The 1898 “Single 9” Pond is considered South Africa’s rarest form of coin. While greatly desired throughout South Africa, this rare gold coin is hardly known outside of the country.
Single 9 Ponds were first created during the Anglo-Boer War, a period during the latter 19th Century when the British and Afrikaans Dutch waged a bloody war against one another to seize control of the Boer republics, The Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic). Many speculate the driving force behind wanting control over the area and its people had to do with the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand region, though this theory was never proven.
While struggling to maintain the independence of the South African Republic, President Paul Kruger ordered the minting of new gold coins. Without access to new dies and the shipment ordered from Germany being intercepted, The Boer republics decided to proceed with their plan for new coinage by taking their preexisting dies from 1898 and punching a “9” on the obverse, signifying 1899. Sadly, when the first of 130 coins was struck, the Boer government officials noticed the “9” was too large for the chosen area to bear the number. Because the area was far too small, the “9” significantly protruded onto the lower portion of the bust of President Kruger.
Upon realizing the new design flaw, the Boer government decided to abandon their effort to mint coinage featuring their new design and redirect efforts towards the remaining 129 coins. The created second design that called for the remainder of the batch to be struck with two smaller 9’s, and the result was subsequently deemed “Double 99.”
What happened to the first coin with the single 9? It was set aside and became known as the “Single 9”. Eventually this coin was presented to the United States Consul General C.E. Macrum in a ceremony establishing the Boer Republic’s independence.
For over 50 years the whereabouts of this one-of-a-kind coin went unknown until it resurfaced in Egypt in 1954. Presented as an item in King Farouk’s coin collection, the “Palace Collections of Egypt,” the gold coin sold for 655 Egyptian pounds to a wealthy resident of Port Arthur, South Africa.
After returning to its place of origin, the Single 9 Pond changed hands of ownership another five times. In the final sale in 2010, a private buyer became the proud owner of this South African Dutch coin for R20 million.
Rare coins such as the Single 9 Pond, are significant, historical artifacts. Their existence is representative of social and political struggles, as well as a testament to a peoples will to survive and persevere through a period of oppression.
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