Gold of Africa

This is a small collection; only “emergency” gold coins minted in the South African Republic (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek; ZAR) and the German Colony of East Africa. A normal 1898 South African Pond is included in the collection to provide a point of reference for the South African coins. The collection is not stored at the owner’s residence.

South African Republic (ZAR)

Background

The South African Republic minted gold Ponds (Pounds) almost identical to British sovereigns both in fineness (22 caret; 91.6%) and dimensions (22 mm in diameter and 1.52 mm thick). The obverse depicted a bust of President Kruger and the reverse a circular shield of arms over flags surmounted by an eagle. The uncirculated 1898 Pond shown below provides a good point of departure to examine the two South African emergency coins.

1898 1898 ZAR Pond (Hern Z51, KM10.2), MS 61 (NGC)

The Kraal Pond

The Kraal Pond was simply a planchet (blank) for a Pond that was put into distribution before being struck in order to meet emergency needs after the British occupied Pretoria in 1900 during the Second Anglo-Boer War. None of them were dated. Two variants exist: one that had been “rimmed” in preparation for striking, known as a “Machadodorp Blank”; and one that was distributed unaltered without rims, known as a “Lydenburg Blank.” The total number of Kraal Ponds distributed is unknown.

1900M1900 Kraal Pond,  “Machadodorp Blank” (Hern Z56, KM10)

1900L

1900 Kraal Pond, “Lydenburg Blank” (Hern Z55, KM10)

The Veld Pond

In 1902, near the end of the Second Anglo-Boer War, the Republic government leadership again lacked sufficient minted coins to meet payroll and purchasing needs, so they set up a field mint at Pilgrim’s Rest, east of Pretoria, and minted a small number of Veld Ponds. The Veld Pond has the same dimensions as the Pond and the Kraal Pond, but some sources state it was “approximately pure,” achieving a fineness somewhat greater than the 22 carat purity of normal Ponds. However, assuming they were struck from blanks the government brought with it when it fled Pretoria, I don’t see why this would be the case. The total number of Veld Ponds struck is uncertain, but most accounts indicate no more than 986.

1902
1902 Veld Pond (Hern Z54; KM11), VG 10 (NGC)

German East Africa

The Tabora Pound

Also referred to as the Tabora Sovereign, the gold 15 Rupien coin has a diameter of 22 mm and weighs 7.168 grams at 18 carat fineness (75%). The coins were struck in 1916 at the Tabora Railway Workshops in modern-day Tanzania. Two variations exist with a slight difference on the reverse: on one the arabesque swirl extending from the eagle’s right wing ends below the “A” in the word “AFRIKA”; on the other it ends below the “T” in the word “OST.” The coin in this collection is of the latter variety. The total number of Tabora Pounds struck was about 16,200.


1916T1916-T 15 Rupien, KM16.1, AU 55 (NGC)

Notes

What makes this collection at once manageable and interesting are its limitations: only gold coins minted under emergency conditions. (With the exception of the baseline 1898 Pond provided for comparison.) Due to the rarity of the coins involved, the collection is more difficult to assemble than it would seem at first glance. I recommend a couple of fascinating books to read about the circumstances in which they were created, both by Byron Farwell:

The Great Anglo-Boer War. Norton, 1990.
The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918. Norton, 1989.