A copy of the picture of a South African bank note that is selling for R1400 on Ebay.

The rand may have weakened against major world currencies over the past year but there appears to be rising interest on the internet in South Africa’s bank notes bearing the face of Nelson Mandela.

Some of the first “Mandela notes”, introduced in November last year, have been advertised for multiple times their face value – and people across the globe are placing bids in the hope of snapping them up.

Hundreds of adverts have popped up since the elder statesman’s death two weeks ago. Sellers from South Africa, the UK and even South Korea hoping for a fast buck are offering “first issue” bank notes and “crisp new Mandela notes” for as much as R1 000.

An advert posted on Gumtree reads: “Crisp AA serial number Mandela Notes and Mandela coins for the year 2000 and 2008”, and states that a full set of Mandela bank notes costs R1 200. This includes a R200 note, a R100, a R50, a R20 and a R10 note.

Collectively they are worth only R380, but there have been more than 20 bids on this advert alone.

On eBay, a seller from Portugal is selling his collection of “New South African Nelson Mandela bank notes that have never been used” for $100 (about R1 028), while another offered a “Nelson Mandela uncirculated South African 10 rand note” for the equivalent of R1 400.

Mandela gold coins are also being promoted, with some said to be worth R20 000.

South African Reserve Bank spokesman Hlengani Mathebula said it was important for people to note that “while there are many honest and reputable coin dealers that offer collectable coins at fair prices, there are also those who can charge unrealistic prices or sell worthless coins to the public”.

The bank urged people to compare prices before deciding to transact.

According to Mathebula, the Reserve Bank issued commemorative circulation coins as a form of currency.

“Commemorative circulation coins are usually issued to commemorate an event that touches a wider section of society and are made available and accessible to the public either at face value or at a reasonable cost,” he said.

Such coins were always minted in large numbers. For example, the commemorative Mandela R5 coin that was issued in 2008 for the former president’s 90th birthday was still worth R5, or whatever a buyer was willing to pay for it.

“But all coins are collectable,” said Mathebula. “Sometimes a coin will be sold at a premium to its face value, like uncirculated coins. In some cases, such coins may commemorate a special occasion, item or event. The purpose of the purchaser would be to collect. Therefore, they would also preserve such a coin to retain its quality.”

Johan Reyneke, marketing manager at The South African Gold Coin Exchange, said although there had been a recent increase in demand for the Mandela gold coin, it had also been sought-after before Mandela’s death. - The Daily News