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South Africa’s Krugerrand gold coin.

Gold Krugerrand coin.Introduced in 1970, the Krugerrand was the world’s first gold bullion coin. It is denominated in ounces of pure gold rather than having a face value. Over the years, more than 54 million Krugerrands have been circulated worldwide.

Originally only one size was issued, known as a Krugerrand, or Kruger, for short. From 1980, three other sizes were introduced, namely a half, quarter, and tenth ounce size. Because of these, the original Krugerrand is sometimes referred to as a “full” or “one ounce” Kruger or Krugerrand, although within the trade, the word Kruger or Krugerrand is understood to be the full sized original one ounce version.

Since the Krugerrand is minted from gold alloy that is 91.67 percent pure (22 karats), the actual weight of a “one ounce” coin is 1.0909 troy ounces (33.93 g), to provide one troy ounce of pure gold. The remainder of the coin’s mass is made up of copper (2.826 grams), giving the Krugerrand a more orange appearance than silver-alloyed gold coins.

By making the coin legal tender, Krugerrands could be owned by citizens of the United States, which back in 1970 prohibited private ownership of bullion but allowed ownership of foreign coins.

Despite this, the policy of apartheid in South Africa made the Krugerrand an illegal import in many Western countries during the 1970s and 1980s, until the South African political reforms of the early to mid-1990s.

The Krugerrand was legal to import and own in the United States until 1984.

Krugerrands are easy to transport and store. Since the Krugerrand is so well recognized, buying and selling them internationally is exceptionally easy.

The Krugerrand received its first competition from the Canadian Maple Leaf, introduced in 1979. Eventually the Maple Leaf supplanted the Krugerrand as the world’s top seller, gaining a significant market share as a one-ounce pure gold coin (.9999 fineness).