The African Big Five are a popular subject on coins and foils. Considered the five most dangerous animals on the continent for hunting on foot, each of them stand out in their environment, even the herbivores. The Llion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant, and Cape Buffalo are all quite capable of killing humans and frequently do. The Cape Buffalo in particular, seems to have a mean streak a mile wide.
The Big Five bullion coin programme was meant to be a simple, but quite intense one. Starting with the Elephant we were originally led to believe they would launch the others on a monthly schedule, but it ended up taking over two years to get them all out, two dated 2019, two 2020, and the last for 2021. While sold as a bullion coin series, we’d say that was stretching the definition a little, and these are firmly in semi-numismatic territory. The mintage of 15,000 is fairly normal these days, but being packaged in heavily themed blistercards is not.
Whatever the semantics, these are gorgeous coins, especially for the bullion market. Each of the five carries a portrait on the reverse face, and all show perfect perspective and anatomy. The artist clearly knows their stuff. The obverse is quite unique, bearing a face-on portrait, but split in half and switched to the opposing edge of the coin. The idea is that when a pair of coins are sat side by side, the image repeats across multiple coins. The mint even released a twin-coin proof silver set to showcase it.
Again, beautifully designed.You can see each design below, in all three metals, and on page two, you can see the proof silver sets, and the rare and unique proof Krugerrand privy sets – the rarest of them all. The five issues are all now available, and worth every penny, in our view. In late 2021, the South African Mint debuted the first Series II coin and it’s clear the style of the first series is staying in place. However, the range has expanded with 1/4oz, 5oz and 1kg gold coins, and 5oz and 1kg silver. In addition, there’s a two-coin 1/4oz set like the 1oz silver one, and a silver version of the Krugerrand privy set joins the lineup, which is now very expansive. Series II can be seen on page 3.