Project Description

2019+ AFRICAN BIG FIVE by the South African Mint

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.

2019 Big Five Lion

As a big cat, it goes without saying that the Lion isn’t something to be trifled with, especially in its natural habitat, so its inclusion in the Big Five was always a foregone conclusion. With males exceeding two metres in length (not including the tail) and weighing up to 225 kg, one of these would be a formidable adversary, but as they usually hunt in prides of several animals, the risk is multiplied.

This is a beautiful design, doubly so for a bullion coin. The portrait of the male lion is superb in both its anatomy and its aesthetic appeal. Likewise, the obverse mirrored face-on portrait works extremely well when placed alongside another coin. A fine way to start of this series.

2019 Big Five Elephant

An absolute powerhouse of strength, intelligent, and unlikely to forget a transgression, the Elephant easily earns its place in this elite group. The largest land animal alive today, reaching four metres in height and tipping the scales at up to 10,000 kg in extreme cases, they become extremely aggressive when they lose sight of their young, or are attacked,

The reverse design has the tricky task of fitting this behemoth on a small canvas, but does an admirable job. Like the Lion coin, it exhibits a terrific grasp of the animals anatomy and is an imposing view. The obverse is outstanding, with the distinctive look of the elephant lending itself well to the split, repeating view.