South African Mint Pays Homage to the World’s First Heart Transplant

12 Dec 2017  Tue

The whole world was astonished after the medical miracle that happened in 1967: the world’s first heart transplant. Remembering that, the South African Mint has issued a silver coin, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first transplant. The extraordinary surgery is celebrated on a unique pair of coins: a 2-Rand silver coin and a 2 1?2 cent Tickey. Together these coins allow the viewer to imagine the transplant. The small silver Tickey coin, depicting the good heart, appears on top of the larger coin depicting the poor heart.

South African Mint’s designer Richard Stone and renowned artist Carl Jeppe have designed the complex and anatomical design. 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.

The reverse of the larger 2 Rand coin showcases exact details of the skeleton, epidermis, veins, and organs of the torso area of the human body. Even the complex structure of the veins and arteries, weaving their way into and out of the heart can be seen, as well as the web of blood vessels connected to the liver. Also, visible are the detailed texture of the outer wall of the heart and even the puffy pillow-like tubing of the large and small intestines. The heart showcases fat deposits, dying muscle and a blocked blood flow area, 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.

The reverse of the small 2-1?2 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 depicts a healthy heart. Also, located on this side are the face value of 2 1?2 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. The coat of arms is surrounded by the name South Africa in 11 official languages of the country. 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 1?2 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 “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 1?2 cent Tickey has 1.3 grams of fine silver.

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