South African coins celebrate first heart transplant’s jubilee

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

June 8, 2017 – The South African Mint has issued a silver coin that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the medical miracle that astonished the world in 1967, the world’s first heart transplant. The extraordinary surgery is celebrated on a unique pair of coins: a 2-Rand silver coin and a 2 ½ cent Tickey. Together these coins allow the viewer to imagine the transplant. The small silver Tickey coin, depicting the good heart, appears on top on the larger coin depicting the poor heart.

The very complex and correct anatomical detail was designed by the South African Mint’s designer Richard Stone as well as renowned artist Carl Jeppe. (Carl Jeppe is a well-respected artist and lecturer of figure drawing at the Technikon School of Fine Arts, in Pretoria. He was also Richard Stone’s drawing lecturer in the mid 90’s). The engraver (aka die sinker) was Paul Botes of the South African Mint who worked closely with the designers to ensure that the precise details were exactly transferred to the master tooling. 

South Africa / 2 Rand / Silver .925 / 1 oz / 38.725mm / Design: Arthur Sutherland (obverse), Richard Stone and Carl Jeppe (reverse) / Mintage: 1,700.

The reverse of the larger 2 Rand coin depicts in great detail the skeleton, epidermis, veins and organs of the torso area of the human body. Even the complex of veins and arteries weaving their way into and out of the heart can be seen, as well as the web of blood vessels connected into the liver. Also visible are the detailed texture of the outer wall of the heart, and even the puffy pillowlike tubing of the large and small intestines. This diseased heart shows fat deposits, dying muscle and an area of blocked blood flow, as noted in the central area where the frosted and polished surface seems darker. A prominent circle indicates the position of the heart, as well as serving as the placeholder for the small Tickey and the imagined cavity of the human chest. Also located on this side in the upper right quadrant of the coin is the anniversary date 1967.12.03 (December 3, 1967) when this highly specialized surgery was performed, the face value of 2-Rand and the words “First Heart Transplant,” superimposed over the lower half of the torso.

South Africa / 2 ½ cent Tickey / Silver .925 / 1.3g / 16.30mm / Design: Kruger Gray (obverse), Richard Stone and Carl Jeppe (reverse) / Mintage: 1,700.

The reverse of the small 2-½ cent Tickey depicts, again in minute detail, a healthy heart, with the thick healthy aorta coming out of the top of the heart, the many blood vessels and the texture of the heart wall. The frosting of the relief of the healthy heart is lighter, whiter to indicate the much better quality of this heart. The proof finish on the mirrored background focuses attention on the perfection of the healthy heart. Also located on this side are the face value of 2 ½ cents, the alloy of .925 silver combined with .75 copper and the initials “CNB” representing the chief surgeon of this miracle; Dr. Christian Neethling Barnard.

The obverse of the 2-Rand coin bears the standard coat of arms of the Republic of South Africa and is centered on the coin, flanked on either side by the year of issue, 2017. Surrounding the coat of arms is the name of South Africa in the eleven official languages of the country, (both Ndebele and Zulu languages have the same spelling). The obverse design was developed by Arthur Sutherland in the year 2000. Mr. Sutherland was the former Master Engraver of the Mint and who retired in 2002.

The obverse of the 2 ½ cent Tickey is the standard depiction of the King Protea, South Africa’s national flower in the central field, with the country of issue, “South Africa”, struck inside the rim of the coin and positioned at the top. The year of issue “2017” appears inside the bottom rim of the lower edge of the coin. The obverse design was developed and engraved by Kruger Gray whose initials “KG” are noted to the right of the base of the stem of the Protea flower. The heritage obverse first appeared in circulation in 1922. Mr. Gray was a former engraver of the Royal Mint who passed away in 1943.

The “World’s First Heart Transplant” twinned coin is struck in sterling silver, .925 fine, available only in proof with a strictly limited mintage of just 1,700 coins of each type. The 2 Rand coin contains a full ounce, or 31.1 grams of fine silver while the 2 ½ cent Tickey has 1.3 grams of fine silver. Each coin may be purchased separately or as a pair housed in an elegant hand-crafted wooden box made of walnut with a glossy piano finish varnish. Only 700 of these elegant wooden cases with the pair of coins will be made available.

To read more about the moving story behind the first heart transplant, please click here.

And this is the website of The Heart of Cape Town Museum.