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What are Krugerrands?

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  • Written By: Victoria Blackburn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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Krugerrands are gold bullion coins minted in South Africa. Typically, a bullion coin is a coin struck from a precious metal, such as gold or silver, which is intended to be kept as an investment. Bullion coins can also act as a store of value, as they are not circulated in the way that ordinary money is. Rather, these types of assets, certain commodities and real estate, can be relied upon to retain a more consistent value compared to fluctuations experienced by different currencies.

The Krugerrand differs from most other bullion coins because when it was initially minted in 1967, it was meant to be used as currency. As a result, it was made up of a more durable-than-normal gold alloy that resisted wear. A Krugerrand has a gold fineness measuring 0.9167. Fineness measures the purity of precious metals as a unit of 1,000, with a measure of 1,000 meaning that a metal is 100% pure. In other words, a gold coin with a fineness measuring 0.9167 would be comprised of 91.67% pure gold.

A standard 1-ounce Krugerrand is 32.6 mm (1.3 inches) in diameter and 2.74 mm (0.11 inches) thick. Its actual weight is 1.0909 troy ounces (33.93 g). A troy ounce is about 10% heavier than the ounce that is used for everyday weighing in countries that use Imperial measurements. The coin is also minted in 1/2-ounce, 1/4 -ounce and 1/10-of-an-ounce versions, which first appeared in 1980.

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Besides being used as currency, Krugerrands were created to market South African gold. Both of these activities were greatly curtailed by the economic sanctions leveled by Western countries, and the United States in particular, against South Africa for its apartheid policies. Those sanctions were lifted when apartheid ended in 1994 and the Krugerrand was once again free to be traded.

The Krugerrand features both an eminent personage from the nation’s history and a wild animal that serves as a national symbol. Boer statesman Paul Kruger is not only the likeness found on the coin, but who the coin was named for. Kruger was a four-term president of the South African Republic of Transvaal during the 19th and early 20th centuries. He is affectionately referred to as “Uncle Paul” and was considered a symbol of the Boer resistance to the British during the Second Boer War.

The reverse side of the coin displays a springbok. This medium-sized brown and white gazelle has long been regarded as a national symbol of South Africa. The gold content of Krugerrands is also inscribed on this side of the coin in both English and Afrikaans.

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