World Coins: Orange Free State Coinage
Posted by Jay Turner, NGC Grader on 4/16/2012
NGC recently had the honor to certify two of the major rarities in South African numismatics. These pattern coins of the Orange Free State came at a turbulent time during South African colonial history. The grant of independence from British colonial rule had only just occurred, allowing the Orange River to achieve sovereignty and become the Orange Free State.
Soon after independence, the Royal Prussian Mint made patterns for Orange Free State coinage as well as other independent South African states, including the Cape of Good Hope and the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. These patterns were made in the hopes of enticing the Orange Free State to order their own coinage from the Prussian Mint, which was a lucrative business for the mint.
While the pattern pieces were never adopted, they featured the legend “Oranje Vryjstaat” (Orange Free State in Afrikaans) above the Orange Free State Coat of Arms. A scroll with the words “Geduld En Moed” (Patience and Courage) appears below the date 1887. The reverse includes the denomination (1 Kroon) and “Essay.” The pieces said “Essay” so that they would be considered patterns and not circulate. The coins were struck in silver, lead and bronze.
Some of the silver 1887 Kroon coins were counterstamped by the British East India Company over the word Essay, legitimizing the issue. The stamp includes “I.B.E.A.Co” over scales and the date 1888. These pieces were stamped for use as circulating currency in the British areas of South Africa and very few exist today.
The Orange Free State Kroon pattern coins are considered extremely scarce, and certification of an authentic piece does not happen very often. NGC was privileged to certify the (believed unique) bronze example of the Orange Free State 1887 Kroon as well as an issued, counterstamped silver Kroon. These superb coins will now be protected so that they can continue to tell the turbulent story of South Africa’s colonial past.