Updated: Jan 7, 2021
The year 1931 represents a monumental one in the world of South African numismatics. Containing the coveted 1931 threepence (or fondly referred to as a tickey), each coin in the date series is rare in its own right either in business strike or proof (or both).
Various reasons have been put forth in an attempt to explain why the 1931 coins were minted in such small quantities from a shortage of silver experienced in this particular year to the economic fallout created by the Great Depression to a drop in demand for coinage. Whatever the reason may be, mintages were greatly reduced as is evidenced by the official mintage figures quoted by Hern:
Farthing (1/4 Penny) Zuid Variety - 154 233 (Business Strike)
Farthing (1/4 Penny) Suid Variety - 62 (Proof Only)
1/2 Penny Zuid Variety - 145 343 (Business Strike)
1/2 Penny Suid Variety - 62 (Proof Only)
Penny Zuid Variety - 248 430 (including 62 proofs)
3 Pence - 128 (including 62 proofs)
6 Pence - 4 805 (including 62 proofs)
Shilling - 6 603 (including 62 proofs)
2 Shillings (Florin) - 445 (including 62 proofs)
2-1/2 Shillings - 852 (including 62 proofs)
Only 62 proof coin sets were ever issued by the Mint, combined with excellent strike and proof finish these coins have become highly desirable. Obverses were designed by Bertram Mackennal, reverses by Kruger Gray. Described by Hern as the "glamour set" of the Union of SA series of proof sets, the 1931 issue retains it's reputation as one of the most sought after sets even though other years have comparably lower proof mintages. It is the overall very low mintages and survival rate that make these coins stand out.
This year also represents the year in which the reverse legend spelling was changed from the Dutch "Zuid Afrika" to the Afrikaans "Suid Afrika". The halfpenny and farthing were reportedly struck in both varieties with the "Suid" legend only struck in proof and hence the 62 proofs minted represent the entire minted population.
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