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WCNS Articles



This is the new home for all WCNS articles. All articles currently housed in the Blog section will be moved to this section. The Blog section will be discontinued once the migration is complete.

Coin hoards in South Africa are an infrequent occurrence; over the years, not many have been recorded. What is disturbing is that in those few instances where coins have been unearthed and buried together, very little is known about the hoard with the details vague. The coins themselves are seldom described. The article, which excludes shipwreck finds, discusses treasures found on South African dry land and includes the Kruger Millions, treasure found inside a crocodile and more. Link here

Coins are generally counterfeited for two reasons. Firstly, forgeries of higher-value coins in circulation were designed for general circulation at face value. This has been made by criminals since the dawn of coin production 2000 years ago. Secondly, copies of coins for the numismatic and tourist market. The first is usually of rare and highly valued coins. South African gold coin forgeries are well documented, but less is known about the various silver denominations, including the famous 1931 tickey (3d) of which numerous forgeries exist. This is a well-presented article that includes numerous pictures to help you avoid the counterfeit pitfalls when collecting these coins. Link here...

Some of the South African Numismatic “firsts” have already been discussed individually in previous articles on our WCNS website. This article now combines them in one paper, adds more information and explores the first circulating coins at the Cape of Good Hope, the first Honorary Medal, awarded by the VOC to Ysbrant Godske in 1677 for the Construction of the Castle at the Cape of Good Hope and establishes the de Mist Cartwheel Penny as the first Token coinage struck for South Africa amongst other numerous "firsts" leading to our modern issues. A literary historical treasure trove. Link here...

It is fairly widely known that the gold used to strike South Africa’s first gold coin, the so-called Burgerspond (1874) was sourced from alluvial gold mined at Pilgrim’s Rest in the Eastern Transvaal. A topic that's seldom discussed in numismatic literature is the source for the silver coinage of the ZAR that was struck from 1892 to 1897. A silver bar contains the inscription First Pure Silver produced on African Continent, Pretoria, dated 28 February 1893 and presumably from the Albert Silver Mine. This claim seems unlikely to us. Follow the link for more...

During the 1970s and 1980s it was very popular worldwide for private companies to strike collectable thematic medallion sets, usually in silver, and present them in beautifully crafted wooden cabinets or display albums.South Africa was no exception.


The article discusses some of these sets. Readers are encouraged to visit Professor Michael Laidlaw’s South African Commemorative Medals website from which much of the information in this article was sourced from. The pictures on his website are truly exceptional. In 2016, Prof. Laidlaw received the National Numismatic Society’s bronze medal for the work he has done on his website.

In Search of a Cape of Good Hope Medal

On his website South African Commemorative Medals, Professor Michael Laidlaw catalogues a silver medal with the legend reading "HUMANE SOCIETY, CAPE OF GOOD HOPE" with the date “1842”. It was made by W. Warrington, 27 Strand, London. He says “Nothing is known about this early Cape lifesaving society”. This prompted us to do some research on the medal.


Shipwreck Gold Coins from South Africa


Gold coins recovered from shipwrecks in South African waters were, in most cases, personal possessions carried by rich passengers and officers on the ships. However, a ship like the Birkenhead (1852) was rumoured to have had a military payroll of £240,000 in gold coins, weighing about three tons on board. The article explores some interesting coin finds along the South African coastline.

The Tickey – a legendary South African Coin

The word “tickey” was a slang name given to the lowest denomination coin issued in silver for use in South Africa in pre-decimal times during the 1800s and 1900s. The article takes a closer look at the legendary coin and the origin of the word.

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Boer War P.O.W. Money of the Cape Town Prisoner of War Camps

During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), two prisoner-of-war camps were established in Cape Town, the first at Simon's Town and the second at Green Point. Their financial affairs were put under the control of the Camp Commandant, who issued Good For notes for use in the POW camps. A captivating article and a must-read.

South African Advertising Token Sets of the 1960s & 1970s


This short article explores some of the South African advertising tokens issued as collectable sets. These tokens were designed to entice children, encouraging them to influence their parents to shop at or support the companies that issued them. Most were produced by oil companies and distributed at their garages during the 1960s and 1970s.

Very little has been written on these tokens in the past and information about them is truly scarce. This article uncovers more information on these items and publishes the first clear colour picture of the Lina de Lorme token. A controversial and fascinating subject.

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The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway which opened in 1929, is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions with approximately one million people a year using the Cableway. Four tokens and medallions were issued with little information available. We take a look.

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The ZAR Coinage of 1892

Part 1: Some anomalies regarding the issues

The ZAR-coinage mintage figures, supplied by generations of South African coin catalogues, are based on those published by J.T. Becklake, the last Deputy Master of the Royal Mint and the first Director of the South African Mint in Pretoria. However, some anomalies seem to exist in the reporting of these figures. The article explores new information regarding these figures. 

The ZAR Coinage of 1892

Part 2: The rare proof issues and the Glück auf Transvaal medal

The second part of the discussion around the 1892 ZAR coinage centres around the Gluck auf Transvaal medal and explores whether there is a connection between these medals and the proof issues of 1892. The author gives new comparisons regarding mintage figures and casts further light on the proof coin issues. The article also touches on the origin of the ZAR mint presses with some compelling facts.

For collectors of the coins of the South African King George V series, the year 1931 will always be an extremely difficult year to complete. To complete a set in non-proof condition would prove much more difficult and although it is theoretically possible, it is doubtful that any collector has ever succeeded in this goal, especially in certified (graded) condition. The jewels in the crown of King George V so to speak. 

The Sammy Marks Tickey (3 pence) is a legendary South African gold coin that commands very high prices when specimens are sometimes offered for sale. Since numismatists became aware of the coin many years ago, it was always shrouded by myths and legends – as one would expect from a world-famous coin. In this article, we find out more about the influential Sammy Marks.

After war broke out between England and France in 1781, the Cape virtually ran out of hard currency as an ally of the Netherlands supporting the French. This shortage led to the issuing of paper notes the following year to prevent a currency shortage crisis. The article discusses the origin of the Stiver and Rixdollar denominations and compares the design of the local notes to those issued in other parts of the Dutch territories.

This short paper takes a look at coinage that was issued before 1874 for exclusive usage in South Africa. These issues therefore predate our first coin that carries the name of South Africa, which is the Burgerspond.

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