Coins of the South African pound

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The coins of the South African pound were part of the physical form of South Africa's historical currency, the South African pound. Prior to the Union of 1910, various authorities issued their own pounds, some as independent entities. After the Union but before 1923, coins in circulation were mostly British, but the coins of Paul Kruger's South African Republic remained in circulation. In 1923, South Africa began to issue its own coins, adopting coins that were identical in size and value to those used in Great Britain: 12 pence (12d) = 1 shilling (1s), and 20s = 1 pound (£1). On 14 February 1961 South Africa adopted a decimal currency, replacing the pound with the Rand.

The term "tickey" was used as a nickname for the 3d coin.[1] It was also used for its replacement, the 2½c coin.[2]

The introduction of the pound[edit]

The Cape of Good Hope was a Dutch Colony administered by the Dutch East India Company between 1652 and 1795. In that year it was seized by British forces, returned to the Dutch under the Treaty of Amiens, seized again in 1806 and seceded to Britain under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. After the 1806 seizure, the military administrator issued a proclamation prohibiting the export of coinage and fixing the relationship of the various coins in the colony.[3] The relative values were:

Proclamation by his Excellency Major General Sir David Baird
Skillings Stuivers Sterling
A Guinea 44 264 £1.2.0
1 Doubloon, 16 Spanish Dollars 160 960 4.0.0
A Johanna, 8 Spanish Dollars 80 480 2.0.0
A Venetian Sequin 19 114 0.9.6
A Ducat 19 114 0.9.6
Gold Mohur, 15 Rupees 1.17.6
A Pagoda 16 96 0.8.0
A Spanish Dollar 10 60 0.5.0
A Rupee 5 60 0.5.0
English Shilling 2 12 0.1.0
Copper Coin 2 0.0.2

During the succeeding years, British coins were introduced, but paper rijksdaalders which were nominally worth four English shillings continued to circulate until 1 January 1826 when British currency became the sole legal tender in the Cape Colony[3] and paper rijksdaalders were redeemed at 1s 6½d each.[4]

Nineteenth-century trade tokens[edit]

S&Co Coins

The Strachan and Co (S&Co) trade tokens were issued in denominations of 3 pence and 6 pence and 1 shilling and 2 shillings. There were four sets issued over a period of about 50 years. They are South Africa's first widely circulating minted indigenous currency.

The territory was occupied by the British Empire and became a colony in 1874. The S&Co tokens were issued by a trading store, Strachan and Company, in East Griqualand, after January 1875.[5] However no evidence can be found that the Griquas recognised the S&Co as their official currency. Other less successful tokens were also in circulation. Interestingly, The Standard Bank of British South Africa[6] in Kokstad must have held money in trust in exchange for tokens, as after annexation by the British in 1878 it could not accept it as legal tender. It thus acted as an agent for S&Co, by whom the tokens would be exchanged for legal tender. The tokens were restricted to the Strachan Company. The tokens could not lawfully be dispensed by Standard Bank as the Bank Act of 1844 restricted the issue of new banknotes and currency only if they were 100% backed by gold.[7][better source needed]

The S&Co were actively used as currency by all the people of the region and were only withdrawn from circulation nearly 60 years later in 1932. There are four known issues. The first set of S&Co circulated widely around the region. The second set, the rare S&Co MH circulated from 1904.[8] They were used as the region's currency largely by the indigenous peoples while the two sets issued later (between c1910 and 1920) were marked "Ïn Goods" reflecting a change in purpose from general currency tokens to an exchange of goods at the S&Co stores. As imperial coinage became more readily available from the late 20th century these "Ïn Goods" sets were used to barter with the indigenous and Griqua people although the indigenous people continued to use them as their currency right up to 1932. The hole at top of later tokens, usefully, facilitating the bearer carrying the coin with his beads around his neck.


The South African(ZAR) or Transvaal Republic, the Boer state that in 1902 was to become the Transvaal Colony. The Transvaal issued coins bearing the bust of President Thomas François Burgers in 1874 and from 1892 to 1902 coins denominated as 1, 3 (or a tickey), and 6 pence; 1, 2, 2½, and 5 shillings; and ½ and 1 pond were issued bearing the likeness of President Paul Kruger.[9] The last of these coins were issued in 1900, except for siege 1-pond coins issued in 1902. After Pretoria was occupied by the British several pond coins were minted in Pelgrimsrus using a handmade press that have become known as a veldpond.[10]

Thomas François Burgers Era Coins[edit]

  • 1874 Pond (£1): 837 coins were minted with gold from the Lydenburg district, of which 142 were minted with a 'coarse beard' pattern on the obverse.[11]

Paul Kruger Era Coins[edit]

These coins were minted under the Presidency of Paul Kruger and bear his bust on the reverse and the coat of arms of the ZAR on the obverse.[9]

  • Penny (1D/pence): minted from 1892 until 1894 and then only 1898
  • Tickey (3D): minted from 1892 until 1897
  • Six Pence (6D): minted from 1892 until 1897
  • Shilling (1S): minted from 1892 until 1897
  • Two Shillings (2S):minted from 1892 until 1897
  • Half Crown (2.5S): minted from 1892 until 189
  • Crown (5S): minted solely in 1892 with both a single and a double shaft
  • Half Pond (£1/2): minted from 1892 until 1897
  • Pond (£1): minted from 1892 until 1902 (1899 not minted dies stolen by British troops overstrike with a 9 and also 99) 1902 replica illegally struck)
  • Blank Pond (£1): minted in 1900 with either a rim or without one
  • Veldpond (£1): only minted in 1902[12]

Coins of the Union of South Africa[edit]

From 1923 coins of the Union of South Africa were struck at the Royal Mint, Pretoria. In 1941 the Government of South Africa took over the mint. It was renamed the South African Mint, although it continued to produce coins based on the British coinage for some years thereafter.

King George V first coinage (1923–25/30)[edit]

The 2/- was struck under both the first and second coinages of King George V.

  • ¼d. Reverse inscribed '¼ Penny ¼': 1923, 1924.
  • ½d. Reverse inscribed '½ Penny ½': 1923–1926.
  • 1d. Reverse inscribed '1 Penny 1': 1923, 1924.
  • 3d. '3' in wreath: 1923–1925.
  • 6d. '6' in wreath: 1923, 1924.
  • 1/-. Reverse inscribed 'SHILLING': 1923, 1924.
  • 2/-. florin: 1923–1930.
  • 2/6. Reverse inscribed '2½ SHILLING': 1923–1925.
  • ½ sovereign, British type, but with 'SA' mintmark added: 1923SA, 1925SA, 1926SA.
  • 1 sovereign, British type, but with 'SA' mintmark added: 1923SA, 1925SA, 1926SA, 1927SA, 1928SA, 1929SA, 1930SA, 1931SA, 1932SA.

King George V second coinage (1925–30)[edit]

1929 Penny

The reverse of all coins for this era were designed by George Kruger Gray.

King George V third coinage (1931–36)[edit]

The previous designs by George Kruger Gray for the reverse of all coins was continued.

King George VI first coinage (1937–47)[edit]

The obverse features the uncrowned King George VI design by T. Humphrey Paget. The previous reverse designs by George Kruger Gray for all coins was continued.

King George VI second coinage (1948–50)[edit]

George VI depicted on a 1943 farthing of South Africa

The obverse continued the previous design by T. Humphrey Paget and the reverse the previous designs by George Kruger Gray.

King George VI third coinage (1951–52)[edit]

The obverse continued the previous design by T. Humphrey Paget and the reverse the previous designs by George Kruger Gray.

Queen Elizabeth II coinage (1953–60)[edit]

The obverse features the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Mary Gillick, while the reverse continued the previous designs by George Kruger Gray.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hear the Tickey Bottle Tinkle, The Rotarian, June 1954, page 51
  2. ^ "'Decimal Dan' Sings: Catchy Tune Teaches New Currency". The Spokesman-Review. 10 January 1961. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  3. ^ a b Rosenthal – From Barter to Barclays – Barclays Bank DCO: undated, c1967
  4. ^ Walker, A History of Southern Africa, Longmans: 1968
  5. ^ Tokens of the Transkei p44. Milner Snell
  6. ^ Banking and Currency Development in South Africa (1652-1927) E.H.D. Arndt p256
  7. ^ Bank Charter Act 1844
  8. ^ "Milner Snell's research on the Mountain Home Store". 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ Pilgrim's Rest, Mpumalanga
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]