Australia’s oldest airline Qantas has been featured on a $1 coin to celebrate its centenary, with people queuing up at the Royal Australian Mint on Monday to snap up the new addition.
The Mint hosted a pop-up stall where keen coin collectors were among the first to swap their cash for the freshly-minted circulating coins.
The Mint’s general manager of sales, marketing and distribution, Mark Cartwright, said similar coin swaps were held in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The coin will be legal tender and people should start seeing it straight away.
“Beyond Qantas being an iconic Australian organisation, we’re really looking back at 100 years of aviation,” Mr Cartwright told Region Media.
“Qantas was one of the pioneers so we look at how society has changed and really benefitted a big country by opening up aviation and tourism and trade, firstly across Australia and then to the rest of the world.”
A team of designers at the Mint worked with Qantas to design the coin that features a depiction of a plane flying through the number 100.
The plane is a stylised Boeing Dreamliner, the newest addition to the Qantas fleet. The decorative line pattern on the number 100 emulates fingerprints, signifying that Qantas is a part of Australia’s national identity.
Mr Cartwright said the design is a reasonably simple one that will withstand the rigours of circulation, while there is a range of special coins that includes a set of coloured $1 coins that comes in a jet engine-shaped tin and tells the story of Qantas in Australia. There is also a gold plated 1 kg version that will be a very limited edition release.
“Circulating coins are designed to be made in high volumes, so we’re going to see five million of these coins go into circulation. This one is striking in its simplicity and also shows the impact that Qantas has had on so many lives over the years,” he said.
“We know that about one-in-four Australians collect coins, so for us it’s important that people can come and grab these freshly minted Qantas coins.”
One of those to line up early was coin collector Julie Camilleri, who had travelled from the Riverina area near Wagga Wagga to get the coins for herself and friends.
Ms Camilleri has been collecting coins for more than 25 years and said the design will become part of her collection, which contains coins worth many thousands of dollars.
“I really like the design,” she said. “It’s got some intricate detailing but they haven’t overdone it, they’ve kept it simple and it gets the message about exactly what the coin is for.”
Ms Camilleri said she loves how collecting coins helps bring people together.
“It’s great seeing parents bringing their kids along and showing them about coins in a way which is being lost to the cashless society
“Last year, we lost all communications in our town for a day or so, and we had no mobile service and the ATMs didn’t work, so we had to just make sure we had cash like the old days.”
However, Ms Camilleri said there are plenty of coins in her collection that she will never part with, including a 2012 Red Poppy roll of coins and a mob of kangaroos $1 coin with an error from when the coin was struck using a 10-cent die, which can be identified by the wide double rim. Ms Camilleri found the coin in loose change. It is now estimated to be worth more than $1000.