Nelson Mandela commemorative notes and coins were issued by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) in mid-July. According to Eyewitness News (SA), some of the new notes have already been dispensed to Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in South Africa. The main roll-out will happen over the next few months. Business Tech noted that the official launch was announced by a statement from SARB. They also noted that the notes represent "the first time in the nearly 100-year history of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), [that] a series of commemorative banknotes are being issued." The issue was set to coincide with the upcoming International Nelson Mandela Day which is on July 18th.

The day is the date of his birthday in 1918.

The Reserve Bank notes the Mandela money is not issued as collectables

The notes that were printed include the R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200 notes. There is also a third issue of the five rand coin. The Rand (ZAR) is the official currency of South Africa, currently trading at around UKP 17.00 to one. Items associated with Mandela tend to be associated with collectables. But Eyewitness News confirmed that this time around, the notes and coins are for general use.

They noted that 400 million banknotes have been put into circulation. For a start, that would devalue any short-term value as collectables. Governor Lesetja Kganyago stressed that the run of money cost the same as they would for any issue and like other countries they quite regularly do this, as it is standard practice.

Commemorative notes won't appreciate in value

The notes are not expected to appreciate in value.

The Nelson Mandela notes are attractive, but SARB notes that people may want to keep them as a collection. Kganyago said, "If you look at the notes and say ‘how beautiful are they, I don’t want to spend them… I want to keep them,’ just remember when you keep these notes they don’t add interest.

For you to earn interest on those notes you’d have to put them into a bank.”

Note quality and security checks

The Reserve Bank website explains that the notes are of very good quality and have the highest standards of security. "When the new banknotes are tilted, the security thread will change to a different colour that is unique to each denomination.

  • R10: Green to magenta (i.e. a purple-red colour)
  • R20: Magenta to green
  • R50: Magenta to gold
  • R100: Blue to red
  • R200: Gold to green."

They also come with hidden latent images, raised printing, and horizontal and vertical serial numbers. There are special features for the visually impaired, and these consist of raised lines on the bottom corners of the notes.

There is one on the R10 note and sequentially two on the R20 note, progressing up to five on the R200 note. The five rand coin, when held at an angle will change the appearance of the date from 2018 to 1918. There is a mobile app available on Apple iStore and Google Play for those who want to know more about the features of the notes.

People wishing to buy these notes as collectables should note that they were not created for that purpose.

Already, there are people advertising the sets on sites like eBay at prices more than double their value before shipping. If they ever do increase in value, it's not likely to be inside any immediate time period, even though some outlets reported they will run for an unspecified limited time. But this could refer to the fact that they will run concurrently as valid currency with the old notes and new notes will be disbursed over the next three months or so. The Reserve Bank FAQ page notes that the "current or old banknotes remain legal tender. The current and new banknotes will circulate together until the old ones are withdrawn from circulation." The last Nelson Mandela notes were issued in 2012. As a nice thing to have and to hold, they are great, but people should not invest in the new Nelson Mandela commemorative notes in the hopes of making a fast and profitable financial return.