The history of ZARs correlates directly with the history of South Africa
At the time, the idea of political leaders minting coins for the country frightened the population, who viewed this type of ideology as dictatorship. Nevertheless, coins began to be minted and slowly but surely, the country began to accept this forward-thinking and more coins started to be created.
Among the ZARs are five coins known as “The Big 5” ZARs:
1874 - The Pond – Fine beard
1874 - The Pond – Coarse Beard
1898 – Sammy Marks Tickey
1899 - The Double 9 Overstamp
1902 - Veldpond
1874 The Burgerspond (Big 5)
The history of ZARs coins dates all the way back to 1874, with the first coin — the Burgerspond — being the first indigenous coins produced for the Republic of South Africa, under the presidential run of Thomas François Burgers.
The first two coins of the “Big 5” ZAR coins include “The Pond: The Course Beard” and “The Pond: The Fine Beard” which were slight design shifts that were first noticed by A.J. Ellis, a Numismatist of Johannesburg in 1944.
1892 Double Shaft Pond and Single Shaft Pond
In 1891, Paul Kruger was up for the presidential elections. He had an idea to win the election - he introduced coins that had his image on them which he thought would make people perceive him as a serious candidate for the presidency. When he set out to do this, he had no idea that this would nearly cost him his election, as the coins came back from the Imperial German (Kaizer) Mint in Berlin with two errors that deeply offended the boers.
Error 1) the designer Otto Schultz, placed his initials “OS” on the coin, which in Afrikaans translates to “Ox”.
Error 2) the wrong depiction of the Voortrekker wagon. The actual wagon has a single hitching shaft at the front, with larger rear wheels. However, Schultz depicted a double shaft and equally sized wheels. This did not please the boers.
The corrected ponde were struck without any changes from 1893 – 1900. Known as “1892 single shaft” Kruger pond. The single shaft pond, which is the correct version, is more sought after and therefore more valuable than the double shaft. Hardly any of these original coins exist today, having been lost or damaged over time.
In 1892, the first half pond was minted. Both the single shaft and double shaft were also coined in the 1892 Half Pond, however the number produced is unrecorded. But where the single-shaft variety is rare in the 1892 Pond, in the case of the Half Pond it is unique. It has been recorded that a total of 10 double-shaft half ponds have been graded.
Also unknown is the quantity of half-pond coins struck in 1893, while only 28 have been graded. These coins are extremely rare and very expensive. The owners of these sets, like with all numismatic rarities, have been in the fortunate position to set their own prices when they have wished to sell.
1898 A Sammy Marks Tickey (Big 5)
In 1898 the “Sammy Marks Tickey” became the third coin in the “Big 5” ZAR collection. This coin bears a famous story. Marks was amongst other things, a mining magnate. It is believed that he had the extraordinary privilege of using the state mint for a day. During this day, Marks decided to strike 215 gold tickets (which were usually silver) for his friends and families, including President Paul Kruger.
This extremely rare coin bears the same design as the tickey of 1892 -1897, but it is dated 1898 and is struck only in 22 carat (92%) gold.Many contemporary jewellers at the time created replicas of this coin, however there is a lack of stops in the Z.A.R. monogram which sets them apart from the originals.
The Single 9 (one-of-a-kind)
During the Anglo-Boer War, the government of the South African Republic sought legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. One of the best ways to do this was to manufacture their own coins and currency. However, they had no facility to produce dies, so they had the dies made with a mint in Germany. En route from Germany to the Transvaal, the shipment of dies was seized by the British.
This forced the government to think of an alternative way to create the coin. They used dies from 1898 and punched a “9” at the bottom of the coin. However, the “9” proved to be too big as it overlapped with the design of the bust of President Kruger. This was the only coin to be made this way, truly one-of-a-kind. This coin is known as the “King of South African Coins” and is among the most valuable rare coins in the world.
All coins to follow were stamped with a pair of smaller 9’s to mark the year 1899.
Double 99 Overstamp (Big 5)
The double 99 coins were produced after the mistake of The Single 9. Only 130 were struck, with the 99 placement slightly varying on each coin.
1900 Blank Pond – Kaal Ponde
These coins were yet another creation of the Second Anglo-Boer War. They were used as money due to the lack of regular coinage at the time. Shortly after the beginning of the war in 1899, British Imperial troops under Lord Roberts invaded the Transvaal and occupied Pretoria. The State Attorney collected all of the minted coins and un-minted blanks and took them by rail to President Kruger at Middleburg.
As there was a shortage of coins which occurred at the beginning of the war, coins known as “blanks”, which had previously been removed from the ZAR mint, were placed into circulation. These blanks were coins at very early stages of coin manufacture. Prior to any coins being minted, blanks are produced, prepared and then stamped. Many of these blanks had a raised rim and others had no rim at all. The next process for the coins with rims would have been their stamping by the mint dies, creating a complete coin.
Some of these blanks had scraper marks of a circular type on their surfaces. These were made by employees of the mint. On finding that a blank was the incorrect weight they scraped gold from the surface until the weight was correct. There were occasions when this was done on both sides of the blank. These blanks are rare and therefore have turned out to be exceedingly valuable collectable coins in today's times.
1902 Veldpond (Big 5)
The Veldpond were struck by boers on the run from the overwhelming British forces during the second Anglo-Boer in October 1899 and June 1900.
When Lord Roberts of Britain was about to enter and occupy Pretoria, the Boer government left, taking with them any precious metals at the Pretoria Mint. Amongst the metals were a number of pond blanks that were ready for striking.
Money was urgently needed by the boers to buy provisions, particularly maize and wheat, from the black tribes. However, the paper money that the government had brought into circulation was unacceptable to these tribes and almost an entire supply of paper money had been lost in battle with the British. And thus, the Veldpond coin was struck during the final year of the second boer war with a makeshift mint. Only 106 have been graded of these 24 carat, hand-made unique coins.
Since ZARs are so rich in South African history, it is rare to find a seller who willingly wants to part with their collection of ZARs coins.