THERE was no birthday cake in sight, but a hearty round of “Happy Birthday, dear $2 coin” was heard echoing around the Royal Australian Mint this morning (June 20) as staff and media gathered to mark the coin’s 30th birthday.
To celebrate, the Mint and its CEO Ross MacDiarmid invited media on to the factory floor to see two-dollar coins being produced from start to finish, with a Scrooge McDuck moment where journos and staff alike could dip their hand into a huge, shining barrel of money.
Alas, the tight security was even tighter at the exit and there were no free samples to be had.
Journalists in attendance discovered that the Mint has produced about 864 million $2 coins since 1988 and can produce up to 200,000 two-dollar coins per machine per day. The two-dollar coin is made from 92 per cent copper, 6 per cent aluminium and 2 per cent nickel.
Mr MacDiarmid, standing by a small display of the original plaster and other historical objects used to make the first two-dollar coins, told those present that that first coin had been “pressed” back in 1988 by veteran staffer Kerry Daniels.
The design by Horst Hahne, he said, had been inspired by an Ainslie Roberts drawing of Gwoya Jungarai, fulfilling the stipulation that the design depict an Aboriginal elder, the Southern Cross and native flora.
He also spoke of the Mint’s relatively recent foray into colour, introduced into the coins’ grooves, as in the 2012 coloured ‘poppy’ coin.
Mr MacDiarmid told “CityNews” that the $2, which predated most such higher denomination coinage around the world, had been necessary because of the poor longevity of the popular $2 note (six months to five years) – a coin could be expected to last 25 to 40 years.
He noted that Australia’s copper 1c, 2c and 5c coins were still in circulation but would probably, in time, die a natural death.
Of Hahne’s design he said: “It’s amazing what you can get on a small coin,” praising the beauty of the design, in which he said the indigenous elder was “very proud-looking.”