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When Scarce gets Rare : Veldpond vs. Burgerspond

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Although I am not a ZAR collector, I was looking at the NGC population statistics for ZAR Gold Ponde for some reason, and saw that a MS67 Burgers Pond (Fine Beard) was graded. That must have made someone VERY happy when that result came through!


What was even more interesting to see was how scarce the number of Burgerspond graded specimens is compared to that of the Veld Ponde.


The two coins have comparable mintage figures (837 vs. 986) BUT only 50 Burgersponde have been graded by NGC vs. the 132 Veldponde that have been graded. And of those that have been graded, 54% of the Veldponde got a Mint State grade vs the 42% of the Burgersponde that graded MS. (Actually, only 3 out of the 10 Coarse Beards got a MS grade vs. the 18 out of 40 Fine Beards to got that grade).


But even more surprising was the downright rarity of the 1895 Pond that is in every respect as scarce as the single shaft 1892 Pond. I just did not know that.


Looks like one must study these stats more regularly!



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I have started to look at the census reports more regularly recently, both NGC and PCGS though not for all South Africa coins. For the coins you profile, here are some possible explanations:


First, IF the 1895 and 1892 SS are actually scarcer, the primary likely explanation is that they were both removed from circulation and better preserved both because of their low mintages and because the designs are unique, especially the veld pond. The veld pond also because of its historical significance to South African collectors. (Edit: These comments need to be "flipped to the vend and Burgess ponds.)


Second, to the extent that there are any (which I do believe), there are almost certainly more duplicates for the Burgess pond and veld pond both because of their value and to a lesser extent, their higher grades.


Third, however many are left available to grade, there are probably more of the 1892 SS and 1895 ponds for the reasons I just provided.


The general point you are making really goes to what are the factors that impact and predict both the absolute number of survivors and the grade distribution. It's something which interests me a great deal which is why I have covered it so many times. It interests me a lot because it impacts both the price and the probability of finding the coins I want to buy. And with the price, both how much to pay now and what the coins may sell for in the future.


The normal pattern is for low mintage coins (whether actual or imaginary) to have above average survival rates and an above average of the surviving population in high grade. With other coins I track, this is practically true of most US coin issues or to give another example, the 1846 Ecuador 8 reales (a coin which probably no one here has ever heard of) which has a reported mintage of about 1300. It is a scarce coin but it's apparently more common in better grades than the corresponding 1855, 1857 and 1862 4 reales, the latter of which is an almost impossibly difficult coin to find.


As a complete guess, I would estimate that maybe 10% to 20% of the Burgess pond mintage exists and slightly more for the veld pond. This includes subtracting out duplicates but also adding in problem coins which are particularly numeroous for the Burgess pond. I have seen a lot of these for this coin.


Applying this same line of logic to other South African coins, this is why I believe that some Union issues in particular have more or a lot more survivors than many (probably most) here seem to think. The specific coins which have low mintages are the 1947 and 1948 1/, the 1947, 1948 and 1950 2/ and 1947-1950 2/6. The same can be said of the 1924 Sovereign and 1959 5/. For a mid 20th century coin from a country the size of South Africa, these mintages are miniscule.


I do not believe the survival rates are as nearly high as either the Burgess or veld pond, but I think they are potentially proportionately a lot higher than what is apparent in the census today. And I say this despite what is known of the smeltings which does not remotely explain how only 1% or less of the original mintage supposedly remains (for those who believe the census is mostly complete).


First, these coins were issued much later in the Union period and absent evidence to the contrary, there should have been more collectors to save them than earlier, even though I agree that the collecting population was low.


Second, I presume that these coins would have achieved a premium closer to their issuance than most others exactly because of their low mintages. In my 1962 Kaplan guide, I believe the 1948 2/6 has a price of 90/ in UNC. As a basis of comparison, the 1925 2/ was listed at 60/. I do not have an older source but it is only logical to expect that some premium existed earlier and was known to others aside from the few collectors which existed at that time.


Third, just as in the United States, for the reason I just gave, some non-collectors would also have saved them. This includes foreigners who took them back home. Especially for locals, it would be ILLOGICAL to assume otherwise because a premium of up to 45 TIMES (edit: make that about 35) would be enough of an incentive to do so. The distinction between the US and SA is that stateside, there were many speculators who saved coins by the thousands or even tens of thousands while I believe that no large scale hoarding took place of these SA issues.

Edited by jwither

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