South Africa pioneered modern bullion coinage when it first issued the Krugerrand on 3 July 1967 to help market South African gold; it is the first modern bullion coin and is still issued today.
Gradually, the South African Mint started diversifying the range, first by issuing fractional Krugerrands, then by introducing different designs and metals, such as a silver half-ounce (1/2 oz) format. The coins are made of Sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper) and are slightly heavier than half ounce, so as to have exactly 0.500 oz ASW (Absolute Silver Weight). They are denominated with a face value of 10 cents.
This coin featuring an African Penguin is part of the 2016 Marine Protected Areas coin series by the South African Mint, consisting of four sterling-silver bullion coins of different sizes, with composition of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
South Africa has an intricate network of marine protected areas (MPAs), designed to conserve the country’s offshore biodiversity. To this end, the South African Mint created the Marine Protected Areas collectable coin series in 2013.
The 2016 collection celebrates the beauty and diversity of the MPA within the South-Western Cape Bioregion (West Coast Bioregion) by showcasing its most iconic species.
The endangered African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is portrayed on the 10c (half-ounce) coin, sitting on its nest. Protected after centuries of persecution, mainly from guano scraping and egg collecting, it was hoped that their numbers would increase. But recent studies show a rapid population decline, probably as a result of commercial fisheries competing for sardines and anchovies which form the bulk of the penguins’ diet. It is thought that protecting the feeding grounds around the breeding colonies should sustain the penguins while minimising the impact on the fishing industry.
The 50c (2 oz) coin portrays the eight-tentacled master of camouflage: the common octopus. The iconic great white shark propels itself out of the water on the 20c (1 oz) coin, and the West Coast rock lobster is featured on the 5c (quarter-ounce) coin.