COLLECTABLE ME­TAL ART

The South African Mint com­mem­o­rates

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The South African Mint com­mem­o­rates Nel­son Man­dela’s cen­te­nary.

Imag­ine a hobby that en­hances your ap­pre­ci­a­tion of top­ics as di­verse as lo­cal heroes, leg­ends, in­ven­tions, na­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment. One in whose pur­suance you never stop learn­ing. The South African Mint, a sub­sidiary of the South African Re­serve Bank, prides it­self as one of the fore­most cham­pi­ons of South African her­itage and sto­ry­telling that cov­ers all these top­ics. The Mint is proud of its di­verse port­fo­lio of com­mem­o­ra­tive and collectable coins, and its col­lab­o­ra­tions with lo­cal artists to bring these themes to life.

The South African Mint pro­duces le­gal ten­der cir­cu­la­tion coins, in­vest­ment coins (the world­fa­mous Kruger­rand), and also pro­duces a range of lim­ited edi­tion collectable coins in pre­mium pre­cious met­als as well as more af­ford­able me­tal al­loys.

This year, the Mint is pay­ing trib­ute to Nel­son Man­dela’s legacy with a range of new coins. 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Nel­son Man­dela, and to com­mem­o­rate this mile­stone, the Mint has in­tro­duced the per­fect gift: beau­ti­fully de­signed collectable coins in bronze, sil­ver, gold and a R5 cir­cu­la­tion coin.

Led by Richard Stone, the prod­uct development team at the Mint is in con­stant pur­suit of coin pro­grammes that show­case South Africa’s rich cul­ture and her­itage and serve as odes to those who shaped the des­tiny and di­rec­tion of the coun­try. The team is re­spon­si­ble for see­ing each coin through the rig­or­ous theme con­cep­tion, coin de­sign and ul­ti­mately, Cab­i­net ap­proval pro­cesses.

In the world of collectable coins, de­sign, or ‘looks’, sells. The South African Mint’s splen­didly de­signed coins boast themes such as South African In­ven­tions which de­pict the world’s first suc­cess­ful hu­man-to-hu­man heart trans­plant and the CAT Scan, among some of the in­no­va­tions it cel­e­brates (in ster­ling-sil­ver). The full-colour sil­ver, laser printed coins fea­tur­ing the birds and flow­ers of our var­i­ous bio­sphere re­serves are highly pop­u­lar among new coin col­lec­tors and a def­i­nite show-stop­per.

‘Our prod­ucts are con­ver­sa­tion starters. When you hold one of our coins, you can­not help but share the story,’ Stone says. The themes which in­spire the coins’ de­signs al­low for cross-dis­ci­plinary col­lab­o­ra­tions with dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and artists. The coins are works of art that are in­creas­ingly po­si­tioned as gift op­tions for a grow­ing con­sumer base of old and new col­lec­tors.

The Cel­e­brat­ing South Africa se­ries, which was in­tro­duced by the Mint in 2017 to com­mem­o­rate South

Africa’s var­i­ous sym­bols of free­dom, democ­racy and cul­ture, was one such op­por­tu­nity that al­lowed for a col­lab­o­ra­tion with a lo­cal de­signer. Con­tem­po­rary il­lus­tra­tor and mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary graphic artist, Sindiso Ny­oni (aka R!OT), de­signed the por­traits of Nel­son Man­dela, fea­tured on the 2018 Man­dela Cen­te­nary coins, as well as the por­traits of OR Tambo, fea­tured on the 2017 OR Tambo Cen­te­nary coins.

Ny­oni’s art was first com­mis­sioned for the Mint in 2015, when three sil­ver medal­lions were pro­duced to cel­e­brate 100 years of the Jo­han­nes­burg Art Gallery (JAG).

The full 2018 Man­dela Cen­te­nary coin range is com­prised of a 1 oz (24ct) gold R500 coin, a 1 oz ster­lingsil­ver R50 coin, and a bronze al­loy R50 coin, which are all avail­able for pur­chase at the South African Mint in Cen­tu­rion, El­e­gance Jew­ellers in Mel­rose Arch as well as var­i­ous week­end pop-up shops in malls across the coun­try (visit www.samint.co.za for more in­for­ma­tion). To mark this sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­sary and ex­tend the com­mem­o­ra­tion of Man­dela’s cen­te­nary to the gen­eral pub­lic, a R5 cir­cu­la­tion coin will also be avail­able in July.

The bronze al­loy coin is priced at R127 and tells its own tale. Pric­ing the coin was a con­scious trib­ute to Nel­son Man­dela’s legacy and our way of pay­ing it for­ward. To cel­e­brate 100 years since the birth of Man­dela, and in re­mem­brance of the 27 long and lonely years he spent in prison, the en­try level bronze al­loy coin is priced at R127. With ev­ery coin pur­chased, R27 (VAT-free) will be do­nated to the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion.

The por­trait de­signs of Man­dela on the Cen­te­nary coins use a graphic il­lus­tra­tion style pre­vi­ously used on the por­traits of OR Tambo with the 2017 OR Tambo Cen­te­nary coins. These and other pop­u­lar coins that have been pro­duced by Stone’s team are beau­ti­ful col­lec­tors’ pieces that in­spire pride in South Africa.

Ny­oni’s artistry brings out Man­dela’s youth and his states­man-like dis­po­si­tion with ef­fort­less skill ap­plied with so much sin­cer­ity, it gives the de­signs a life-like ap­pear­ance.

‘It has been a rare hon­our for me to be in­vited to cel­e­brate our heroes. Im­mers­ing my­self in the life and times of Man­dela pro­vided me with clar­ity of thought and sparked the in­spi­ra­tion and ex­cite­ment that stayed with me through­out this col­lab­o­ra­tion,’ says Ny­oni.

Over the years, mint­ing tech­nol­ogy has evolved from us­ing a ham­mer and anvil to the most cur­rent tech­nol­ogy where hy­draulic presses are used to strike the coins. While the av­er­age South African is only con­cerned if the vend­ing ma­chine will ac­cept the coin or not, coin col­lec­tors and nu­mis­ma­tists are very in­ter­ested in the mint­ing process.

‘As part of the col­lab­o­ra­tive cre­ative process, our own de­sign team, which in­cludes me, Lil­ian Guerra, our se­nior de­sign artist and the die-development team, then trans­late draw­ings we re­ceive as part of our coin pro­grams into a base re­lief model. The team likes to present a fresh take, to keep things rel­e­vant and give it cur­rency so it ap­peals to new col­lec­tors and old,’ Stone adds.

Coin col­lec­tors are in the game for pride and ac­com­plish­ment more than a re­turn on in­vest­ment. So de­signs must not only meet their ex­pec­ta­tions as far as crafts­man­ship and qual­ity are con­cerned but also stand up to dura­bil­ity and be rel­e­vant to the times.

‘Whether your in­ter­ests are the­matic, or piqued more by the me­tal­lurgy or de­nom­i­na­tional re­la­tion­ships of cer­tain coin se­ries, our of­fer­ing ap­peals to any col­lec­tor’s tastes. We also make coins in bronze, sil­ver and cir­cu­la­tion coins in proof qual­ity so you re­ally don’t have to be wealthy to start a coin col­lec­tion,’ con­cludes Stone.

‘We view our coins as global am­bas­sadors of South Africa and its her­itage. In cre­at­ing our coins, we tell sto­ries about our coun­try, our people and our legacy – these sto­ries are al­ways uniquely South African, yet they res­onate uni­ver­sally around the world.’

Top: bronze and sil­ver collectable coins Bot­tom: 24ct gold collectable coin and R5 cir­cu­la­tion coin

R50 col­lectible bronze al­loy coin (R127)

R50 col­lectible sil­ver coin (R695)

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