13 January 2016
The Griqua Town 200 R5 coin, released by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on 12 January, celebrates the 200th anniversary of the creation of the first coinage in South Africa.
As the first town to be established north of the Orange River, Griekwastad, or Griquatown as it is sometimes known in English, is one of the country’s most important foundation towns. It was a stopover on the trade route and so was important for commerce throughout the history of the country. The town, 168 kilometres north of Kimberley, is also known for its abundance of semi-precious stones.
The Griqua currency became the first South African currency in 1815, according to the Reserve Bank. It also became the country’s first decimal coinage and the world’s first Christian Missionary coinage.
The town is considered an important missionary town, and was the home of Scottish minister Robert Moffat, who wrote the first Sesotho translation of the bible.
The R5 coin features an image of the original 1815 Griquatown coin, engraved with the words “Coinage of Griqua Town 200. 1815 – 2015”. The other side of the coin bears the South African coat of arms and the acronym, SARB.
— South African Gov (@GovernmentZA) January 12, 2016
The Griqua Town R5 coin is the fourth commemorative R5 issued by the Reserve Bank since the first bi-metallic R5 was introduced in 2004. Other notable commemorative coins include the 2008 Nelson Mandela 90th birthday coin and the 20th anniversary of democracy coin, issued in 2014.
The coin, with its bronze-coloured centre and a silver-coloured border, includes security features such as the serrated and grooved edges and micro-lettering. These features are still part of the Griqua coin.
The Griqua coin will be part of normal circulation and will be considered legal tender, alongside other R5 coins already in circulation throughout the country. According to the Reserve Bank, the coin has a face value of R5; it encourages the public to recirculate the coins.
For coin collectors, the South African Mint, a subsidiary of the SARB, has issued special Griqua Town Coin Sets which include R5 non-circulation coins. The sets include R2 silver crowns, R2 gold coins and R5 regular circulation coins. These sets are available at the Mint in Centurion, Gauteng.