Coins are making a comeback after COVID, with today’s release of Australia Post’s new A-Z collection of $1 coins celebrating great Aussie icons.
Yes, the Great Aussie Coin Hunt is back, with all 26 newly minted coins available at participating post offices, via the Australia Post website and – with any luck – in your change.
According to RAM coin designer Bronwyn Scott, the newly released alphabet of icons* will delight and amuse coin lovers of all ages.
The collection includes favourites like Sydney Opera House and the koala and there are some funny surprises too, including flies being thwacked* by a fly swot on the F coin and a cross-looking emu on the E.
“I just love how quirky* he is,” Ms Scott said. “I feel like emus have a lot of character, so I had fun trying to get that unpredictable* quirkiness of the emu. I ended up doing a bit of a stylised thing (with the collection), trying to get that quirky, Australian larrikin* vibe to it.”
Ms Scott’s path to coin design was unexpected. After completing a Bachelor of Natural History Illustration, she did an advanced diploma in graphic design and only discovered coin design after applying for another role at RAM.
Even after eight years in the job, Ms Scott said the chief challenge in designing each $1 coin remained the minuscule* size of her canvas.
“You’ve got such a tiny area to fit so much information on. It’s just that balance of keeping it simple … but still getting as much detail and information as you can.”
Ms Scott said she feels “pretty lucky” to be designing something that so many people can see, especially when a coin that ends up in general circulation* and people can just find it in their change.
“That’s pretty awesome,” she said. “That the coin could still be here in 100 years’ time is also something that’s pretty exciting. So many things these days are digital … so it’s nice to design something that you can touch and feel and will still be there in 100 years.”
The long life of a coin has extra meaning for collectors too.
“A lot of stamps and coins illustrate events, so you learn a lot about the history and the background,” said lifelong collector Frank Pauer, vice president of the Royal Philatelic* Society Victoria and vice president of the Australian Philatelic Federation.
Both Mr Pauer and Michael Zsolt, Australia Post’s philatelic group manager, said collecting is all about storytelling.
“There’s always a story behind it, it’s not tied to a fad, it’s not tied to a fashion, it’s tied to Australia’s history. What the past 12 months have taught us is that we really need to be appreciative* of what we’ve got,” Mr Zsolt said.
“Australia Post takes very seriously the fact that we also are charged with recording Australia’s history …(and) a reflection of what Australian society is all about.
“We really want to bring Australia back to Australians. So the Great Aussie Coin Hunt gives us a great opportunity to do that,” he said.
And if you think that Ms Scott and the RAM design team have special access to the Great Aussie Coin Hunt collection, think again: RAM security is tight and the ability to handle any coin is strictly limited.
“We’re upstairs in our coin design studio,” Ms Scott said. “We get to see the final products, but not so much the bulk of the circulating coins. The massive drums of $2 coins? That just happens every day without us really noticing.”
As for what her friends and family think of her job at the Mint, Ms Scott said they think it’s “pretty cool.”
“You just don’t realise that these jobs are out there, so tell (kids) when they get old enough to start applying (and) get into graphic design.”
Did you know?
- According to research commissioned by the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) in September and October 2020, the equivalent of 1 in 5 Australians currently enjoys collecting coins
- RAM doesn’t just produce the coins we use in daily life – the coin design team also designs medallions and medals for a variety of reasons including awards and Commonwealth Games medals
- RAM coin designers do not design the coins by hand – they work on computers using graphic design software
- Australia Post has a secure archive room that holds examples of every stamp issue in the company’s 112-year history
- icons: a person or thing worthy of notice and respect
- thwacked: forcefully hit or struck
- quirky: peculiar or unexpected
- unpredictable: unexpected, not typical
- larrikin: cheeky, full of mischief, unconventional
- minuscule: very small
- circulation: the public availability of something
- philatelic: relating to collecting stamps and the study of postal history
- appreciative: showing gratitude or pleasure
- How many coins are in the new collection and why?
- Which is RAM coin designer Bronwyn Scott’s favourite coin in the collection?
- Which bachelor degree did Ms Scott study at university?
- What are three things about coins that collectors value beyond money?
- What is the biggest design challenge when designing a coin?
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1. Design your own Aussie coin
What letter does your first name start with? Brainstorm a list of all the “Aussie” things you can think of that begin with that letter. (Or include that letter if you have an especially tricky letter like X or Z.)
Draw a circle the size of a $1 coin, then add your own design featuring some of the things you brainstormed. Tip: use a sharp pencil so that you can fit as much detail as possible.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts
You will need some $1 coins, digital scales and a ruler to complete this task.
What are the common features that all Australian $1 coins share?
Use scales to weigh a $1.00 coin – how much does it weigh?
Use a ruler to measure a $1.00 coin – what is its diameter?
Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics
Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.
Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.