Towards the end of the Anglo Boer War, the Boers experienced a critical shortage of money with which to buy provisions for the Commandos. At Pilgrim's Rest a group of Boers, consisting mainly of pro-Boer foreigners coined, according to the latest information that came available, 650 gold pounds, the so-called Veldpond, in the workshop of the Transvaal Gold Mining Estate (TGME).
For almost 100 years, disturbingly incorrect information about the Veldpond was propagated. It started with a Dutch teacher, PJ Kloppers, who told journalists and authors of numismatic books that he was the initiator, leader and expert on minting the Veldpond3 . As this one-sided version was consistently repeated without verification, it was accepted as the truth.
Kloppers was not the Head of the Field Mint as he claimed. It was in fact Field Cornet AGE Pienaar. After the war Kloppers also claimed that it was he who made the gold malleable, despite the fact that a master gold essayer was a member of the team. He also claimed that he hardened and annealed the dies, while a trained blacksmith actually did it4. Moreover, in an interview5 he even claimed that he had been the mechanic of the Mint. This inaccurate version of the history of the Veldpond obscures the fact that each member of the team was a specialist in his own field and that the credit should not be attributed to one person only.
The idea of making gold coins originated with GA Waldeck and a further surprising discovery was made that some of the ideas expressed by Jules Perrin in 1874, were put into practice in producing the Veldpond in 1902. Furthermore it was also discovered that Michael Cooney, who was a gold assayer, has been grossly overlooked in publications about the Veldpond. It is to be noted that Cooney received the largest remuneration of all the personnel of the Field Mint2. After a century it is high time that historical facts be rectified so that all the team members be acknowledged for contribution in making the Veldpond.
1 This research was done independently and exclusively by dr Rentia Landman.
Any claims to the contrary are completely devoid of all truth.
2 Veldpond in the Absa collection
3 Letter of Kloppers in The Rand Daily Mail 9 October 1902
Interviews with Kloppers:
• September 1927, The Star.
• 1933 JT Becklake.
• August 1936, Vaderland.
• Sunday 29 October 1939, interview by P Stoker TAB Aanwins 551.
• 1939 Personal correspondence between Kloppers and professor Arndt. TAB Aanwins 551.
• January 1949, Fleur
•1950 CL Engelbrecht in Johannesburg for an article in Opsaal. June 1950.
•1953 P Stoker in Pretoria for Yskor Nuus. December 1953.
4 Marshall, Alex. Letter addressed to Colonel Serjeant. 18 November 1902.
5 AM v S. Die laaste stukkie republikeinse goud: Mnr PJ Kloppers :Die waarheid oor die Kruger-veldponde in Fleur January 1947.
6 National Archives, Pretoria