The Royal Australian Mint has a wonderful standing tradition in the new year to allow members of the public and collectors to mint the first coins of that year, and this year was no exception as 100 lucky coin collectors were able to do just that.
The coin in question is the new Trans-Australian Railway Centenary one dollar coin, commemorating one hundred years since the completion of the Trans-Australian railway. Royal Australian Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid commented that the chose to celebrate the Trans-Australian railways as a theme due to it's singular importance in uniting a then divided Australia, and allowing it to become the modern country it is today.
During the launch of the event he had the following comments regarding the centenary celebrations as well as the mint's annual new year's traditions:
“One hundred years ago the wide brown land of Australia was a spectacular, but impassable, terrain – the east and west was divided - but then a 1698 kilometre track was opened, stretching from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, crossing the scorched Nullarbor Plain, since then, freight, mail and passengers have all been carried across the railway line with journeys ranging from practical and functional to whimsical and extravagant.”
said Mr MacDiarmid
“It is important for Australians to celebrate the infrastructure that assisted in our country’s advancement through the 1900s, resulting in Australia becoming a more united and progressive nation - the Trans-Australian Railway did just this.”
“As is the case each year, a certificate will be provided to the first 100 people in the queue authenticating that they were amongst the first people worldwide to strike a coin in 2017. For many of our collectors and the general public, this is a memento of great personal value. The most envied position for collectors is that of the fortunate person to be at the front of the line on New Year’s Day who has the rare opportunity to strike the very first coin in the entire world for 2017, taking home a one of a kind coin set to be treasured for years to come.”
The lucky person who was first in line not only received the honour of minting the first ever coin of 2017, but also received a once-off coin set that includes the coins from the mintmark and privy mark set as well as the fine silver proof version, this accompanied by certificate number 1.
Apart from the very special Canberra Visitor Press coin described above, which can only be obtained by visiting the Canberra mint premises, there are also silver and gold versions available of the same design.
Firstly though the design is available in the 2017 Centenary of the Australian Railways mintmark and privy mark set. The set contains four uncirculated one dollar coins, struck from Aluminium-Bronze. The four coins in the set share the same design but have differing mint and privy marks on each. The first coin bears the Canberra mintmark of “C”. The remaining three coins each bear a different privy mark in the form of a “B”, “M” or “S” for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney respectively.
The set has a limited mintage of 15000 units and is retailing for around AU$25.00(US$18.50) each.
The reverse design of the Trans-Australian Railways Centenary design features a stylised version of the G Class locomotive and accompanying carriages that were used on that original journey one hundred years ago. The words “Commonwealth Railways” finely etched into the side of the passenger cars. The train symbolically cuts the coin into two halves, with the lower half depicting clean fields with railroad tracks connecting each end around the rim. The words “TRANS-AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY CENTENARY” as well as the “C” mintmark for the Canberra Mint appear on this lower section.
The upper half in turn in filled with the billowing smoke of the G-class steam locomotive, set against the backdrop of a hostile and endless Australian landscape with the rising sun coming from the east.
The obverse is the standard obverse coin design from the Royal Australian Mint depicting the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II, facing right. The legend describes the ruler, country and date of issue along the rim. The the denomination is listed at the bottom, separated from the rest of the legend by a sing dot at either end. (“ELIZABETH II”, “AUSTRALIA”, “2017” and “1 DOLLAR”)
The two remaining coins in the series is a pure silver, .999 Fineness, one dollar coin measuring 25mm(.9842 inch) and weighing in at 11.66grams(0.411 oz). This silver coin is issued in a black clamshell display case with a certificate of authenticity. A limited mintage of 4500 coins have been minted in a proof finish only. The silver coin is released at AU$50.00(US$36.70) and can be ordered directly from the Mint's web store.
Finally we have the ten dollar denominated 1/10oz pure gold coin, struck from 9999 Fineness gold to a proof finish. The 17.53mm(0.69 inch) coin is similarly issued in a black clamshell presentation case with black and gold lining, along with a certificate of authenticity. This coin has a limited mintage of 1000 coins and is available at a price of AU$300.00(US$220) each.
The Mintmark and Privy mark set, the silver one dollar as well as the gold ten dollar coins can be ordered directly from the Royal Australian Mint's website, or you can contact your trusted international coin dealer for assistance if you would like to add any of these coins to your collection.
In my opinion this is not a bad way to start the numismatic year in 2017. The design is crisp and to the point, presenting a very attractive coin regardless of the metal it is struck from. I'd expect these coins to sell out at the mint without too much effort.