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South African Legends: The 1898 Sammy Marks Gold Tickey

The infamous “gold “Sammy Marks Tickey” of 1898

The legendary Sammy Marks tickey of 1898 is a very rare coin struck by or on behalf of the mining tycoon Sammy Marks. A total of 215 pieces were struck in 22 carat gold in the same design as the silver tickeys of 1892–97 and using the official 1898 threepence dies (which now reside in the Mint Museum). Various theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain why and how these pieces were struck.

The most accepted version goes something like this…As a gesture of appreciation to Marks for his role as financier to the government, he was allowed the use of the National Mint for one day. Using gold from his own mines, Marks had 215 tickeys struck to give as mementos to friends and family, including Paul Kruger and members of his government.

Who was Sammy Marks?

Sammy Marks was born in Lithuania to Jewish parents in 1843. To escape the persecution of Jews in Europe, he immigrated to South Africa where he started out life as a peddler in the Cape Province. When news reached him of diamond discoveries in Kimberley, he headed north and set up a trading store with his cousin Isaac Lewis. The pair branched out into diamond trading and eventually owned a quarter of the diamond claims in the region.

When coal was discovered in Vereeniging they sold their claims and bought coal-bearing farms along the Vaal River. Not only did Marks set up a coal factory, he also established several manufacturing industries, including a distillery, a canning factory, a glass factory, flour-mills and a brick and tile works.

The discovery of gold deposits in the Transvaal prompted him to move to Pretoria where he struck up a friendship with President Paul Kruger. Marks encouraged Kruger to build a railway linking Pretoria and Lourenco Marques. He helped finance the project by securing loans from the British and South African Government.

This famous incident says much about the close relationship that these two men had. There was often a blurring of the boundary between personal and State property. Their relationship was almost feudal, as that of a king and highly regarded subject. Besides President Kruger, Marks enjoyed the trust of the Boer Generals Botha, De Wet, and de la Rey, and the respect of Earl Roberts, Lord Kitchener, and Lord Milner, and he played a not inconsiderable part in the negotiations for the cessation of Anglo-Boer hostilities at Vereeniging on 31 May 1902.

Sammy Marks died in Johannesburg on 18 February 1920.

We are pleased to present an original and untouched Gold Sammy Marks Tickey Certified by PCGS as SP62…

And that brings us to the specimen presented before you. A coin of the highest quality and finish noted in its grading of SP62 (Specimen Proof – 62). This legendary coin exhibits a rich orange-gold patina, bright lustre and bold definition. Struck on a polished blank, the fields are prooflike with strong reflective qualities resulting in a “golden mirror” appearance. One of the undoubtedly few coins to have survived in untouched state, neither mounted (as many pieces found their way into jewelry) or mistreated and still retaining its originality indicating that it would have been lovingly cared for throughout its 120+ years of existence. A coin teeming with historical significance and surely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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