The Rand currency was introduced in the then Union of South Africa on 14 February 1961, shortly before the establishment of the Republic on 31 May 1961. It had a two-and-a-half-cent denomination, replacing the earlier threepence coin which had the same mass and dimensions. The new coins were 50% silver and retained the reverse design of the threepence created in 1925 by George Kruger Gray, featuring a Protea flower.
The 2 1/2 cents circulating denomination was short-lived though, and was discontinued after 1964 in favour of a new 2 cents coin.
In 1997, the South African Mint started issuing Non-Circulating Legal Tender (NCLT) 2 1/2 cents coins in a new series known - from the flower featuring on the coin - as the Protea coin series; the flower is now on the obverse, and the reverse designs celebrate various aspects of South African heritage and nature. The coins are usually issued in a "Crown and Tickey" set (tickey being the nickname of the coin), together with a Crown piece (one ounce silver), with new themes every year.
The composition is Sterling Silver - 92.% silver alloyed with 7.5% copper.