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How Scarce are our 1931 silver coins really?

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Even those with only a passing interest in our coins, are aware of the fact that the silver coins of 1931 are scarce.


But how scarce are they actually?


If one takes the mintage figures as provided in Herns latest catalogue, 62 proofs of each denomination were struck;– the following figures are for non-proofs.


Tickey (3d): 66 coins

Sixpence (6d): 4743 coins

Shilling (1/-): 6541 coins

Two Shilling (2/-): 383 coins

Half Crown (2/6- ): 790 coins


Interesting to note, is that Alec Kaplan, in his first edition of the Coins of South Africa(1950), stated that only proofs (specimens) were struck (and no non-proofs) but in later editions, he did acknowledge the non-proof figures as in Herns latest catalogue.


According to the NGC population statistics, they graded the following non proofs


3d : 3 coins: VG, F and VF

6d : 7 coins : VG x 3, F, VF, MS64 and MS65

1/- : 8 coins : AG x 2, G x 2, VG x 1, F x 1 and XF45 x 2

2/- : None

2/6- : 3 coins: G x 2 and AU50


According to the SANGS statistics, 3 x 6d, 3 x 1/- and 2 x 2/6- coins were graded in non-proof condition with no 3d and 2/- coins.


When one look at the above figures, it shows that the silver coins of 1931 are probably scarcer than many people realized.


How many 1931 silver coins were actually offered to collectors by dealers throughout the years?


I compiled a summary of 35 price lists issued by South African dealers from 1967 to 1998 (as well as some more recent BidorBuy figures) – see the following and note that some coins are obviously re-offerings from previous unsold lists.


Interestingly enough, no non-proof Tickeys were offered and only one 2/- and three 2/6-pieces.



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Collectors outside of South Africa will know these coins are scarce by the mintage, such as in Krause. I knew this when I started collecting the series but the low catalog prices misled me to the actual scarcity. In 1998, I believe the 2/ was listed at $1250 in UNC. The 3d maybe $3500, same as the proof. The others, less. The Krause prices remained unchanged in the 2010 electronic edition, as did practically the entire series, a complete absurdity. Given these prices, I thought I would be able to find them.


In my 2008 Hern catalog, the 1931 2/ is listed for far less than many other dates, another absurdity.


Going by the data you provided and the sales I listed in the other topic and previously, its likely that none of these coins outside of the 6D have ever been sold publicly (by dealer or at auction) in MS or any better grade. So the question then becomes, where exactly did these catalog prices come from? Answer: They just made them up, that's what.


Normally, these low mintages imply high survival rates in high grades for more recent coins, at least in the United States though I cannot say if this is also normally true elsewhere. The 1931-S cent with a mintage of (I believe) 566,000 ("low" for a US coin) probably has tens of thousands left even even in MS because it is a 'key" date. Same for the 1909-S VDB with a mintage of 484,000. (I have heard survival estimates of 50,000 for the second coin and the combined census lists thousands even in MS, though many are duplicates because of its relatively high price.) The mintage was known as "low" when issued and even a lot of non-collectors saved them for this reason. In the UK, there are several KGV crowns from the 1930's with low mintages (a few thousand or slightly more) but the survival rates don't seem to be that high, though much higher than the 1931 Union silver.


Reiterating the sales I recall:


3D: maybe the NGC VG-8 on BoB. I recall it being offerred at R70,000 but with no takers. But as stated previously, this assumes it is actually an actual business strike and not an impaired proof.


6D: Bakewell MS-65 sold this year for I think GBP 15,000 (or maybe it was 12,000) plus buyers fee. Heritage sold an NGC "AU details" (a coin I think is actually MS but cleaned) for $1265 maybe five years ago. DNW or Baldwin's offered two specimens (maybe the same coin) which sold for 80 GBP and 200 GBP mayeb four or five years ago.


Shilling: I believe I saw one of the SANGS coins offerred on BoB within the last several years but no sale. NEN sold one of the NGC G-4 coins for $495 in 2009, same coin which DNW sold ungraded as part of a group lot in September 2008. DNW sold another NGC G-4 for I think GBP (or USD) 150 in 2013.


Florin: Geejay sold the VF "details" (prior to details grading and not in a holder) in 2009 here on BoB for I believe about R11000 or $1600 USD.


Half Crown: The better SANGS coins was offered at an exorbitant price and did not sell. Bakewell's NGC VF "details" coins did not sell this year. DNW sold an ungraded (probably a G-4 if gradeable) coin in 2013. I saw another G-4 equivalent on eBay sell for about $130 in 2008. Heritage shows two having been sold in their archives, both look G or VG. I believe Geejay owns one of them.

Edited by jwither

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