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 quarter-ounce (1/4 oz) format. The coins are made of Sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper) and are slightly heavier than a quarter ounce, so as to have exactly 0.250 oz ASW (Absolute Silver Weight). They are denominated with a face value of 5 cents.
This coin featuring a Basket Star is part of the 2015 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 2015 collection celebrates the beauty and diversity of the MPA within the Agulhas bioregion by showcasing its most iconic species.
MPAs offer sanctuaries to entire ecosystems where smaller creatures are as fascinating as the more prominent members of these underwater communities. The exquisitely beautiful basket star (Astrocladus euryale) appears on the 5c (1/4oz) coin. Its 10 arms branch into ever-finer, delicate tendrils which it holds outstretched like a basket to catch passing animals. Its circular body is decorated with coarse knobs which, surrounded by black, create a striking colour contrast with the lighter body. These brittle stars, which are related to the better known starfish, can grow to 30-50 cm.