In 2016, the South African Mint introduced a South African Inventions series, designed to showcase major inventions and firsts by prominent South Africans. Previous coins commemorate polymer putty, computed tomography and the heart transplant, and this year’s coin profiles a revolutionary innovation in cataract surgery: the retinal cryoprobe.
Developed by Johannesburg-born ophthalmologist Dr Selig Percy Amoils and first used in 1965, the retinal cryoprobe is a pen-like instrument that accurately delivers cold liquid gas into the eye. This gas freezes to a cataract or other abnormal tissue so that it can be removed without the risk of destroying any healthy tissue nearby. It has since also been used in gynaecological and veterinary medicine.
“We created this beautiful coin for coin collectors who cherish the prospect of adding unique themes to their collections, as well as those whose lives have been changed due to this extraordinary invention. This is an everlasting way in which one can cherish the wonderful contributions made by South Africans,” Honey Mamabolo, the Managing Director of the South African Mint, said in an interview with NUMISMAG.
The R2 coin also comes at an interesting point in history. Few people are ever going to forget 2020 – it’s cataclysmic events have ingrained themselves in our memories forever. Mementos are likely to be in high demand in the years to come, including those that require their own ingraining and imprinting processes, such as unusual collectors’ coins.