Sammy Marks House and the Gold Tickey

Sammy Marks was a character of note, and one of the most interesting personalities in the days of President Paul Kruger of the ‘Old Transvaal’. The boer republic dished out some of the worst defeats delivered on the British. He was the son of a Russian Jewish tailor who fled from persecution to Kimberley in 1869, when he heard that diamonds were easy pickings. He also believed in living well.

The Man and His Family

Sammy was a natural for his time. He was sharp, astute, daring, and had phenomenal business acumen. He befriended Paul Kruger on the basis they were both from humble origins. This put him in a good position to acquire interests in lucrative deposits of coal, and gold geologists were discovering every month. Soon he was a very wealthy man.

Sammy Marks Family, sammy marks, family picture, old picture
Sammy Marks Family

A Humble Drawing Room

In 1898, the Transvaal Republic found itself unable to pay its civil servants because of the cost of fighting the British. Sammy Marks was so wealthy he literally bankrolled the country. My grandfather was a personal friend of Sammy. His son, my own father told me Paul Kruger was so grateful he gave his pal the run of the state mint for a day.

Drawing Room in Sammy Marks Museum: sammy marks, old house
Drawing Room in Sammy Marks Museum: Janek Szymanowski / CC BY-SA 3.0

Gift for Dinner Party Guests

Most rational people would have minted gold sovereigns, but not Sammy Marks. He had enough money already, so he minted gold threepenny ‘tickey’ pieces that were usually silver. Why tickeys, I asked my father? They were the smallest size coins son. Sammy wanted trinkets to give away at a party that night.

Gold Tickey, sammy marks, gold coins
Head and Tail of Sammy Marks Gold Tickey

Sammy Marks Museum

The refugee son of a Jewish tailor built a forty-room mansion on a farm near Pretoria where his family lived well, by all accounts. By 1984, the house was semi derelict but intact in accordance with his will. It became a museum – perhaps the only museum – that recalls this period so perfectly. In fact, it is quite a place.

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Sammy Marks Museum: Janek Szymanowski / CC BY-SA 3.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard Farrell

I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.

My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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