The Single 9 Coin
South African coins enjoy special status among coin collectors the world over. Besides their value as collectibles, both antique South African coins and modern collector coins are increasingly perceived as profitable investments that fetch high returns. The Holy Grail of rare South African coins is, of course, the ‘Single 9 Pond’, a.k.a. ‘The King of World Coins’.
What’s special about the Single 9? It is quite literally, one of a kind, in other words, there is only one such coin in existence. As with anything so rare, that gives it a mystical allure.
The Single 9, with a value of one pound, was minted during the 1899 Anglo-Boer War between the British Empire and South Africa.
The Boer rulers of the South African Republic figured that the best way to legitimize their country as a sovereign republic in the international community was to mint their own currency. For this purpose, the Boers sourced dies from a German mint.
The shipment never reached the Transvaal, as the British intercepted and captured it en route from Germany. Undaunted, the Boer government decided to punch the number 9 on the obverse, or heads, side of coins minted from 1898 dies. After minting one coin, realization dawned that the 9 was too large, infringing on the bust of President Paul Kruger. Nevertheless, the coin was officially handed over to C. E. Macrum, the United States Consul General, ratifying the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) as an independent nation having its own currency – and therefore rendering the British claim on its territory unlawful. Subsequent coins were punched with two smaller nines. The double 99 coin series also carry considerable value today. But the Single 9 Pond remains unique.
Since then, the Single 9 has travelled widely. In 1954, it surfaced in the coin collection of King Farouk of Egypt, part of an auction titled ‘Palace Collections of Egypt’. The King, who had previously acquired the Single 9 in Paris, sold it through Baldwin’s of London to Dr. Froelich of Port Elizabeth, South Africa for 655 Egyptian pounds. The coin changed hands within South Africa in 1969 and 1983.
By now, its value had risen to R 132,000. In 1999, a century after the Anglo-Boer war, Walter Fivaz, a dealer, sold the Single 9 on behalf of Jan Kraay for a cool R 4.65 million. The last known sale was in 2001, when an unknown buyer picked up the coin for, hold your breath, R 9.8 million (US$ 1,304,000).
The Single 9’s meteoric progression in value also drives up the worth of other rare South African coins. The coin has now entered the realm of legend, up there with the Kohinoor, the Taj Mahal and the Peacock Throne!