity, condition as a graded coin according to the Sheldon coin grading scale, and demand on the coin market. Examples of numismatic coins include Mercury dimes, circulation coins with minting errors, and uncirculated proof coins that remain in pristine “mint” condition.
A bullion coin, on the other hand, derives its value primarily from its precious metal content. This means that the bullion coin’s value changes based on the current market value of the precious metal from which it is minted, such as gold, silver, platinum, or palladium.
South African Krugerrands can be valued both ways — as a numismatic coin or as a bullion coin. The design of the coin enables this dual valuation. Each Krugerrand includes the mint year, but does not have a face value, somewhat unusual for coins minted and considered government-backed legal tender. The absence of a face value led to gold prices determining the value of the coin. Beginning in 1989, the South African government officially declared the gold Krugerrand legal tender. That’s no problem in a stable gold market, but you can imagine the difficulty if the purchasing power of your currency fluctuates several rands or dollars from one day to the next. However, the appeal to coin collectors and bullion buyers remains strong. It’s no surprise that this coin has earned such widespread popularity by appealing to related yet different coin markets.
Different Kinds of Krugerrands: Size and Precious Metals Variations
From 1967 until 1980, the South African Mint offered only 1-ounce gold Krugerrands. The Mint introduced smaller sizes in 1980 — 1/2, 1/4, and 1/10 ounce gold coins — increasing accessibility to yet wider markets.
Krugerrand coins minted from silver and platinum arrived in 2017, the fiftieth anniversary of the original gold version. The SA Mint struck the silver Krugerrand from .999 fine silver and the platinum Krugerrand using .999 fine platinum. While Krugerrand coins are popular, it’s important to understand that they are not eligible for gold IRAs and other precious metals IRAs, according to IRS rules. Whether you’re thinking of buying Krugerrands as numismatic coins or as gold, silver, or platinum bullion, make sure you know why you’re buying and what that may mean for you before laying down your hard-earned money.
Bullion Coins Inspired by the Krugerrand
As happens when most products gain popularity, they inspire other similar versions, imitations, and alternatives.
In this case, the 1967 gold Krugerrand inspired some of the most popular precious metals mints to create special gold bullion coins:
- 1979 – the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf from the Royal Canadian Mint
- 1982 – the Chinese Gold Panda from the Official Mint of the People’s Republic of China
- 1986 – the American Gold Eagle from the United States Mint
- 1987 – the British Gold Britannia coin from the Royal Mint
- 1987 – the Australian Nugget from the Perth Mint
How Much Is a Gold Krugerrand Worth?
Maybe you bought or inherited a gold Krugerrand coin and you’re wondering how much it’s worth. It’s important to understand that the value of a Krugerrand can vary greatly depending on weight, gold spot price, and whether you want to determine its numismatic value or the value of its gold content.
As I will always do, I encourage you to conduct thorough research before making any decisions to buy gold or any other precious metals, in any form. Different people choose different options for different reasons. To get you started, make sure you’re aware of how to research spot prices. Also, check out these basic tips for buying gold.
Find out more about gold Krugerrands and other gold coins available from Rosland Capital.