Royal Mint makes major change to ‘much loved’ coin tradition

For the first time in history, Australians all around the nation will have the opportunity to score themselves the last coins made in 2020 and first coins made in 2021.

The Last and First Coins of the Year are yearly events held on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to celebrate the last and first coins that are pressed by the Royal Australian Mint.

The event is typically held onsite at the Canberra-based Mint, and in previous years, long queues of avid coin collectors form outside the Mint – with some camping overnight – for a shot at scoring one of the coins.

For more than a decade now, Aussies have lined up on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for a chance to press the first or last coins of the year. Only 10 winners are chosen for the last coins of the year, while 100 winners get to press the first coins of the year.

Up until nearly three years ago, the winners were simply handed out to the first 10 or first 100 people in line, but the Mint changed this to a raffle system in 2018 after the previous year’s winner copped sunburn for his efforts.

However, because of Covid-19 restrictions, the event will now be moved online, giving all Aussies a chance to be part of the ballot draw.

“We have celebrated the First Coin of the Year for over a decade. It has become a much loved tradition for people young and old, from across Australia,” said Royal Australian Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid.

“This event is especially significant because not only is it the first coin in Australia, but also in the world.”

“While we will miss seeing the familiar faces and long lines at the Mint, it was important for us to continue this tradition in a way that kept our visitors and staff safe.”

There will be 10 Last coins and 100 First Coins up for grabs. Winners will be announced on 4 December on the Royal Australian Mint website and its Facebook page.

How to enter the draw

You’ll have to create an account with the Royal Australian Mint, so if you haven’t done that, sign up at their website here.

Registrations for both the Last and First Coins of the Year will open at 8:30am AEDT on 19 November.

But don’t sit on it for too long, because registration will close on 11:59pm AEDT 1 December.

Only Australian domestic customers will be allowed to enter the ballot, and you’ll get one ballet entry per customer.

Ballots will be drawn on 4 December, and both successful and unsuccessful ballot winners will be notified on 8 December.

The coins will then be shipped on 7 January.

Mixed emotions about digital event

While Aussies loved the idea of opening the ballot up to all Aussies, they also lamented that the digital event meant their chances of scoring a coin greatly decreased.

“We missed out this year due to the bushfires and having to stay to defend our house. Last year my daughter was very excited to get the second coin of the year and my son the fourth back in 2018,” said one Facebook user.

“It will be a pity the kids can’t get their own coins this year as there is only one per account but I think it is a fairer option given the circumstances.”

“I think it is a great opportunity for those who don’t live near the mint the chance to be in the running,” said another. “Another great initiative, well done guys,” one other user commented.

Another said: “I do love this idea although I think it decreases my chances even further . It also opens up for those trying to profiteer as they don’t have to put any effort in to get one.

“I enjoyed the excitement of the day lining up talking to other excited collectors and hoping to get one.”


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