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. The One Rand coin was initially a gold bullion coin equal to the earlier gold half pound, which was itself equal to a British half sovereign (minted, among others, at the Pretoria branch of the Royal Mint - now the South African Mint, until 1932).
Silver One Rand coins started to be issued for regular circulation in 1965 - including some 0.800 silver commemoratives. This was then changed to nickel in 1977, with silver only used for commemorative and collector issues. The commemorative coinage was continued by the sterling silver Protea One Rand series. These coins are made of Sterling Silver (92.5% silver alloyed with 7.5% copper) and are slightly smaller than a half ounce (0.4461 oz ASW, or Absolute Silver Weight).
The coins of the range celebrate various aspects of South Africa's history, culture and nature.
This coin was issued as part of the 2015 Protea - Life of a Legend (Early Years in Johannesburg) coin series, which continues a series of commemorative coins, "The life of a legend: Nelson Mandela". Introduced in 2013, a different chapter of Mr Mandela’s life is portrayed annually (his childhood in 2013, his education years in 2014 and his arrival and early years in Johannesburg in 2015).
The 2015 sterling-silver R1 Protea coin symbolises Nelson Mandela’s personal growth and transformation from an inexperienced youth who had run away from his privileged home with the royal family of the Thembu people to seek his fortune in the City of Gold to a young man who came to rely on his inner strength and abilities.
This theme is continued on the 2015 pure-gold R25 (1oz) Protea coin which shows a more mature and self-assured Nelson Mandela as a young man whose evolving views, beliefs and character would eventually lead him to the presidency of a democratic South Africa.
The background design of both coins features some of the names of the former President’s friends and mentors during these difficult years in Johannesburg. They supported him, gave him opportunities, offered guidance, introduced him to new ideas, and acquainted him with the various social and political sectors within Johannesburg society. One of these companions would become a lifelong friend and mentor, Walter Sisulu.
The 2015 pure-gold R5 (1/10oz) Protea coin features a quotation from the speech that Tata Madiba gave at Walter Sisulu’s 90th birthday celebration: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95 on 5 December 2013.