World Coins: The 1898 Sammy Marks Tickey
A popular coin amongst collectors of rare South African coins is the Sammy Marks tickey. In South Africa, the three pence coin was known as a “tickey” although the reason it was called that is unknown. The tickey was in circulation in South Africa until 1960, until British currency was replaced by the Rand.
The first tickeys were struck between 1892 and 1897 by President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic.The coin depicts the portrait of the President Paul Kruger on the reverse and a laurel wreath surrounding the number three on the obverse.
The Sammy Marks tickey of 1989 is a very rare coinstruck by the mining tycoon Sammy Marks. A total of 215 pieces were struck in 22 carat gold in the same design as the silvertickey of 1892–97. The gold coins were minted by Marks as gifts to give to his friends and colleagues.
Sammy Marks was born in Lithuania to Jewish parents in 1843. To escape the persecution of Jews in Europe, he immigrated to South Africa where he started out life as a peddler in the Cape Province. When news reached him of diamond discoveries in Kimberley, he headed north and set up a trading store with his cousin Isaac Lewis. The pair branched out into diamond trading and eventually owned a quarter of the diamond claims in the region.
When coal was discovered in Vereeniging they sold their claims and bought coal-bearing farms along the Vaal River. Not only did Marks set up a coal factory, he also established several manufacturing industries, including a distillery, a canning factory, a glass factory, flour-mills and a brick and tile works.
The discovery of gold deposits in the Transvaal prompted him to move to Pretoria where he struck up a friendship with President Paul Kruger.Marks encouraged Kruger to build a railway linking Pretoria and Lourenco Marques. He helped finance the project by securing loans from the British and South African Government.
As a gesture of appreciation to Marks for his role as financier to the government, he was allowed the use of the National Mint for one day. Using gold from his own mines, Marks had 215 tickeys struck to give as mementos to friends and family, including Paul Kruger and members of his government. Today, these rare gold coins are worth a fortune. Only 32 out of the original 215 are known to have been graded. A Sammy Marks tickey sold this year for R1.5 million ($182,650).