South African currency has evolved from the early days where bartering with items of value was the prevalent form of trading. Commercial banks kept and secured people’s items of value and in return issued them with promissory notes. To date, this trusted system has evolved to banknotes and coins. Banknotes and coins are used daily for transactions.
South Africa has a rich history of currency usage, formalised with the introduction of coin in the region in 1652. Since then the country has used different currencies and coins which were made from copper, silver and gold.
From 1956 to 1958, the Decimalisation Coin Commission explored the decimalisation of South African currency, with their recommendations adopted in the Decimalisation Coin Act of 1959.
The third decimal coin series is divided into the following three groups:
In 1652 the ﬁrst European settlers arrived on South Africa's shores and brought along their countries' coins. A Dutch explorer, Jan van Riebeeck, created a trading station on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. This trading station later become known as Cape Town. Netherlands' ofﬁcial currency, the Dutch guilder, became the ofﬁcial currency used among other currencies brought by different traders and mariners passing through Cape Town.
In 1782 the ﬁrst paper money was brought to Cape Town. The Rix dollar and the stiver denominations were the issued paper currency of Cape Town. The ﬁrst notes were handwritten. These notes included a government ﬁscal handstamp indicating the date of its issue and the note value.
The Dutch East India Company went bankrupt in the late eighteenth century. Great Britain took control of the region, declaring it a British colony in 1806. They introduced their currency, which lasted until 1826. At that time, sterling coinage became the sole legal tender and various foreign currencies were not allowed to co-circulate.
The “Burgers Pond” was issued during 1874 bearing, the portrait of Thomas Francois Burger, South Africa’s ﬁrst president. After the discovery of gold, South Africa built a mint in Pretoria and began issuing coins depicting Paul Kruger. These coins, issued between 1892 and 1902, were based on the British pound sterling. The minting of South African coins was halted in 1902 as the second Anglo-Boer War had begun. The production of South African coins by Pretoria's Royal Mint began again in 1923 and continued until 1931.
South Africa continued to use the British coin system until 1961 when South Africa gained independence and became a republic. This was the beginning of the South African rand, which takes its name from the Witwatersrand where gold was discovered. On 14 February 1961, the rand, replaced the pound. Rand denominations issued were the R1, R2, R10 and R20. They were signed by Governor Rissik and remained active until 1967.
The SARB does not demonetise its currency.
All banknotes issued by the SARB remain legal tender and retain their respective face value, irrespective of the issue date.
Members of the public will receive the face value for their old series banknotes if they are exchanged at the South African Reserve Bank Head Office in Pretoria or by effecting a deposit at a commercial bank branch where they hold an account. Below is a list of commercial bank branches.