South African Mandela Coins: Mint State, Prooflike and Proof

Posted on 4/16/2013

The South African 2000 Mandela Commemorative 5 Rand is an example of a coin with a designation change.

NGC always attempts to assign a coin the same designation that the issuing mint gave it. Many countries around the world now issue coins that cannot be identified as Mint State, Prooflike or Proof simply by their strike since the method of manufacturing is exactly the same and the designation is given indiscriminately by the mints when the coins are released. This often leads to confusion with consumers, dealers, and even NGC graders, especially when the mint that issued the coins decides to change the designation after they were released. This is the story of the South African 2000 Mandela Commemorative 5 Rand coins.

In 2000 the South African Mint issued a commemorative coin for Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and the man who helped unify the country after apartheid. In 2000 the coins were struck as both “circulation issue” (i.e. Mint State) and special collector Proof issues. NGC was not able to obtain an exact mintage figure for the Proof 2000 Mandela coins, but according to the mint records we were able to verify the following: over 5.2 million circulation issue Mandela coins were issued in 2000. In 2003 the South African Mint took the 2000-dated Mandela 5 Rand dies and put them back into production to strike over 1.024 million more Mandela coins that were released into circulation. An additional 40,000 Mandela coins were produced using the Proof dies on what the South African Mint termed a “continuous” minting press, instead of a “Proof” coin press. Of the 40,000 coins struck from Proof dies, 25,000 were issued in special sets and were called “Proof-like.” The coins were issued again in 2008 with the ones included in the Mandela 90th birthday two-coin set again issued as “Proof-like.”

When NGC first started to receive Mandela coins in submissions around 2004-2005 they were infrequent and there was a clear distinction between the Proof and circulation examples. As the price of original Proof Mandela coins quickly jumped, especially in high grades, NGC became flooded with submissions of what looked like impaired Proof Mandela coins. These coins were struck with Proof dies but often had contact marks, breaks in the cameo frosting, planchet issues, finger prints and other such issues that are seldom seen on Proof issues. Since the coins were struck with Proof dies and were trading as Proofs in the marketplace, NGC continued to call the coins Proof as their method of manufacture. The situation was further complicated by coins being sold in counterfeit mint packaging to unsuspecting collectors who believed they were getting something they were not. Shortly after this time NGC was notified by several collectors in South Africa that the Proof designation was incorrect; although these coins were struck with Proof dies, they were sold as circulation issues by the South African Mint. After further research and communication with the South African Mint, NGC changed the designation to the more accurate “Prooflike” or “PL” for these coins.

Prooflike 2000 Mandela 5 Rand. Note the breaks in the frost and numerous contact marks.
Click images to enlarge.
Proof 2000 Mandela 5 Rand. Note the thick mint frost.
Click images to enlarge.

NGC strives to always provide the most accurate and consistent grading to create the best service. While there are some incorrectly labeled South African coins in the marketplace, we have worked diligently to correct these now that additional information has been released by the South African Mint. Anyone with a mislabeled coin may send it back to NGC at anytime for correction at no charge. For any questions or comments, please feel free to contact NGC Customer Service at or 1-800-NGC-COIN.

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