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.
This coin is part of the Crown and Tickey series of South African coins issued with different themes every year by the South African Mint to celebrate South Africa’s history and achievements.
The R2 Crown and Tickey were first introduced in 1997. Between 2012 and 2015, the theme was Trains of South Africa. In 2012, the first of the trains to be portrayed was the Gautrain, followed by the diesel electric locomotives in 2013 and the electric locomotives and trains in 2014. The steam-powered locomotives are featured on the 2015 coins.
The 2½c Tickey features the class 19D steam locomotive on the reverse. The versatile class 19D locomotive was used for branch and main lines, as well as for shunting work all over South Africa. Two hundred and thirty five engines were built for SAR, of which the first order from the company Krupp, Borsig and Skoda was delivered between 1937 and 1939. The class 19D locomotives were among the last of the steam locomotives to be replaced by electric and diesel-electric traction.