The Royal Australian Mint, which handles the production of all of Australia’s circulating coinage, has a wonderful way of ringing in the New Year’s Day holiday. This annual celebration with the public is quickly becoming a tradition at the mint.
Each New Year’s Day, the Royal Australian Mint allows one lucky—or rather, determined—member of the public to strike its first coin of the year. Indeed, this is invariably the first coin struck anywhere in the world to start the calendar year.
First In the World
For at least the past five years, the mint has turned a clever marketing idea—striking the first coin of the year anywhere on the planet—into an exciting public event that encourages collector participation.
What coin enthusiast wouldn’t like the chance to strike an official legal tender coin themselves? On top of that, the first 100 people in line for the ceremony also receive a special collectible coin and certificate of authenticity that commemorates the New Year’s Day event. Although the coins only cost $3 for those who stick it out in line, the coveted “first coin of the year” is often sold for thousands of dollars.
Braving the Elements
The New Year’s Day promotion by the Royal Australian Mint is hardly for the faint of heart, however. These dedicated collectors sacrifice quite a bit for their shot at these brand new coins. They begin queueiing up and camping out well in advance of January 1st to secure their spot, exceeding even the legendary determination of Black Friday shoppers.
This year’s winner, a 16-year-old named Luke Marshall, arrived in line nearly a week in advance. Since Christmas Day, he had been camping outside of the mint in anticipation of this year’s promotion. He suffered a sunburn in the process. (Remember, it’s summertime in the Southern Hemisphere, where Australia is located.)
Mr. Marshall has been one of the first ten people in line in previous years, but this was the first time he was able to take the top prize. The same person, another teenage boy named Harley Russo, managed to nab the first spot in line each of the preceding four years from 2012 to 2015. In the time since Russo’s first success, strong demand has forced collectors to start lining up earlier and earlier in order to be one of the first hundred.
The design of this year’s “New Year’s Day” coin honors the centennial anniversary of the country’s Trans-Australian railway. What the coin will commemorate and look like is always withheld from public until the day of the striking. Here’s to another year of this exciting New Year’s tradition!
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