The Royal Australian Mint has unveiled (5th October) the effigy of HM King Charles III, which will be used on Australian circulation and collector coinage commencing from the end of this year. Designed by the Royal Mint in London with the King’s approval, the effigy is now the official Commonwealth portrait which will be available for use to all members of the Commonwealth and British territories authorised to use the image of the British sovereign on their national coinage. The effigy was unveiled at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra in the presence of the Chief Executive Leigh Gordon and Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh, with national media in attendance.
The process of replacing the late Queen Elizabeth II on Australian coinage was undertaken weeks after her death in September 2022. Coinage bearing the likeness of the Queen was first released in 1953, which included coins minted from the half penny to two shilling denominations. Since 1966 when decimal coins were introduced, the Royal Australian Mint have minted more than 15.5 billion coins of various denominations from one cent to two dollars. These coins remain legal tender; the one and two-cent coins have since been removed from circulation in 1992.
Over the last seventy years since 1953, a total of six effigies of the Queen have appeared on the obverse side of Australian coins. Previous effigies were designed by Mary Gillick (1953), Arnold Machin (1966), Raphael Maklouf (1985), and Ian Rank-Broadley (1998). In 2000, Royal Australian Mint designer Vladimir Gottwald’s effigy was used on the 2000 50-cent commemorative coin marking the Queen’s royal visit. The most recent effigy of Her Majesty, designed by Jody Clark, was the sixth effigy to appear on Australian coinage. This Commonwealth effigy has been used since 2019. After the Queen’s death, a memorial obverse comprising the years of the Queen’s reign 1952 – 2022 was added to the text surrounding her likeness.
The new effigy is the work of Royal Mint designer and engraver Dan Thorne. His portrait features a head and shoulders effigy of HM King Charles III facing to the left, as is tradition with succeeding images of the monarch that are portrayed facing in the opposite direction. Since the death of the Queen and the accession of HM King Charles III in September 2022, the Royal Australian Mint’s chief executive, Leigh Gordon, said the question of when the king would be seen on Australian coins had been a frequent one since his mother’s death. Australia’s assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh commented during the unveiling that for many Australians, this change reflects the first time many Australians will see a different face on their currency.
The Royal Mint has confirmed the first denomination to include the new effigy will be the golden-colour one-dollar coins; other denominations will be minted from 2024 and will be based on demand reported from commercial banks. The Royal Australian Mint has confirmed they plan to produce about ten million one-dollar coins in time for general circulation by Christmas. Collectible coins bearing King Charles III will also be on sale from early next year. For additional information, please visit the website of the Royal Australian Mint.