Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the death of World War II Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, the London Mint Office has launched a limited-edition commemorative coin and medal set featuring the most famous gold coin of the world – the Krugerrand – with a celebratory ‘Winston Churchill 50 Years’ mint mark to honour his life and career. It is being produced exclusively for the London Mint Office in the United Kingdom (UK) by the South African Mint.
James Deeny, Managing Director of the London Mint Office, says “The 2015 Sir Winston Churchill Krugerrand and Medal Set reflects South Africa’s critical role in creating the legend around Winston Spencer Churchill in 1899, over four decades before the name became stamped on 20th century history as a prime architect of Allied victory in the Second World War. Churchill was almost killed in South Africa, but the country ended up being the making of him.”
Just 500 Churchill Krugerrands with the Churchill mark are being struck across each of the four different coin sizes, from 1oz (33mm diameter) to 1/10oz (17mm diameter). Included in each commemorative set is a 1oz silver medal that pays tribute to Winston Churchill as a war correspondent and member of the South African Light Horse (SALH) regiment during the second South African War (1899 – 1902) . The obverse shows him as a young man wearing a slouch hat with the SALH regiment in the background. The stylised Union Jack refers to Winston Churchill’s role as an extraordinary British statesman. The reverse depicts a military cross with the abbreviation ‘SALH’ and the year of its foundation: 1899. The RMS Dunottar Castle as depicted on the medal is the ship, which took Churchill to Cape Town in 1899 and back to Britain in the summer of 1900.
War, Churchill’s own exploits became almost as newsworthy as the events he was reporting on. Despite being in a non-combatant role he led the defence of an armoured train ambushed by the Boers. However, with no gun to defend himself he was captured, surrendering to a Boer fighter called Louis Botha who, within a few years, became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
Three weeks later, Churchill escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp with £75 and four bars of chocolate in his pocket. He found his way back to British-controlled Durban despite a reward for his capture, dead or alive, and became a lieutenant in the South African Light Horse Regiment. On returning to Britain he was greeted as a celebrity and he capitalised on his fame by winning the Oldham seat for the Conservatives in the 1900 general election.
Churchill recognised the importance of South Africa on his path to becoming the UK’s best known Prime Minister, saying “I should not have been caught. But if I had not been caught I could not have escaped and my imprisonment and escape provided me with materials for lectures and a book which brought me in enough money to get into Parliament.”
Tumi Tsehlo, Managing Director at the South African Mint, adds, “With South Africa having such a pivotal place in the Churchill story, it seems fitting to create a Krugerrand in his honour. The Krugerrand has its own important place in history as one of the most revered and sought-after coins, favoured by collectors around the world as one of the best ways of acquiring gold. Its release is a major contribution to the commemorations of the great man’s death in 1965.”