South Africa: Republic gold Proof Pond 1892,...
The first year of the ZAR coinage was minted on contract by the Royal Prussian Mint at Berlin, and this proof bears the engraver's initials, "O.S." (for Otto Schultz), on President Kruger's shoulder, in relief. Schultz had a long list of engraving triumphs to his name by the time he was entrusted with the task of preparing the dies for the Transvaal coinage, including a number of splendid royal medals. In fact, his specialty was medals, and his skill at producing lifelike, deeply engraved portraiture in metal is readily seen in his rendering of the bust of President Paul Kruger (1825-1904, President of the Republic from 9 May 1883 until 10 September 1900) on each of the dies he created for the commencement of the new coinage in 1892 -- the bronze penny, the silver pieces from 3 pence to 5 shillings, and the pair of gold issues. Numismatists who wish to study closely all of these coins will discover their special crispness of detail, and sharpness of rims, compared to what is seen on the issued dates that followed, those of 1893 onward. On the rare proofs of 1892, however, Otto Schultz's skills are most masterfully presented. We can only speculate on why so few proofs of the first year's coinage were struck, but the purposes must surely have been to keep a few examples of the coins for the engraver or his employer, and for a mere handful of politicians associated with the coins' creation. The "double shaft" feature of these coins, seen with perfect clarity on this gold proof, did however cause a well-known objection from the coins' contractors when first examined: never having seen a veldt wagon, Schultz erred by making the wheels the same size but more egregiously by placing two shafts at its front, whereas the authentic wagon was a Dutch voortrekker or disselboom having a single pole, not a van-wagon with two. It is also recorded that Kruger himself ordered the engraver to remove his initials from all further coinage, and was angry at their appearance, which nearly cost him re-election: evidently Schultz was unaware that, in Afrikaans, his initials formed the word for Ox. The alternations occurred in 1892 and may be seen on all subsequent coinage of this period. This marvelous proof Pond is therefore not only an especially well-preserved golden treasure but also the finest possible rendering of the artist's original conception for the coinage. One of the most important of all classic South African coins -- and truly a magnificent rarity!
From The Orange River Collection Krause catalog price(s) for this item: $400 in VF, $700 in EF, $1500 in UNC.
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