The South African Mint, a subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank, will roll out a series of three collectable coins and one circulation coin depicting the life of distinguished statesman and global icon Nelson Mandela, whose centenary is being commemorated this year.
A bimetallic R5 circulation coin is central to this range, enabling the South African public and coin collectors to celebrate the centenary year of his birth. The coin will go into circulation in July, the month in which Mandela was born.
South African Mint MD Tumi Tsehlo tell Engineering News that manufacturing of the R5 circulation coin will begin soon for its launch in June and final circulation in July. The three other collectable coins will be available at the end of this month.
The Nelson Mandela coin is the second installation under the theme ‘Celebrating South Africa’, through which the country aims to celebrate milestones and symbols of South Africa’s freedom, democracy and culture. The first installation under this theme was the 2017 OR Tambo Centenary range.
The R5 coin is the first latent image circulation coin to be issued in South Africa. The latent image features the years 1918 and 2018, and will display distinct images, depending on the viewing angle. These include the R5 denomination; the words ‘Nelson Mandela Centenary’; and the image of a smiling and mature Mandela against a background of rich patterning.
“It’s one of the most beautiful circu- lation coins that we have manufactured,” notes head of product development Richard Stone.
This image was specifically chosen to complement the last two R5 circulation coins issued in 2000 after Mandela’s Presidential term and in 2008 following his ninetieth birthday.
Tsehlo points out that the coin is “one of the most secure coins to go into the pockets of South Africans”.
“The year 2018 is an important year for South Africa as we celebrate a man who helped alter the destiny of our wonderful country. The new R5 Mandela centenary coin continues the fine tradition of immortalising the country’s stalwarts and keeps the history alive,” he adds.
“We produce three different types of coins at the mint – circulation coins; collectable coins that we manufacture in limited numbers, mostly out of precious metals; and bullion coins, like the Krugerrand, which we produce in high volumes for investment purposes,” Stone says.
As part of the Nelson Mandela centenary series, the mint will also produce a R50 denominated bronze- aluminium coin, which will retail for R127, of which R27, symbolising the 27 years he sacrificed behind bars for his role in opposing the apartheid system, will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Fund.
The other two collector coins are the sterling silver crown coin, depicting Nelson Mandela as a statesman, and the 1 oz, 24 ct gold coin, depicting him as an elderly global icon. All the coins can be bought separately or as a set, except the R5 commemorative circulation coin, which will be available to the public from July.
“For the full set of four coins, you can expect to pay around R32 000, comprising three coins, as well as a gold coin,” he notes.
“We commissioned Sindiso Nyoni, a seasoned portrait artist, whom we have collaborated with before, to design the OR Tambo as well as these Mandela centenary coins. Sindiso is an exceptional artist who has had international success in Europe and Mexico.”
Previously, the mint followed a fixed design process whereby a model was based on a sketch from a photograph. However, with the OR Tambo coin, the mint decided to take a new approach based on Nyoni’s style, which is an abstract interpretation.
“Even though there’s a high degree of abstraction, the images are still recognisable. It helped us to approach the design in a new way.
“The OR Tambo coins are faceted and, if you move it slightly, the picture changes. The coins are designed in base relief. We issued four coins in the first series: a collectable copper coin, a 1 oz sterling silver coin and a 1 oz, 24 ct gold coin.”
The mint used laser engraving technology to design the coins; the aluminium bronze coin was first introduced as a collectable coin with the Tambo centenary range in 2017.
“We don’t typically manufacture a coin in that medium; we usually use gold and silver for collector coins. Last year was the first time we made collectable base metal coins, starting with the OR Tambo coin. We are increasingly doing more new things. There has been significant innovation in the technology we use,” he says.
He explains that the mint decided to manufacture a collectable base metal coin so that it would be affordable and accessible to more people. “We want more people to be able to participate,” he says.
The mint, with almost 500 employees, has a production capacity of some two-billion coins, ranging from circulation coins to the highest quality possible for collector coins.
The South African mint today comprises three business units: Circulation Coins, Collectable Coins and Bullion (the Krugerrand), which is part-owned by Rand Refinery.
The mint produces circulation coins for export markets mainly in the Africa, South America and Asia. The Circulation Coins division manufactures the legal tender coins that are used by South Africans for everyday transactions, as well as coin blanks and circulation coins for the export market.
Over the years, the mint has developed expertise in producing electroplated base metal coins which are the most cost-effective means for central banks and issuing authorities to place coins into circulation.
A recent example of this is the development of a technically advanced bicolour electroplated coin for an African export client. Recently, the mind produced a highly secure alloy coin with the security-enhanced latent image and microlettering similar to the Mandela centenary coins for an African central bank.
The mint, which is a full-service facility, from raw materials to finished coins, continues to invest in new technologies, such as laser engraving, security-edge rimming and colour printing on coins.
Besides the production of circulation coins, it is also well known as the home of the world famous Krugerrand, the first bullion coin in the world, introduced in 1967.
The mint has been making coins for South Africa for over a century, and is ISO 9001- and 14001-certified. In 1988, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), established in accordance with the SARB Act (which authorises the SARB to “coin coins or cause coins to be coined”).
The South African Mint offers in-house custom consulting for circulation coins, with the customer’s regular participation from coin design to the final minted coin. Consulting services include a review of potential cost savings, clear differentiation of denominations, the design of exclusive products, the creation of master dies, full production of working dies, coin blank production, high-quality secure storage facilities with the South African Mint’s own dedicated security staff, as well as door-to-door delivery.
Besides the Nelson Mandela centenary circulation and collectable coins, the South African Mint is also introducing a new 2 oz Krugerrand denomination this year. The release of the gold proof Krugerrand is a significant event in the coin’s history spanning more than 50 years. Only two hundred 2 oz proof coins will be minted, and all will bear the same iconic design as the popular gold bullion and the rest of the Krugerrand range.
The Krugerrand is the world’s most widely held and actively traded gold bullion coin. “Over the past 50 years, it has been synonymous with trust and value and it is this consistency that will keep the brand relevant and top-of-the-mind over the next five decades,” says Tsehlo.
Other introductions in the collectables range this year include the computed- tomography-scan- (CT scan-) themed sterling silver crown and tickey coins, the palaeontology-themed 24 ct gold Natura coins and the return of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Man and Biosphere gold and silver coins.
“We are excited to reintroduce the Unesco Man and Biosphere range, which is hugely popular locally and internationally. The birds and flowers selected for the coins also come from the biospheres we celebrate in this range.
“Our 2018 range balances commerce with creativity and we are confident that South Africans and global coin enthusiasts will take a moment to appreciate our efforts,” he concludes.