graded coins

What Is a Gold Krugerrand?

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

1967 South Africa gold Krugerrand coin
1967 South Africa gold Krugerrand coin, PCGS MS67

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: 

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.

What’s the Difference Between Mint State Coins and Proof Coins?

New coin collectors and beginning numismatists often ask questions like: 

  • Are mint state coins or proof coins better? 
  • Are proof coins worth more than mint coins? 
  • What are uncirculated coins?

Answers to some of these questions will vary depending on context. One of the most important contexts is yours. As I have mentioned before, the best choice for you depends on your financial goals. The first step to determining which may be better for your portfolio or collection is understanding the difference between mint state coins and proof coins. This knowledge can help you decide which kind of coin you like better and what makes sense for you. 

So let’s find out: What’s the difference between mint coins and proof coins?

What are Mint State Coins?

A coin does not come into the world as a “Mint State” coin. Mint state is a description applied to certain coins graded according to the Sheldon Scale, where the coin is considered to be in the same state or condition as when the mint struck the coin. 

The Sheldon Scale, according to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), is a numeric grading scale ranging from 1 through 70. Based on the theory developed by Dr. William Sheldon, the famous numismatist, in 1948, a coin assigned the highest “Mint State” (MS) grade of MS-70 would be worth 70 times more than a coin graded as a 1. A coin graded MS-70 shows no post-production flaws or imperfections even at 5x magnification.

2014 50-dollar gold eagle mint state coin graded MS-69 by PCGS
2014 50-dollar gold eagle mint state coin graded MS-69 by PCGS

The Sheldon coin grading scale uses the letters MS, for “Mint State” for coins judged to score 60 or more on the 70-point scale. This system, used by some of the most respected authorities in the numismatic grading world – including the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and PCGS – allows for some flaws and imperfections on coins still graded as mint state. Sometimes these marks and imperfections occur during the striking and post-production handling process. However, coins officially graded as “mint state” are still at the top of the scale, ranging from MS-60 to MS-70.

The grading scales used by PCGS and NGC break down the criteria for each numeric grade as well as strike type.

Another question also comes up frequently: 

What’s the difference between mint state coins, circulated coins, and uncirculated coins? 

It’s probably not difficult to tell the difference between circulated coins and uncirculated coins, as coins minted for circulation are meant to be handled and exchanged by the public as legal tender for any number of economic transactions. In other words, circulated coins are, or have been used as, everyday money.

According to the US Mint, uncirculated coins share some similarities to proof coins, as we will see, in that they are hand-loaded into the press and struck on special blanks, or planchets. Uncirculated coins are struck to have a matte finish, though still somewhat shiny. But they are not intended for circulation in the general economy as everyday money. 

The uncirculated coins produced by the United States Mint also come with a certificate of authenticity. These coins may be graded as mint state coins because they were not subject to the wear and tear of circulation. 

Ultimately, all of these kinds of coins are of interest to coin collectors and numismatists. The kind and level of interest varies depending on the unique features each individual seeks in a coin. Uncirculated coins and mint state coins are more aesthetically appealing due to the pristine condition, and it is often the case that the higher the grade of the coin, the higher the value. 

However, many collectors seek circulation coins that are rare because of errors made during the minting process. The scarcity of the coin creates the excitement of a kind of pocket-change treasure hunt.

What are Proof Coins?

The determination of a proof coin has more to do with its method of manufacture than its graded condition, although proof coins may still be graded from PF-60 to PF-70 on the Sheldon Scale. Proof coins are the highest quality coins produced by any mint, and typically meet the following criteria:

  • Made from highly polished planchets or blanks
  • Hand-loaded into the coin-striking machines
  • Struck at least twice, often up to five times, with a highly polished die to ensure a frosted-looking image, or “relief,” on a gleaming mirror background, or “field” (as opposed to the matte finish of mint state coins)

The US Mint produces proof coin sets that include an example of each denomination struck for circulation. These sets usually include one:

  • Native American $1 coin
  • Kennedy half dollar
  • Roosevelt dime
  • Jefferson nickel 
  • Lincoln penny
  • Proof versions of each year’s special program coin releases such as the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program 

Before 1933, these sets were given to members of Congress, presented as gifts to other VIPs, and put on display in various exhibits. Now, however, proof coin sets are available to all collectors.

The US Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, PAMP, Perth Mint, and most other popular mints and precious metal companies produce premium specialty proof coins struck from highly polished bullion planchets, most often precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. For example, Rosland Capital recently donated a gold proof coin featuring the Formula 1 driving legend, Michael Schumacher, to benefit the Caudwell Children charity.

1-kilogram gold proof coin featuring Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, encased in acrylic
1-kilogram gold proof coin featuring Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, encased in acrylic

These proof coins are produced for collectors who also wish to purchase a quantity of highly refined precious metal, such as a .999 (three nines) fineness for silver bullion, a .9999 (four nines) fineness for gold bullion, and .9995 (three nines five) fineness for platinum or palladium. These buyers seek the value of the physical metals from which the proof coins are minted, with the aesthetic appeal and collectibility an added bonus.

How to Buy Mint Coins and Proof Coins

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between mint coins and proof coins, you’re ready to continue your research. Only you can decide which coins are best for you. People buy different types of coins for different reasons, and it’s important for each person to do their research and determine which products they want. 

What should you look for when buying mint coins or proof coins? Any reputable precious metals and coin dealer such as Rosland Capital sells coins – numismatic, semi-numismatic, mint state, proof, or bullion – and can help you find coins graded by a respected third-party authority such as NGC or PCGS, or certified by an assayer at a well-known mint, with proper documentation and certification of authenticity.

Get more information from the precious metals experts at Rosland Capital.