The Big Five Gold and Silver Medallions
South Africa is renowned for its wonderful variety of wildlife. Before the days of conservation, big game hunters flocked to the country in search of trophies to demonstrate their skills.
Local inhabitants warned the hunters of the most dangerous of these, the so-called Big Five: Elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, buffalo and, of course, lion. They would enthral the hunters with tales of ferocious lions and leopards, massive elephants, charging rhinos and the wicked horns of the buffalo.
Today the story is different. People still come to Africa to shoot these magnificent creatures, but now their weapons are cameras and tripods, and the Big Five are recognised as among the continent’s most precious assets.
To commemorate these most valued icons, the South African Mint Company has issued two magnificent sets of medallions in 24-carat gold or in sterling silver. The gold variations are limited to just 500 sets, while the silver collections are issued in a limited edition of 1,000.
So, what do you get in the two different sets? The medallions in both sets have been designed and engraved by either Vincent Chipa or Daisy Maloka and both come in a collector’s box. For the gold set, the box is made from native wood, either Kiaat (wild teak) or Imbuya (similar to walnut), with the lid engraved with images of the five medallions, together with the words “Africa’s Big Five” and “South African Mint Company”.
The silver set comes in a blue leatherette box. Each of the sets available comes with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity signed by the respective designer.
The gold medallion set consists of five medallions, each of them 27 millimetres in diameter and weighing 15.553 grams of 99.99% gold, or ½ ounce for those of us who work in imperial weights.
In the silver set, the medallions are made from sterling silver consisting of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Each medallion is again 27 millimetres in diameter, but weighs 8.406 grams, or ¼ ounce.
The Certificate of Authenticity that accompanies each of the sets contains confirmation of the medallion specifications, the year of issue and a description of the set. To ensure validity, the design of the certificates from the South African Mint Company is changed annually and includes the Mint’s logo, specially printed to only be visible under ultra-violet light.