Coin enthusiasts travel across the country for the Royal Australian Mint’s coin swap

Coin enthusiasts travel across the country for the Royal Australian Mint’s coin swap
  • PublishedJune 2, 2024

Using cash to pay for goods and services might be becoming increasingly less popular but that certainly isn’t dampening the enthusiasm of coin collectors. 

This weekend, it’s the Royal Australian Mint’s Canberra Coin Swap which is drawing collectors, known as numismatists, to the national capital. 

Attendees bring along cash and coins and swap them for circulating coloured and commemorative coins which have, until now, been uncirculated.

Some of the coins, which are being stored in the mint’s sealed bags in so-called “mint condition”, are highly sought after. 

And with this being first time the event has been held since the pandemic, there’s plenty of pent up demand. 

Shiny silver coins on display inside the Mint with an effigy of King Charles III on the back.
Royal Australian Mint CEO Leigh Gordon(ABC News: Donal Sheil)

Coins tell stories of historical events

CEO of the Royal Australian Mint Leigh Gordon said this coin swap was focused on recently-produced coins from the “last few years”.

That includes those with the effigy of King Charles as well as coins commemorating the hard work of first responders including firefighters. 

The premise of the swap is simple. 

“It’s a coin swap, so it’s cash for cash,” he said. 

“You give us 10 dollars cash and you get 10 dollars worth of coins.”

But Ms Gordon said there are specific coins which stand out.

“There’s a variety of stories that really strike a chord with people. We do some military coins; we do some other society-based coins,” he said.

“Certainly, there’s an opportunity for people to grab a memento for an event that they mightn’t really be able to get to themselves.”

This year, coins on offer to the public included ones which commemorate parts of military history, including the 75th anniversary of WWII and Indigenous military service. 

To Mr Gordon’s surprise, a Qantas coin from a few years ago has been in high demand as well.

While cash use goes down — demand for coins has gone up 

Despite the pandemic having impacted coin and cash usage in Australia and globally — numismatists’ love for coins is only increasing. 

Mr Gordon said almost a quarter of Australians would call themselves a coin collector.

“[People] queued up outside in the rain before we started on Friday morning. I think they queued up from 6 am and the doors didn’t open until 10am,” he explained. 

Many collectors actively sought out specific coins to complete their collection, Mr Gordon said. 

One of those was Kelly, who travelled to Canberra from the Central Coast in New South Wales in an attempt to keep working on her set. 

For her, the passion for coin collecting was passed on from her great-grandparents and grandparents and she’s now the guardian of their collection. 

“When [my great-grandparents] first came to Australia from Germany, they got Australian pennies and then we had old Germany money,” she said.

“We’ve just been collecting ever since.”

Kelly’s coin collection is pretty robust. 

She’s got every coin but two since Australia switched to decimal currency in 1966. 

What she needs is the 2011 10 cent coin and a 1995 United Nations’ remembrance coin while she’s also keen to pick up some currency with King Charles on it. 

Newer collectors also getting involved

dad holding a baby playing with a phone and his young son standing up
Farhat and his family are new to the coin collecting game but it’s quickly becoming a passion.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

Farhat and his family also travelled to the exhibition from Adelaide, and while he considers himself to be quite new to the coin community — it’s become a hobby for the whole family to enjoy. 

“My daughter, she’s just 11 years old, but she knows all the names and the history as well … she even knows more than me now,” he said.

He described coin collecting as a harmless hobby, and one which could even breed future investments.

“I’m just trying to keep [the coins] for my kids … in the future, it might give them good money,” he said. 


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