South Africa 1892 5 shillings

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Ponterio sale 161, lot 20704
photo courtesy Stack's-Bowers LLC
This specimen was lot 20704 in Ponterio sale 161 (Chicago, August 2011), where it sold for $6,095. The catalog description[1] noted,

"SOUTH AFRICA. 5 Shillings, 1892. High Grade “Single Shaft” South Africa 5 Shillings. 'Single Shaft' wagon. There are two major varieties for the 1892 5 Shillings, “Single Shaft” and “Double Shaft”. Both were designed by Otto Schultz and tell a very interesting story. With presidential elections closely approaching, President Kruger desperately wanted to release new coinage into circulation as soon as possible; however, at this time the Pretoria mint was still under construction. Kruger not wanting to wait contracted with the Royal Prussian Mint in Berlin to produce the first series of coinage. This proved to be a mistake that nearly cost Kruger the election.

The German die engravers were unfamiliar with the style of wagon used in South Africa and engraved them in the style of a European wagon. Although the design was well executed, the wagon was depicted with two shafts and two equally sized wheels. This differed from the normal 'single shaft' wagon or 'Voortrekker wagon' used in South Africa which typically was depicted with a much larger wheel in the back. Although this seems like a very subtle difference, it nearly cost Kruger the presidency. Kruger’s political opponents immediately noticed the incorrect depiction of the 'Voortrekker wagon' on the national coat of arms and declared this “an insult”, insisting that the engraver Otto Schultz initials 'OS' represented the Dutch word for an Ox. Kruger took full ownership for this error and quickly had the appropriate design changes made. Lightly toned with very original surfaces. PCGS MS-63."

South Africa, after a turbulent history between English and Dutch settlers and the native population, was constituted the Union of South Africa in 1910. This coin was an issue of the Afrikaner republic before its conquest by the British. With the collapse of apartheid, collecting South African coins is now respectable again.

Recorded mintage: 14,000 single shaft plus 4,327 double shaft.

Specification: 28.27 g, .925 fine silver, .840 troy oz ASW.

Catalog reference: KM-8.1; KJ-147 (single shaft).


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000, 42nd ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2014.
  • Hern, Brian, John Bothma and Hercie Pieterse, Hern's Handbook on South African Coins & Patterns, Ferndale, South Africa, 2013.
  • [1]Ponterio, Rick, et al., Ponterio sale 161: The Chicago ANA Auction, Irvine, CA: Stack's-Bowers, LLC, 2011.

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