Australia 50 Years Of Decimal

Australia 50 Years Of Decimal
On St. Valentine's Day 1966, Australia "went decimal." The imperial-based coins and notes that had served the country since federation at the turn of the century were swept aside. They were replaced by new Australian dollars and cents. The two existing Australian mints have contributed coins to mark the 50th anniversary.

The Royal Australian Mint in Canberra has struck both BU and proof six-coin sets. The reverses of the 5¢, 10¢,20¢, 50¢, $1, and $2 show the familiar designs of the current Australian coins by Dr. Stuart Devlin and Horst Hahne.

Each obverse features a reduced version of Ian Rank-Broadley's effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth along with a depiction of one of the pre-decimal coins. The 5¢ shows the penny's kangaroo, 10¢ the three pence's sheaves of wheat, 20¢ the sixpence's coat-of-arms,50¢ Uardry 0.1's Merino ram's head, $1 the florin's coat-of-arms, and $2 the crown's crown.

No £sd denominations are shown on the pre-decimal images, presumably to avoid confusing those born post-1966. The BU set has a mintage of 100,000; the proof set 50,000. From the Perth Mint come two 40.60 mm, 32.135 g .999 fine silver proof dollars. The reverses show Devlin's designs that featured on the 1966 1 cent and 2 cent coins: a feathertail glider and a frilled-neck lizard. Both dollars are being sold as a set with a mintage of 2,000.

At the time of the changeover, Perth Mint, Melbourne Mint, and London's Royal Mint were instrumental in striking the required coins, along with the new Canberra mint. Both Perth and Melbourne were then still branches of the Royal Mint.

The coins struck by mints other than Canberra all show modifications of Devlin's reverse designs by way of privy marks. These include blunting of the glider's whiskers and of the lizard's claws on the one cent and two cents coins. These are evident on the designs used by Perth for the commemorative silver coins.

The five cent piece will be withdrawn from circulation or die out naturally very soon, according to the Royal Australian Mint and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Alex Hawke. The demise of the country's smallest coin will come about due to its increasing irrelevance but despite the economic argument against it - the high cost of production - easing with lower commodity prices. Confirmation of the impending doom comes as the Royal Australian Mint celebrates 50 years of decimal currency with commemorative coins and a new book, Inside the Vault by Peter Rees.

Ross MacDiarmid, chief executive of the Royal Australian Mint, expects it to "die of its own accord" thanks to its uselessness without any need to officially withdraw it from circulation. On the basis of current demand for the five cent piece, our forecast is that it's likely to drop off our production requirements in the next five to 10 years," he said. 58.2 million were minted in 2014, compared with 145.3 million a decade earlier. Alex Hawke, Australia's Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, says "inevitable forces are work" that are likely to see the country's five cent coin die out

Alex Hawke, Australia's Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, says "inevitable forces are work" that are likely to see the country's five cent coin die out. But the little echidna-clad coin battles on and its downfall has been prematurely mooted in 2009 and again in 2011. It survived a 2015 review and the cost of producing each one has almost returned to parity with its face value - thanks to plummeting copper and nickel prices - after climbing to seven cents last year.

With the rise of cashless payments, the future of hard cash is uncertain. The Mint has seen a 25 per cent decline in demand for coins over the last three years (but with a slight and mysterious upturn in the last year), according to MacDiarmid. About 5 billion coins and $1.3 billion banknotes are in circulation in Australia and the chief of the Mint surmises that people still appreciate the security, trustworthiness and anonymity of cash and transacting with it. While consumers and retailers are mostly on board with getting rid of the smallest denomination, many charities appreciate it.

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