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Z.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay Railway

Z.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay RailwayZ.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay Railway
Z.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay RailwayZ.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay Railway
Z.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay RailwayZ.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay Railway
Z.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay RailwayZ.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay Railway
Z.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay RailwayZ.A. Republic: Kruger: Opening of the Delagoa Bay Railway
Form: Circular. Struck with a proof-like finish. Sometimes the designs are frosted. Of the two silver examples show, the first has frosted designs, the second not.
By: J.P.M. Menger, Utrecht Mint, Holland.
Date: 1895
Ref:  AM: 5; Hern: 16; ME: South Africa 2; Laidlaw: 0090;
Variations:
SizeMetalMassValue
44.0 mmSilver (frosted)34.7 gm$700
44.0 mmSilver (plain)35.5 gm$600
44.0 mmCopper (Single Flange)37.7 gm$200
44.0 mmBronze (Double Flange)40.3 gm$150
44.0 mmCast White Metal32.8 gm$35

Edge: Plain. Stamped with the caduceus mark of the Utrecht Mint.

Obverse: Bust of Paul Kruger facing left, resembling the ZAR coinage. At the foot signed: “J.P.M.MENGER.F.” following the rim. Legend: “OPENING VAN DEN DELAGOABAAI SPOORWEG (opening of the Delagoa Bay railway)”.

Reverse: The emblem of the Z.A. Republic Railways: partly oblique view of a winged wheel speeding to the left down a rail. Behind, twelve streaks of lightening emanating from a cloud. Above: “1895” from which rays shine down behind the design. Signed: “J.P.M.M.F.” at the bottom. Legend on a raised band: “NEDERLANDSCHE ZUID-AFRIKAANSCHE SPOORWEG-MAATSCHAPPIJ (Dutch-South African Railway Company)” with flower at the top.

Notes: The medal was issued to commemorate the official opening of the railway line between Pretoria and the Indian Ocean port of Delagoa Bay, close to Lorenzo Marques, the capital of the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. An agreement, between the ZA Republic and Portugal, to construct the line had been signed in 1875, but the annexation of the Transvaal by the British delayed construction until partial autonomy was restored in 1881. In 1884 a joint Netherland-ZAR company, the Nederlandsche-Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij, had been formed and by 1893 sufficient funds had been obtained for work on the line to commence. Given the mountainous nature of the terrain it is remarkable that the construction was completed in two years.

The artist who executed the design for the medal was Johan Philip Mathias Menger, born in Utrecht, Holland in 1845. In 1885 he was appointed to the position of head engraver at the Royal Mint in Utrecht, and remained in that position until 1904. He was succeeded by J.C. Wienecke who was also responsible for number of commemorative medals related to South Africa.

There are two versions for the reverse design; the first (and earlier) variety shows the wheel with a single flange, the other has a double flanged wheel. All the silver medals have the single flange.

It is reported (in AM, Hern) that 50 silver medals were struck for presentation to senior people connected with the railway. The bronze medals are relatively common.

A unique example of the proof silver medal is engraved on the edge: "JHR. MR. G.I.TH. BEELAERTS VAN BLOKLAND. This medal was presented by President Kruger to Jonkheer (title of Dutch nobility) Beelaerts van Blokland, a Netherlander appointed as the Z.A.R. Minister Plenipotentiary at The Hague, Netherlands. He was the ZAR negotiator in Europe during the foundation of the Nederlandsche-Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij in 1884 and through to the completion of the railway line eleven years later.