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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.

The National Debt and Gold Prices: How Are They Related?

Currently, the US national debt is over $28 trillion. In September 2020, the U.S. national debt is neared a staggering $27 trillion. Earlier in the year, around the time that the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact the United States, the national debt spiked by $1.54 trillion in just six weeks.

Around 12 percent of the total national debt is owned by the Federal Reserve, who, as discussed in an earlier blog post, has been purchasing treasury bonds at an elevated rate in order to keep interest rates lower and to diminish the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the American people.

As the national debt has continued to climb over the years, the market price of gold has also gradually increased. The correlation between the two is simple: as our federal government borrows more money and pushes the country into greater debt, the value of our currency decreases. As the U.S. dollar becomes more unstable, consumers look to protect their financial standings with assets like gold and other precious metals, as their inherent value tends to remain relatively steady over the long term.

Many experts believe that the direct nature of the relationship between these two economic players dates back to 1971, when President Richard Nixon called for the removal of the “gold standard” that linked the value of gold to the value of the U.S. dollar. Instead of basing the dollar’s worth on a tangible source of value, like precious metals, the new fiat system operated on trust in the currency and created a debt ceiling for the government to function beneath (a ceiling which has since been broken several times, as seen in the above graph).

So, while the value of U.S. currency no longer consistently moves in tandem with the national debt, the movement of gold prices continues to generally follow the same upward trajectory as the country’s debt levels.

Our fiat system has already been seriously impacted by the economic fallout from the pandemic. When operating within an unstable economy, fiat currencies tend to face debasement and become more unstable themselves. As the United States’ financial standing has become more volatile in recent months, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve have continued to take action in response to the volatility that, although temporarily stimulating the economy, has dramatically increased our national debt and further debased the value of the dollar. On the other hand, though, gold has been experiencing a historic rally throughout much of this year.

While it is likely that the national debt will continue to climb rapidly to new heights, and while the fiscal devastation the pandemic has wrought is undeniably terrible for the American public, it is worth noting that consumers still have access to gold as a potential safe haven in order to help protect their assets as they seek to maintain their own financial well-being in the long run.