The 1898 Single 9 Pond is one of the rarest and most sought-after gold coins in South African numismatics. With only one known example in existence, this elusive coin has a fascinating history that spans over a century. In this blog post, we'll delve into the story of the 1898 Single 9 Pond, explore its historical context, and discuss the factors that make it such a desirable collectible.
The Historical Background
In the late 19th century, the South African Republic, also known as the Transvaal, was experiencing significant economic and political turmoil. The discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand Basin in 1886 had led to a gold rush and an influx of fortune seekers from all over the world, straining the resources and infrastructure of the fledgling nation. Additionally, tensions were escalating with the British Empire, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899.
Amidst this upheaval, the South African Republic faced a severe shortage of currency, particularly gold coins. The government needed to issue new gold coins to address the situation, but there was a problem: the dies required to mint the coins, which featured the portrait of President Paul Kruger, had not yet arrived from Germany. Desperate for a solution, the government decided to create a makeshift die by altering an existing 1897 die. The result was the creation of the now-famous 1898 Single 9 Pond.
The Coin's Unique Design
What sets the 1898 Single 9 Pond apart from other South African gold coins is its peculiar design. To create the makeshift die, the government took an 1897 die and defaced the last digit of the date, leaving only a faint outline of the number 7. They then engraved a large, single-digit 9 over the defaced digit, creating the unique "Single 9" appearance.
The resulting coin features President Paul Kruger's portrait on the obverse, with the inscription "ZUID AFRIKAANSCHE REPUBLIEK" encircling the design. The reverse showcases the coat of arms of the South African Republic, accompanied by the denomination "1 POND" and the date "1898," with the prominent Single 9. The coin is struck in .9167 fine gold and weighs approximately 8 grams.
The Rarity and Value of the Single 9 Pond
It is believed that only one 1898 Single 9 Pond was ever minted. The coin was deemed unsuitable for circulation due to its makeshift design and the fact that it did not conform to the standard weight and fineness of other gold coins in circulation. Consequently, the coin was not released to the public and remained in the possession of the South African government.
The Single 9 Pond remained hidden from the numismatic community for decades until it was rediscovered in the 1960s. Since then, the coin has been sold at various auctions, commanding impressive prices and drawing the attention of collectors and investors alike. In 2010, the coin was sold at a South African auction for a record-breaking ZAR20 million (approximately $1.4 million), making it the most valuable South African coin ever sold.