Another Perspective on Krugerrands, from Sandton
Serious gold coin collectors and investors worldwide (and those who have called in at our office premises in Sandton) are familiar with this country’s highly valued Krugerrands, the most eagerly sought and widely distributed bullion tender globally, ever since its introduction during 1967.
Our Krugerrand, and gold and silver bar trading operation is based in Sandton, since this busy suburb of Johannesburg is at the very heart of South Africa’s economic centre. It is home to numerous corporate headquarters, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, a multitude of office parks, retail malls and an affluent residential population.
Steeped in History
Not too long ago, this premier suburb consisted of smallholdings and homes set on sprawling, large leafy properties, very popular with people who chose to live in a country environment and close enough to commute to Johannesburg’s CBD workplaces daily.
Traffic and parking congestion, combined with urban decay in the city centre, caused various businesses to relocate to newly established office parks built in this area, where large tracts of land were available for development. Sandton was born.
However, long before this – in 1886 – gold was discovered in the reef that was to become known as the Witwatersrand. As in the case of all sizeable discoveries of mineral wealth in rest the world, hopeful prospectors from near and far flocked to the region with a dream of finding their fortune.
Tin shacks and tents soon dotted the dusty landscape and as always, when sufficient people gather in one area, a town will eventually be established, and so it was in this part of the then ZAR (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek).
Since 1852, the ZAR was an independent Boer republic, roughly encompassing the subsequent Transvaal Province. Until the gold rush, the region’s relatively sparse population consisted mainly of indigenous tribes and Boer farmers, the Voortrekkers who settled here after trekking upcountry, escaping British rule and domination in the Cape.
Empire and Ambitions
Foreigners on the Witwatersrand were denied the right to vote for their first 14 years of residence, but political matters did not really bother them, since minds were mainly on striking it rich underground. Once Britain recognised the immense wealth of the reef, they annexed the ZAR in 1900, on the pretext of gaining the franchise for their local citizens.
In truth, they sought control of the goldfields, in order to fund British imperial and subsequent colonial dominance and ambitions throughout the world.
Since 1883, Paul Kruger had been the president of the ZAR. Instead of being overjoyed when gold was discovered, he realised that enormous upheaval and change was inevitable. After the failed Jameson Raid, organised to overthrow the ZAR government, Boer commandos launched a strike against British forces, beginning the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902).
Oom Paul, as he was fondly called, was of the opinion that it was highly unlikely that there would have been a war, had gold not been discovered. It most certainly changed the political and economic climate of the time, issues recognised by him, as well as this country’s history and future.
Amongst imperialists, Paul Kruger was often portrayed as a rather dour, simple farmer, but he was a committed statesman and man of the church. His God and country were all important to him; he lived his life accordingly until his death on 14 July, 1904 in Clarens, Switzerland, far away from his beloved country and people.
- Even though he was unsophisticated by European standards and had only received some 3 months of formal schooling from a travelling schoolmaster during his youth, Oom Paul was an astute statesman, humbly considering himself as one of the people, nothing more.
- He amputated his own thumb after an accident with a hunting rifle, which exploded in his hand.
- A lover of nature and fearless hunter, he was concerned about the dwindling animal population and was instrumental in the establishment of the first official game reserve, later named after him, as were the Krugerrands, very much later.
- Oom Paul had a mischievous sense of humour, being known amongst his hunting companions as a prankster.
- At his request, his statue in Church Square, Pretoria, has a hollow in the top of the hat to collect rainwater, so that visiting birds may quench their thirst.
When you see us in Sandton to acquire Krugerrands, you are making a solid financial investment and virtually buying a bit of history – and Oom Paul too. So, sooner is better than later and there is no time like the present!