6. ZAR FIELD MINT AT Pilgrim's REST

General Muller25 appointed the 24-year-old Andries Gustav Erlank Pienaar as Officer in Charge26. In later years it is clear from letters27 that General Muller as well as Field Cornet Pienaar were most disturbed that Kloppers presented himself as Head of the Field Mint. Only two authors of numismatic literature acknowledged Pienaar as the real Head of the Field. That is professor Arendt who acknowledges Pienaar as supervisor of the Field Mint28 and Becklake, who wrote in his book in 1934:

This unique group of coiners or moneyers was under the leadership of Field Cornet André Pienaar.29

Muller appointed Waldeck as project leader and requested Pienaar to appoint the rest of the personnel to work under his supervision.30 Pienaar appointed PJ Kloppers, MJ Cooney, WG Reid and D Graham. The required number of experts was appointed and even more surprising, they used a screw and press principle instead of a strike action, which had been used in the earliest times! Somebody at Pilgrim's Rest must have had the knowledge of minting coins and making medals. The most likely person is Michael Cooney who was an essayer and could have possessed goldsmith skills. It could not have been Pienaar who was a clerk in a magistrate's office before the war, Kloppers who was a teacher, Reid a blacksmith/ mechanic or Graham a gold smelter/battery man. Information on Waldeck's background is not yet known.

6.1 Head of the Field Mint: AGE Pienaar

Andries Gustav Erlank Pienaar (1877-1946)31 had been a clerk at the magistrate's office in Johannesburg before the war.

AGE Pienaar

As a 25 year old he had lead the Field Mint since its founding in February32 and was appointed the chairman of the Mint Commission on 5th May. Pienaar ended his career in the civil service of the Union of South Africa as Secretary33 of the Department of Home Affairs and after that as chairperson of the Government Tender Board.


6.2 Project leader: GE Waldeck

GE Waldeck was a member of the Johannesburg section of the Transvaal Red Cross and he was the official in charge of the Field Hospital at Pilgrim's Rest.34 General Muller appointed him as project leader for the Field Mint but he soon severed his connection with the Mint35 most probably because of his responsibilities at the hospital.


GE Waldeck36

Kloppers took over as project leader, later on called mint master, with the responsibility of receiving the gold in the mornings, distribute it to the personnel and in the afternoons after having weighed it, to hand it over to Pienaar again.37

PJ Kloppers

Philippus Johannes Kloppers (1874-1960)38 was born in Arnhem in the Netherlands. He was trained as a teacher in Amsterdam.39 His main subject was Botany and he also took drawing lessons at College. He had been a teacher at a Grammar School in Surrey, England before he came to the Transvaal in 1897 where he taught English at the Kaapsche Hoop School near Barberton.40 When war broke out he joined the Boer Commandos and with the establishment of the ZAR Field Mint, he was appointed on it for his artistic abilities.

On 5 May 1902, shortly before peace was proclaimed, Kloppers was appointed Deputy Head of the Coinage Works at Pilgrim's Rest under instructions and responsibility of the Mint Commission.41 Kloppers received a remuneration of ₤1042 (£5 as Mint Master and £5 as coin designer). He ended his teaching career as inspector of schools in Johannesburg.


6.3 Assayer: MJ Cooney

Michael Joseph Cooney (1844-1929) was born in Ireland. He immigrated to the USA where he worked in goldmines, became a master essayer and spent time in Europe prior to coming to the Transvaal.43 Shortly before war broke out, he was found guilty of culpable homicide and sent to jail. The residents of Pietersburg sent a petition to President Kruger asking for Cooney's release, because he was a decent man.44 This was granted.

Cooney's signature with the letters ME (Master Essayer)


Cooney was appointed to the team to purify the gold to 24 carat and because of his specialized knowledge of gold. Willy Barter confirmed this in a letter:

We had an experienced American, Mr. J.M. Cooney, who taught us how to make the gold malleable, so to roll it to the required thickness.45

After the war, Cooney left46 South Africa with Generals Viljoen, Cronje and others to attend the World Exhibition at St Louis in the USA in 1904 where they tried to collect money for the impoverished Boers. The project was a failure and Cooney remained in the USA.


6.4 Blacksmith/mechanic

William George Reid (1864-1947)47 Reid was the son of a Scottish immigrant. He received four years apprenticeship in the Cape Colony and had 14 years practical experience in mining workshops where he worked as a mechanic. He was familiar with machinery and he repaired guns and damaged grain mills for the Boers on commando.

WG Reid


It was his task to identify and adapt the machinery that would be required for a minting process and also to turn the dies and to harden them after Kloppers had engraved them. Barter describes him as the handyman of the team and Muller refers to him as a clever engineer.48 He was paid ₤5 for the work he did at the Field Mint. This was paid in Veldponde.49 Later on he became the blacksmith of the Irene Farm Estate and he retired at Zeerust.


6.5 Smelter

Dick Graham was Irish50 and he was responsible for melting and pouring the gold. Melting the gold to get a homogeneous product and then pouring it out in a steady stream, for a good product, needs much skill and practice.51 Becklake made special reference in his book to the skill with which the gold at the Mint on the Field was melted and poured.52 Pienaar mentioned Graham's excellent knowledge of gold.53


D Graham

He received 5 Veldpond for the work he did at the Field Mint. It is said that Dick was a jolly fellow and very strong.54 His strength helped a lot to drive the metal lathe, the rollers and the hand-punching machine with muscle power. After the war he worked at Sabie.




25 Muller, Chris H. Oorlogsherinneringe 1936:166.

26 Pienaar, AGE. Boer Field Mint in Rand Daily Mail. 9 October 1902

27 Vaderland 15 September 1936.

28Arndt EHD. The South African Mints. Pretoria 1939.

29 Becklake, JT. Notes on the coinage of the ZAR 1934:7.

30 Pienaar, AEG. Boer Field Mint in Rand Daily Mail, 9 October 1902

31 National Archive Pretoria. MHG 4567/46.

32 Muller, Chris H. Oorlogsherinneringe 1936:166.

33 Nowadays called Director General.

34 Schultz JO. Pilgrim's Rest and the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

35 Pienaar, AGE. Boer Mint Field in The Rand Daily Mail. 1902.

36 Plate 23 Marshall's Book. Photos of Boer Commandos taken at Pilgrim's Rest.

37 Kloppers, PJ . Manuscript ref 5124. War Museum of the Boer Republics. Bloemfontein.

38 National Archive Pretoria. MHG 8893/60.

39 Meiring, S. Die geskiedenis van Phillipus Johannes Kloppers (1874-1960) en Maria Magdalena Naudé (1881-1970).

40 AM van S. Die laaste stukkie republikeinse goud in Fleur, Januarie 1949.

41 National Archive Pretoria. TAB Aanwins A551.

42 Financial Statements of Field Mint in the National Archive. Pretoria.

43 Information obtained from Professor David Reed Thomas.

44 National Archive Pretoria TAB SP 224 R892/00.

45 Letter from Barter to J Hunter McLea, published by AH Smith's in an article "Marshall's Souvenirs of the ZAR Munt te Velde" in    Notes and News March 1976 Part 22 No 1.

46 Information obtained from professor David Reed Thomas.

47 National Archive Pretoria. MHG 2404/47.

48 Muller, Chris H. Oorlogsherinneringe 1936:166.

49 Personal notes of WG Reid in possession of his granddaughter, Rentia Landman

50 National Archive Pretoria. TAB Aanwins A202.

51 Robson, CR. in Journal of the Institution of Certificated Engineers, South Africa. Dec 1946:244.

52 Becklake, JT. Aantekenings oor Muntstukke van die SA Republiek. 1933:5.

53 Pienaar, AGE. Boer Field Mint. In Rand Daily Mail. 1902

54 Stoker, P. Die Avontuurlike Staatsmunt te Velde 1953:21.

 

 
  INDEX
   
1. Introduction
2. Background
3. Pilgrim's rest
4. Contemplating the making of gold pounds
5. Permission for establishing a government mint
6. ZAR field mint at Pilgrim's rest
7. Workshop and machines
8. Process of making veldpond
9. Cabinet ministers visited Pilgrim's rest
10. The mint commission
11. Final product
12. Medals awarded
13. Veldpond as a reminder
14. How many veldpond were minted?
15. Mining property left behind in excellent condition
16. The last time the dies were used
17. Marshall's book
18. Diorama of the field mint at the empire exhibition 1936
19. Conclusion
20. References