British and World Coins (21 June 2011)

Date of Auction: 21st June 2011

Sold for £70,000

Estimate: £15,000 - £20,000

South Africa, Thomas Burgers, Pond, 1874, fine beard (Hern B1; KM. 1.2; F 1a). Practically as struck, extremely rare £15,000-20,000


Provenance: S. Gordon Collection.

Slabbed in NGC holder, graded MS 65. Thomas François Burgers (1834-81) succeeded to the presidency in 1871 and soon rid the Republic of its worthless paper money, declaring British sterling as the legal tender. Visiting the goldfields of the Eastern Transvaal in early 1874 he purchased a quantity of alluvial gold, which he despatched to J.J. Pratt, the Republic’s Consul-General in London, along with sketches of his portrait and the country’s coat of arms, with a request that the gold be turned into staatsponden with the same intrinsic value as the British sovereign. Burgers had wanted the coins to be in the country by May, when the Volksraad was next convened, but the gold only reached London in the middle of that month, and then had to be melted down and refined. Matrices and dies were made by L.C. Wyon and coining entrusted to Ralph Heaton in Birmingham. A total of 695 pieces were received by Pratt on 25 July before the obverse die broke. A new die, on which the President’s beard was rendered in a more coarse style, was ordered and 142 coins were struck from it. When the coins reached South Africa Burgers triumphantly presented 50 pieces to the Volksraad, but was immediately accused of having the coins struck at the expense of the government and, even worse, allowing his image to appear on them. Parliament later relented and members were paid for the first day’s session with one Burgers pond each; members of the public could buy them for £2 each. Designs were prepared for a series of other denominations, but the Volksraad voted against any further coin issues