South African rarity leads St. James' auction

Burgers Pond, one of finest known, brings $214,953
Published : 11/16/11
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A rare coin from the South African Republic, or Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek in Dutch, highlights the early coinage history of modern South Africa.

The 1874 gold Burgers pond, “one of the finest known examples of this first gold pond of the nation,” realized £138,000 (about $214,953 in U.S. funds) during St. James’s Auctions sale No. 19, which was held Oct. 3 in London.

The British and Dutch offered competing colonial claims to South Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries. Britain and the Dutch colonists fought the Anglo-Boer War over control of the region, with the British winning and forming the Union of South Africa.

Before that victory, beginning in 1892, the Orange Free State (later the Transvaal) began striking bronze, gold and silver coinage as the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek.

The Burgers pond coin was created when the first president of the ZAR, Thomas Burgers, decided to commission Ralph Heaton and Sons in Birmingham, England, to produce trials for ZAR coinage using native mined gold.

Though the Volksraad, the legislative body, rejected the plan for coins because the image of the president rankled some, shortly thereafter most of some 800 trials were sold at twice their face value as curious reminders of the failed plan.

After the end of the Boer War, the coins gained renewed interest, and have been prized ever since. The example offered in the Oct. 3 auction was graded Mint State 66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

The sale totaled £886,459 ($1,380,780 U.S.), including the 20 percent buyer’s fee.

Other key consignments in the sale included the Christian C. Jones Collection of Napoleonic and Romanian Coins and Medals, Part I, and the Mitchell-David Collection of world gold coins.

Prices reflect the 20 percent buyer’s fee, but do not include any value-added tax.

For more information about the auction, write to St. James’s Auctions at 43 Duke St., St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6DD, telephone the firm at (011) 020 7930 7597, visit its website at or email it at

Some additional highlights:

Australia, Adelaide Assay Office, 1852 gold pound, Friedberg 3 ( Gold Coins of the World by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg), About Extremely Fine, £22,800 ($35,514 U.S.).

France, circa 1799 to 1804 gold 40-franc coin, Napoleon, Paris, F-479, some contact marks, Very Fine, £504 ($785 U.S.).

France, after 1804 silver medal, Coronation of Napoleon by Johann Baptiste Merlen, 44 millimeters, choice Extremely Fine, £456 ($710 U.S.).

France, circa 1810 silver medal, the proxy marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise, by F. Stuckhart and A. Guillemard, EF, £552 ($860 U.S.).

France, Napoleon III, 1862 gold 100-franc essay, Numismatic Guaranty Corp. Proof 65 Cameo, £42,000 ($65,421 U.S.).

France, 1889-A Proof gold 5 francs, Third Republic, “only 100 minted,” NGC Proof 65 Cameo, £16,800 ($26,168 U.S.).

German East Africa, 1916-T gold 15-rupie coin, F-1, PCGS MS-63, £4,560 ($7,103 U.S.).

Iran, A.H. 1318 (1900) silver and gold medals, Muzaffar al-din Shah, by A. Patey, each 36 millimeters in diameter, struck in France during the shah’s visit to Europe, EF “with matt[e] finishes,” £48,000 ($74,766 U.S.).

Romania, 1858 silver medal, the restoration of the Metropolitan Church, EF, £696 ($1,084 U.S.).

South African Republic, 1892 Kruger silver 5-shilling coin, Krause-Mishler 8.2 ( Standard Catalog of World Coins 1801-1900 by Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler), NGC Proof 63, £18,600 ($28,972 U.S.).

South African Republic, 1892 Kruger penny, KM-2, PCGS Proof 64 brown, £26,400 ($41,121 U.S.).

Switzerland, 1771 gold 3-pistole coin, Geneva, KM-84, F-261, Mint State, £13,800 ($21,495 U.S.). ■

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