COINING it may be as simple as rummaging through a jar of old coins.
Were you to find a 1931 tickey among your mother’s collection of shillings, pennies and farthings, for instance, you could be up to R20 000 richer.
But such a scenario is so improbable it would be like striking gold – or silver as this is what the piece is made of.
Only 128 tickeys (three- pence pieces) were made in 1931 because it was amid the Great Depression and there wasn’t a need for coins.
In addition, only 66 of them could have ended up in the ordinary man’s pocket. The remaining 62 were minted as part of proof sets – highly polished sets, which include all the coins struck that year.
Many of those in circulation, said numismatist and coin dealer Natalie Jaffe, were never found.
The last she recalls having been discovered was in 1952 by a milkman doing his rounds.
“I once went through a jar of 18 000 tickeys,” said Jaffe. “There was not one 1931 tickey.”
UK-based collector Nick Yiannakis said other rare and popular South African coins included the gold Veldpond and the Burgers Pond.
The Veldpond was handmade in the field by the Boers in 1902 during the Anglo-Boer War as money grew scarce.
Almost a couple of decades earlier in 1874, the Burgers Pond was struck, making it the first coin in South Africa to have the president’s image – then Thomas Francois Burgers of the then Transvaal Republic – on it.
Some coins were worth hundreds of thousands of rand or even millions.
A mint condition 1926 farthing, for example, was worth R500 000 because only 16 of them were made.
Yiannakis said these kinds of exceptionally rare coins were usually passed down in families, or already in the hands of collectors.
It wasn’t likely that someone would simply find them in their pocket change; though, it also wasn’t impossible.
A gem, however, could still lie at the bottom of your coin jar, according to another collector and consultant, who was reluctant to be named.
“Every South African is going to have a lot of union coins from 1923 to 1964, which are silver and worth quite a bit,” he said.
In certain cases, said Jaffe, people discovered gold coins they didn’t know they had.
According to Johannesburg dealer Nigel McLean, even if these coins were in a bad condition and not suited to collectors’ high standards, they were still worth their weight in gold or silver.
But the experts warned potential coin sellers of three things: to approach reputable dealers or numismatists only, to research their coins before selling and to never clean their coins as this could render valuable coins worthless.
Yiannakis told of a dealer who bought a coin from a pensioner in a small, South African town for R1 000, only to auction it off for £10 000 in the UK.