The South African One Cent coin (abbreviated as 1c) was the second smallest circulating coin of the Rand currency, which was introduced in the then Union of South Africa on 14 February 1961, shortly before the establishment of the Republic on 31 May 1961. The one cent approximately replaced the earlier penny coin, which was the most popular denomination of the South African Pound.
This first type of One Cent coins was made of brass and is part of the First Decimal Coinage of South Africa; it was only issued between 1961 and 1964. A smaller bronze type replaced it in 1965, then an even smaller copper-plated steel version was issued until 2001, after which time the denomination was discontinued.
The obverse of the coin features the portrait of Johan Anthoniszoon van Riebeeck, known as Jan van Riebeeck (1619-1677), Dutch colonial administrator and founder of Cape Town and considered by many people to be the founding father of the South African nation. The designer's initials WM (for Willie Myburg) are incuse on the shoulder truncation.
Around left, the motto UNITY IS STRENGTH in English; separated from that by two decorative rosettes, around right the same in Afrikaans: EENDRAG MAAK MAG.
||UNITY IS STRENGTH * EENDRAG MAAK MAG *
The reverse shows at its centre a covered wagon as used by the Voortrekkers (Boer pioneers) as they performed their Great Trek in 1836. On the ground below right, in small letters the initials of the reverse designer HM (for Hilda Mason).
Around left, the name of the country in English: SOUTH AFRICA; around right, the name in Afrikaans: SUID-AFRIKA. Above that, the date · [year] ·.
Below, flanked by two rosettes, the value and denomination * 1 c. * (one cent).
||SOUTH AFRICA · [year] · SUID-AFRIKA * 1 c. *
The likeness on the obverse of the coin is based on a portrait painted by Dirck Craey which is now in the possession of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum; it is now thought that the painting was actually of another Dutchman named Bartholomeus Vermuyden, and not of Jan van Riebeeck.