ZAR Coins tampered with by Boer and British POWs

(known as trench art) - all pieces in the Balson Holdings Family Trust


The authentic pieces hold far more attraction to me than a 1931 proof 3d who's value is set by its mintage. Each one of the pieces shown below is totally unique and a genuine Kruger coin defaced by Prisoners of War during the Boer War. Many of the pieces (like the first one displayed below) would have taken months of intense engraving, cutting and work to create the finished product... this is history and, to me, the true embodiment of numismatics in the making. 

The gold keep-sake given by a sister to an Australian soldier displayed below was quite a common gift when soldiers departed their home shores to fight for "Queen and Country".

Keepsake in Balson Holdings Family Trust

What makes the ZAR trench art coins below so different is that they were a reflection of hours and hours of idle time by captive British soldiers in boer prisons.

There are only a handful of the original doctored ZAR coins in the world today - and the ones displayed below are all unique (like the 1902 Veld Pond).

It should be noted that, like me, more and more numismatists are starting to seek out these trench art pieces. In 2003 I was able to acquire these pieces when they became available on eBay for just a couple of dollars. In March 2005 a single piece with little work fetched over US$30!

Tampered with by British POWs

Coindzata Newsletter:

There is another interesting historical reason why ZAR coins were damaged. Many Boers were held as “krygsgevangenes” (prisoners of war) after the Anglo Boer War in foreign destinations far away from home. Being bored, many of them used coins to manufacture momentous - either as pieces of jewellery, or they would engrave the coins. (A favourite pass time was to scratch an image of a hat and a pipe for President Paul Kruger on the coin.)

2/- Cut one side, engraved the other

The ZAR Crest in a normal 2/-

replaced by a Victorian 3d and Paul Kruger with a pipe and hat

I came across this extremely rare "double headed coin" above while working in Barclays bank in South Africa in the 1970s

I don't know the exact history of this Paul Kruger (ZAR) coin but what I can tell you is that the Zuid Afrikaans Republiek Crest has been carefully removed by a British prisoner of war (1899-1902) who was interned at a Boer prison camp. With nothing else to do what better way to pass the time than to etch out the crest of the "boers" and insert a Victorian 3d coin where the crest used to be. He must have had a lot of time on his hands as the old Victorian 3d not only sits flush in the 2/- ZAR coin but it looks like an integral part of the original coin, such was this prisoner-of-war's dedication to belittling the boer President in style.

The other side of the Kruger coin has a pipe and a hat engraved on the leader of the boer people's profile and there are smoke engravings coming from the pipe.

Pieces like the one above are far more valuable than other trench art (seen below) because of the skill and craftsmanship in creating the finished work. While the pieces below might have a numismatic value of less than US$20 ones like that above can be worth up to US$1,000.

2/6 Paul Kruger wearing a woman's shawl

Unlike the second example (below) the tampering has been done with no damage to the other face except as a result of the doctoring.

The tail of the doctored 2/6
damaged in the doctoring of the
other side

The doctored head of Kruger
and the ultimate insult draped
in a woman's shawl. 

In the second example of doctored ZAR coinage, above, Paul Kruger has been draped in a boer woman's shawl ("x" engraving 4 to 6 o'clock of coin) - a real insult that would have seen the perpetrator facing death if caught!

1/- Hat and classic pipe:

An 1896 shilling doctored in the common theme aimed at denigrating the boers.

Tampered with by Boer POWs

The 2/- ZAR Coins turned into pendants

The fourth and fifth tampered ZAR coin in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection are pendants a 2/- coin (top) and the other a 2/6 both carved by Boer prisoner of war in one of the British concentration camps (St Helena, Ceylon or Bermuda) during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). They bear the ZAR coat of arms on one side, and the likeness of President Paul Kruger on the other. More about the Boer war concentration camps can be seen at this link.

The 2/6 ZAR coin turned into a token of love

The sixth tampered ZAR coin has been quite beautifully carved leaving the eagle and other prominent aspects of the original coin design - but with the word "EDITH" carefully carved across the position where the crest f the boer republic once stood. It is mounted on a pin .

Value in 2005: The trench art pieces are sought after - once valued at from just a few dollars. Seen on auction quite often.

REFERENCE BOOK: Ray Leppan's excellent 2008 book on ZAR trenchart can be seen at this link

Check out this 2009 sale for a related item on eBay! About US$200

Pres Burgers
[1872: Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) £1 Note] [1874: Coarse Beard Burgers Pond] [1874: ZAR Patterns]

Pres Paul Kruger

[1892 Double Shafted Coins] [1892 - 1900: ZAR Paul Kruger Coins] [OFS Postal Notes]
[1900 Pretoria Bank Notes] [1901 Pietersburg Bank Notes] [1902 Te Velde Bank Notes]
[Boer POW notes]
[1902: Veld Pond] [ZAR Coins tampered with by Boer and British Prisoners of War (POWs)]

Boer War Siege notes and exonumia
 [1893 Bechuanaland Border Police Coins] [1899- 1900: Mafeking Siege Notes and Newspaper Siege Slips]
[1900 Marshall Hole Bulawayo Card Currency]

Miscellaneous Exonumia
[Who is Paul Kruger] [Title Deeds signed by Kruger] [Lord Roberts' proclamation of Kruger's desertion - Sept 1900]
[Contemporary Books on Boer War] [Kruger's Unique Family Photo] [Other Boer Coins & Medallions]

[Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek Coins and Notes] [Web Site Text Site Map]
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