Krugerrand – the classic bullion coin

When undecided investors ask an expert which coinage they should invest in, they usually get the same answer: “Krugerrands”. And no wonder, because these remain the classics among precious metals. This investment gold coin with its springbok motif enjoys an international reputation and is accepted almost everywhere. Furthermore, it is also the oldest bullion coin in the world.

Image of a gold Krugerrand
A Krugerrand made of gold
© hanohiki -

When undecided investors ask an expert which coinage they should invest in, they usually get the same answer: “Krugerrands”. And no wonder, because these remain the classics among precious metals. This investment gold coin with its springbok motif enjoys an international reputation and is accepted almost everywhere. Furthermore, it is also the oldest bullion coin in the world.

The Krugerrand owes its popularity not least to its wide distribution – up to six million coins have been produced each year, and this coin has been available for more than five decades. Krugerrand gold coins are minted every year with identical motifs. On the obverse side, there is an image of the South African politician Paul Kruger captured as a portrait relief, together with a bilingual caption confirming the issuing country. It was designed in 1892 by the German sculptor Otto Schulz. The reverse depicts a springbok antelope, the national symbol of South Africa, based on a design by the sculptor and medallist Coert Steynberg. Above, the name «KRUGERRAND» is emblazoned across the sky, and in addition, the mint date, weight and fineness are also stamped on the coin. This investment gold is available in denominations of 1/10 oz, ¼ oz, ½ oz and one ounce.

However, investors will look in vain to find any face value on this gold coin. Despite its lacking any face value, the Krugerrand is still considered legal tender. Similar to most other coins in circulation, the current price of gold is used to determine its value in the event of a sale. This means the value of this bullion issue is always very closely linked to the spot price determined for one troy ounce of gold (31.103 grams) on the financial markets, which is expressed in US dollars.

In addition to its motifs, the Krugerrand gold coin has another unique feature: its reddish shimmer. This is caused by the presence of a special gold alloy which consists of 916.67 parts of gold and 83.33 parts of copper. As a result, the surface is significantly less sensitive to scratches and other physical damage than comparable coins with a higher fineness.

The success story behind the Krugerrand gold coin

The history of the gold Krugerrand began in 1967 with the first minting of 40,000 pieces at the Rand Refinery in South Africa. Today, this same mint in western Johannesburg is known as the South African Mint. Until 1979, only one-ounce coins were produced. Initially, the circulation fluctuated from year to year according to political events, economic crises and the freezing of gold prices. In 1986, a boycott against apartheid in South Africa by the USA and the European Economic Community (precursor to the EU) stopped the coin’s progress. As a result, the one-ounce coinage failed several times. This import ban was not finally lifted until 1999.

The background to the sanctions was the enforcement of racial segregation by the white population. In earlier years, Paul Kruger (1825-1904), President of the South African Republic, had laid the foundations for such a policy during his presidential reign. Among the predominantly black majority, he was thus considered an oppressor. To this day, many would prefer the portrait of their liberator Nelson Mandela to appear on this gold coin.

The Krugerrand was not able to repeat the great success of the 1980s, when millions of coins were sold. However, the global financial crisis of 2007 triggered another run on the Krugerrand. During the years that followed, with an ever-increasing circulation of between 300,000 and 800,000 coins, the Krugerrand gold coin established itself as a valued precious metal holding in times of crisis. Today, it has become one of the most popular investment products in the world.

How was the ‘Krugerrand’ name acquired?

This bullion coin is named after Paul Kruger, great-grandson of Jacob Krüger from Berlin, who himself came to South Africa in 1714 as a mercenary for the Dutch East India Company. Over the generations, the German spelling Krüger was integrated into the local language and the German Ü was replaced by a standard U. Thus, the coin is official minted as the Krugerrand, while its name is still pronounced and written with an umlaut throughout the German-speaking world.

Image from Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger, namesake of the Kruger Rand
© Morphart -

The Rand is the currency of the Republic of South Africa, where a South African Rand (ZAR) is divided into 100 cents. Although the Krugerrand coin has no face value, it can still be used as a currency in the issuing country. Due to the coin’s close alignment with the gold price, owners receive the actual value of the metal.

Number of Krugerrand gold coins produced

The heyday of the Krugerrand occurred between 1974 and 1985. And during this period alone, almost 40 million one-ounce coins were minted. This was followed by the previously mentioned slump which resulted in circulation figures which amounted to no more than four to five digits per year. It was not until 2007 that rising demand caused the minted quantities to increase again, pushing circulation back up to six figures.

Between 1967 and 2013, a total of 49,021,470 Krugerrand gold coins were issued in uncirculated quality, each one weighing one troy ounce. In addition, from 1980 to 2013, a further 11,496,619 gold pieces were issued in ½ oz, ¼ oz and 1/10 oz units. Since 2014, the South African Mint (SAM) no longer publishes coin mintage details and only publishes the total number of ounces produced per metal for any given year. The information below also includes other coin models.

Specifications for the bullion-grade Krugerrand gold coin:

Krugerrand gold 1 oz 1/2 oz 1/4 oz 1/10 oz
32.80 mm
27.00 mm
22.00 mm
16.50 mm
2.84 mm
2.20 mm
1.89 mm
1.35 mm
33.9305 g
16.9653 g
8.4826 g
3.3931 g
Circulation *

* Total circulation between 1967 and 2013

Since 1967, a collector’s version of the gold Krugerrand has also been struck in a premium proof quality. Available in identical denominations, this issue is in addition to standard bullion editions. Up to 2020, these limited-edition mintings have produced an overall total of 845,000 coins. To commemorate special occasions, such as the 50th anniversary minting in 2017, the SAM also issues special coins in other sizes or with privy marks.

The Krugerrand’s ranking in the world market

The gold Krugerrand is one of the best-known and best-selling investment coins in the world, which, according to experts, should be part of any capital-accumulation portfolio. Several mintages can also be found in many numismatic collections and have proved to be very popular. Krugerrand coins are accepted by all precious metal dealers, banks and other institutions around the world, regardless of their year of issue. Since no face value is stamped on a Krugerrand, they have a special status on the gold market, because the value of the coin and its metal are so closely linked to the current price of gold.

The Krugerrand gold coin is considered a crisis-proof investment that has already proven itself several times over. For example, during the oil-price crisis from 1974 to 1984, the bank failures of 2007 to 2013, and during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021.

Krugerrands in other precious metals

Since 2017, the South African Mint has also issued the proven Krügerrand design in silver and platinum in order to meet the great demand for white precious metals. The bullion-grade silver Krugerrand is available at a fineness of 999/1000 per ounce, which is inscribed alongside its denomination (R1) close to the rim of the coin. In 2017, the 50th anniversary of the original minting, a silver coin was issued as a limited edition of 630,000 coins. From 2018 onwards, the silver Krugerrand has been continuously produced as an unlimited edition. Two proof versions are also available: a one-ounce coin (20,000 per year) and a two-ounce coin (10,000 per year).

Image of silver and gold Krugerrands
Krugerrand in silver and gold
© Matt Light -

A platinum Krugerrand coin has so far only been struck in 2017 with a small mintage of 2,017 pieces. It has a fineness of 999.9/1000 and was offered at a proof standard. It is only available as a one-ounce coin with a face value of 10 Rand (R10). No palladium version has yet been released.

The most important points about the Krugerrand bullion coin