Author Topic: Coinage of the Union of South Africa  (Read 721 times)

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Offline <k>

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Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« on: July 15, 2017, 03:39:03 PM »
The Union of South Africa was the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of four previously separate British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal Colony, Transvaal Colony and Orange River Colony. It included the territories that were formerly part of the Boer republics, which the British annexed in 1902: South African Republic and Orange Free State.

Prior to the Union of 1910, various authorities issued their own pounds, some as independent entities. After the Union but before 1923, coins in circulation were mostly British, but the coins of Paul Kruger's South African Republic remained in circulation. In 1923 South Africa began to issue its own coins, adopting coins that were identical in size and value to those used in Great Britain. They were struck at the Royal Mint, Pretoria.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 04:25:38 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 03:47:52 PM »
The obverse of the Union of South Africa's first coins featured a portrait of King George V, because the country was a Dominion of the British Empire. This meant that it was semi-independent and largely self-governing. By this stage in the British Empire, a policy had developed whereby all British coins carried an uncrowned portrait of the monarch, whilst the coins of the colonies, dependencies and Dominions were obliged to use a crowned portrait. Originally this feature was entirely utilitarian, in that it allowed any British coins in circulation in the Empire to be easily recognised, should they need to be withdrawn. However, it eventually came to be seen as symbolic of a numismatic hierarchy with the British Empire. The Dominions felt that they too should be allowed to use an uncrowned effigy, since they were on a par with Britain, and this would distinguish their coinage from that of the colonies. However, King George V, for whatever reason, did not favour such a policy, therefore South Africa was obliged to use the crowned effigy.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2017, 03:57:51 PM »
The Afrikaners were mostly a devoutly Christian people, and the two sparrows were chosen as the design for the reverse of the quarter penny.

Matthew 10: 29-31. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So be not afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In the UK, the word "farthing" was used on the quarter penny, but not in South Africa. All the reverse designs of the coinage were the work of Englishman, George Kruger-Gray, an employee of the Royal Mint.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2017, 04:02:17 PM »


The reverse of the half penny depicts a ship, which is probably a generic frigate (a light warship).

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 04:06:04 PM »


Disappointingly, the penny featured the same design of a ship. Jan Smuts, the Prime Minister of South Africa, had originally asked for a separate design for the halfpenny, but in the end he accepted that this would have delayed the project. One of the possible designs for the halfpenny that had briefly been considered by the Royal Mint was “an ostrich in flight, with a kopje in the background”. In flight?  :D  Yes, but the officials checked with the experts and realised that this was impossible. I found that information in the National Archives, London.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 04:13:17 PM »
From 1923 to 1925, the three pence featured a wreath on the reverse. This was an old-fashioned design, favoured by many countries in the nineteenth century, so it is a surprise to see it used as part of a more modern set of designs.

Does anybody know which the species of the leaves and berries that are featured on the reverse?

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 04:16:19 PM »
The six pence of 1923 and 1924 featured a very similar reverse design to that of the three pence.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 04:25:00 PM »
The reverse of the shilling shows Hope, one of the three graces, leaning on an anchor. Presumably that is the Pole Star in the sky.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 04:45:41 PM »
From 1923 to 1930, the florin showed the word "FLORIN" in the legend. It was of course the equivalent of two shillings. The reverse design featured the shield of the coat of arms.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2017, 04:54:02 PM »
The two and a half shillings, otherwise known as a half crown, featured a crowned shield of the coat of arms on the reverse.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2017, 04:59:24 PM »
This is a good time to show the coat of arms of the Union of South Africa. This version was used from 1932 onwards. I cannot find any decent images of the earlier versions, which were very similar.

From Wikipedia:

The shield was a combination of symbols representing the four provinces (formerly colonies) that made up the Union.

The first quarter is the figure of Hope, representing the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope.

The two wildebeests of the second quarter represent the Colony of Natal.

The orange tree in the third quarter was used as the symbol of the Orange Free State Republic.

The wagon in the fourth quarter represented the Transvaal.

The supporters - a springbok and a gemsbok (oryx) are taken from the arms of the Orange River Colony and the Cape Colony.

The lion holds four rods, bound together, symbolising the unification of the four former colonies.

The motto, Ex Unitate Vires was officially translated as "Union is Strength" until 1961, and thereafter as "Unity is Strength".
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 08:11:01 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2017, 06:41:05 PM »
From Wikipedia:

Before 1928 the only flag that had official status in the Union of South Africa was the United Kingdom's Union Jack, as South Africa was part of the British Empire. The South Africa Red Ensign was used as an unofficial flag. In 1925, discussion rose about creating a new flag for South Africa as many descendants of Boers found the Union Jack unacceptable after the Boer War. In 1926 the Balfour Declaration granted South Africa legislative autonomy, opening the possibility of a new flag. British settlers wanted the Union Jack in the new flag as part of the British Empire while the Afrikaners did not. A compromise was reached whereby the new flag would consist of the Prince's Flag, as this was the first flag raised on South Africa, and the flags of the UK, Orange Free State and South African Republic arranged in the centre of the national flag.

The Prince's Flag is a Dutch flag, first used in the Dutch Revolt during the late 16th century. It is based on the Flag of Prince William of Orange-Nassau, hence the name. The colours are orange, white and blue, which is why the flag is often called oranje-blanje-bleu in Dutch, and orange-weiß-blau in German.

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2017, 06:43:16 PM »

Farthing.



In the 1920s, there were some minor changes to the way the denomination was represented on the reverse of the coins. From 1926 to 1931, the denomination on the farthing was changed to simply "¼ PENNY", instead of "¼ PENNY ¼".

Offline <k>

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2017, 06:46:42 PM »
From 1931 onwards, the denomination was given simply as "¼D". Note that the legend "¼ PENNY" also occurs on some farthings of 1931.

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Re: Coinage of the Union of South Africa
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2017, 06:49:40 PM »


Half penny.



South Africa's halfpenny of 1923 to 1926 showed the denomination as "½ PENNY ½".

From 1928 to 1931, the denomination changed to simply "½ PENNY".