South African Mint, a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), has reopened the doors to its Coin Museum after a four-month period of extensive renovations.

Situated in Centurion, just outside Pretoria, the museum recreates SA history from the perspective of coins, having two distinct themes: circulation coins and collectables. This unique take on South African history gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of circulation coins from their earliest times until the present day, while at the same time taking visitors on the journey from metallurgy to money.

The museum now features a new entrance display – a large metal coil, rolled sheets from which blanks are actually produced for the circulation coins. It also features historical artefacts that tell the story of the beginnings of African currency and coins – from Katanga crosses and beads, spear points and Spanish silver reales, to copper doits, silver ducatoons, Japanese koban, Russian roubles and various other coins accepted as legal tender.

The museum also houses ancient coins dating back to the 1200s and 1600s, which were discovered along the coast of the Eastern Cape – a rare find, with no recorded history of coin usage in SA up until the 1650s.

Tumi Tsehlo, Managing Director of South African Mint, says: “The museum is a wonderful educational opportunity and I would like to encourage everyone – from parents and children to institutions and tourists – to explore the museum’s collection to learn about our fascinating tryst with money, one that started with bartering. The exhibits can’t be seen anywhere in the country but at the coin museum. The interior is more than likely to pique the interests of children, slow them down so that they can learn about the many fun facts of coins, something even Google might not be able to answer.” 

Another interesting display in the museum is the ‘Oom Paul’ (Uncle Paul) Minting Press – one of the oldest presses in the world, which was named after then-president, Paul Kruger. Built in 1891, the press was used in the first mint established in Pretoria in 1892. It was originally steam-operated, but with modifications over the years was able to work off electricity. Visitors can still see it in action today.

SA Mint is one of the world’s top exporting mints, with a map in the museum that showcases the countries that the Mint either supplied in the past, or is currently supplying. It also features the design pieces commissioned for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Krugerrand.

Visitors can purchase coins on-site, ranging from centenary coins launched to commemorate the anniversaries of struggle veterans OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela, as well as the world-famous Krugerrand, which are also on display.