A new coin obsessive was minted this morning when six-year-old Henry McArthur drew his own winning ticket for the first pressing of the year.
The New Year’s Day event at the Royal Australian Mint typically draws numismatists [or coin collectors] from across the country, who camp out for days to claim one of the coins.
This year the mint chose to try out a raffle to stop the campouts, after last year’s winner ended up with sunburn for his dedication.
Fanatics still queued early this morning for one of 100 raffle tickets, which would then determine who got the coveted first coin.
Just as CEO Ross MacDiarmid was about to draw the raffle, he asked Henry to do the honour.
Henry handed his ticket to his father, then shocked himself as he drew his own number.
The boy was then guided into the mint, where he pressed his own one-dollar coin – the first one for 2018.
“It’s very special. This is our first time coming,” his mother Judith said.
“We’ve just moved from Kangaroo Island, so we thought we’d do something a bit Canberra, and come here and line up at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
Henry is new to coin collecting — the first coin of 2018 will be only the third coin in his collection.
He was too speechless to talk, but when his mum asked if it was a good chance to start collecting, he replied with an enthusiastic “yeah!”
“I can’t believe it,” he said.
Mr MacDiarmid was almost as surprised.
“That’s the story of the day isn’t it,” he said.
He said while the pressing of the first coin is a lot of fun, it is also a significant event for collectors.
“There are a lot of people who have been collecting coins for a long period of time and for them the first coin of the year actually is quite significant,” he said.
“It becomes a major collector’s item. It has huge ongoing value for the first coin of the year.
“And I think the attraction of both being the recipient of the first coin of the year and it being a collector’s masterpiece, if you like, actually makes it worthwhile, which is why people travel such long distances to be here.”
Mr MacDiarmid said despite a decline in demand for coins, the mint had a successful 2017, making just over $5 million in earnings.