Whether you are interested in the history of the coin, the Krugerrand or investing in a couple of collectables, the South African Mint Museum is surprisingly interesting, and its recent revamp definitely does its coin collections justice.
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Deciding to revamp a museum is a big decision. Keeping a facility that focuses on the past relevant and interesting to younger generations that are tech savvy, is challenging. Tumi Tsehlo, MD of the South African Mint, says: “…The decision to modernise was to pique their interest whilst not losing the essence of visiting a museum. The new spatial layout, design and energy running through the new space will greatly enhance the overall experience of a visit for both parents and children.”
Following the history of the mint through the museum is fascinating. At the entrance stands a large metal coil, representing the start of a tour through the newly revamped South African Mint Museum. The museum is clutter free with clean lines and natural colours, with a simplicity that suits its purpose.
The historical part of the museum is home to Oom Paul, the original minting press that was named after the then President Paul Kruger, leader of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek. This press – one of the oldest presses in the world and originally steam operated – was built in 1891, ordered by Paul Kruger to use in the first mint that was established in Pretoria in 1892. It has been modified over the years to work off electricity, has minted over 8 million coins (including the legendary Kruger millions) and can still be seen in action at the museum. The very first Krugerrand was also pressed by Oom Paul.
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The museum’s exhibits include collections of coins belonging to different historical eras – some minted over the century by the Mint in its different avatars. These include the Naked Pound (known as the Kaalpond in Afrikaans) and the Veldpond, which were both pressed during the Second Anglo-Boer War. During this time, the Boers experienced a shortage of gold coins and could not buy food and provisions for their troops. Evidently, they used gold “blanks” that were removed from the ZAR Mint, which became known as kaalponde. After these had run out in 1902, the government gave permission for gold pounds to be minted. An improvised mint was set up in Pilgrim’s Rest and the facilities were very basic, situated in the abandoned workshops of the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate. The mint was called Staatsmunt te Velde (State Mint in the Field) and here the Veldpond, which many consider the holy grail of South African coins, was minted.
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The South African Mint Museum has a lot of information on these coins, but also the more recent coins including how they are made, the art of coin design and the security secrets behind circulation coins. They also offer a vast collection of world-famous collectable coins.
Visiting this museum should definitely be on your bucket list for this year!
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