JOHANNESBURG – Considered a year of new beginnings and renewals according to the Chinese horoscope, 2020, The Year of the Metal Rat, will see the South African Mint embrace the sentiment in its entirety as it renews its prized collectable coins and the iconic Krugerrand.
The South African Mint is a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank.
Every year, the South African Mint marks memorable events and anniversaries that capture the nation by striking these stories onto coins, and 2020’s product line-up is no different.
Expected to get the nation talking will be the new R2 circulation coin, a product of a competition which ran in 2019 following the highly visible and successful launch of the SA25 coin series commemorating “25 Years of SA’s Constitutional Democracy”.
The South African Mint invited members of the public to submit designs for the reverse of the new R2 coin, depicting a right from South Africa’s Bill of Rights. The winning design has been selected and will enter circulation during the course of 2020. The SA25 coin series in 2019 was a remarkable culmination of extensive public engagement with young South Africans born in a democratic dispensation whose inputs provided the foundation for the design framework.
Numismatists will be able to add another example of South African ingenuity to their collection with the launch of the sterling silver crown and tickey coins featuring the Retinal cryoprobe, a local invention that revolutionised cataract surgery. South African doctor, pioneering inventor and biomedical engineer, Selig Percy Amoils, is credited for the invention of the cryoprobe, which is a pen-like instrument that is inserted into a cut in the eye to remove a cataract with no risk of destroying healthy adjacent tissue. This technology has even been used on former President Nelson Mandela.
The ‘South African Inventions’ theme was introduced on the crown and tickey coin series in 2016, to highlight globally relevant inventions and firsts by South Africans. Last year’s coin featured the Pratley Putty, the world’s first epoxy adhesive invented by South African engineer George Pratley. It was used by NASA aboard its Ranger moon-landing craft some 50 years back.
The R2 crown features the anatomy of an eye on the reverse, while the tickey shows a gloved hand holding the retinal cryoprobe when the 2.5c tickey is placed on top of the crown in the designated area, the surgical procedure is recreated.
Introduced for the first time last year also at the 2019 World Money Fair, the Big 5 series will see the launch of two new Big 5 designs in 2020, featuring the Rhino and Leopard.
The “Big Five” term originated when big game hunters visited the shores of Africa to shoot for trophies, and locals warned them about the five most dangerous animals in Africa: the elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo. The Lion and the Elephant graced the preceding coins. The coins capture the majesticity of these wild animals in their natural environs, skilfully captured on silver, gold and platinum in one unique design.
Following the runaway success of the fine silver Natura coin in 2019, the 2020 series will repeat the coin exclusively in silver and feature the Coelophysis Rhodesiensis, a diminutive, bi-pedal carnivore which preyed on small animals and mammals which appeared around the same time.
The Coelophysids were highly successful primitive theropod dinosaurs that occurred worldwide between the late Triassic to early Jurassic period. Coelophysis Rhodesiensis occurred in South Africa and Zimbabwe during the early part of the Jurassic period (approximately 201–199 million years ago). Fossil records found in Zimbabwe allude to their propensity to hunt in packs.
The design of the Krugerrand has remained unchanged over its 50 years of existence. The obverse features the bust of President Paul Kruger, while the reverse, originally designed and engraved by Coert Steynberg, depicts a prancing springbok, a well-known South African symbol. The iconic Krugerrand in 2020 stars individually, as well as in the existing four and five fractional sets available. It is also available in 1oz and 2oz both gold and silver and in bullion and proof quality.
Featuring on the 2020 sterling-silver colour coin range are the flowers Protea repens (Sugarbush) and Serruria florida (Blushing Bride), and birds Coccopygia melanotis (Swee Waxbill) & Ploceus capensis (Cape Weaver). The quartet of coins which seek to celebrate SA’s rich flora fauna are the subject of this year’s series and are found in the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve.
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