Most Australians have never seen any other face on their coins than that of Queen Elizabeth II.
For decades, her image has been a small reminder of Australia’s connection to the royal family and its status as a constitutional monarchy.
But this connection to royalty and the need for physical currency in everyday life is weakening in the 21st century.
So, with a new monarch on the throne, what will happen to the money?
Why is the queen’s head on the silver?
Queens, kings and emperors have had their heads stamped on coins since ancient times.
But Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the money more than anyone else in history.
His face appeared on coins in 35 countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries.
His face also appears on banknotes, including the Australian $5 note and the now-defunct $1 note.
Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, appeared on the back of all Australian coins and banknotes – then pounds, shillings and pence.
A few months after her death in 1952, the Royal Mint Advisory Board launched a competition to design her daughter’s effigy for coins and banknotes in the UK and other countries, including Australia. .
Seventeen artists were invited to submit designs, and of these, two sculptors were chosen to have seances with the Queen.
They were Mary Gillick, 71, and Cecil Thomas, 67.
In the end, Gillick triumphed with his “fresh” and “approachable” rendering of the young monarch with a laurel wreath in his hair, instead of a crown on his head.
The new coins came out the following year, while those featuring King George VI slowly fell out of circulation.
How many times have they changed the queen’s face?
The Queen’s effigy was updated in 1966 when Australia switched to decimal currency and again in 1985 and 1998 to mark the progression of her reign. The most recent change is from 2019.
Each time it evolved, the artists added their own personal touches, changing the crowns, adding jewels and engravings in the wrinkles as the queen grew older.
1966 by Arnold Machin
1985 by Raphael Maklouf
1998 by Ian Rank-Broadley
2019 by Jody Clark
What happens to the head on the play now?
New coins will have to be designed with the effigy of King Charles III.
In line with past practice, Australian coins will use an effigy of the king provided by the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom.
However, there will be a slight difference – it will face left.
This is a tradition that dates back to the reign of Charles II in the 1600s, which dictates that each new king or queen must alternate the direction of their gaze.
Charles III should be on the coins in 2023
In recent months, the Australian Treasury has worked with the Royal Australian Mint and the Perth Mint to plan the change of effigy on Australian coins.
The transition to Australian coins minted with the likeness of King Charles III is expected to occur gradually in the coming period.
And the Royal Australian Mint expects Charles III to be on coins in 2023.
But as the transition may take some time, coins featuring the late queen may continue to be minted.
As existing coins bearing the late Queen are legal tender, coins bearing the likeness of either sovereign will mingle in circulation.
And the $5 bill?
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) says it is traditional for the monarch to appear on the lowest denomination of Australian banknotes.
This was not always the case – King George VI was in fact featured on all Australian banknotes during his reign.
But after his death, it was decided that it was easier for the monarch to only appear on one.
After the Queen’s death, the RBA released a statement saying there would be “no immediate changes” to Australian banknotes.
And you don’t have to worry about losing your hard-earned money.
The RBA claims that all Australian banknotes issued from 1913 onwards remain legal tender.
“The $5 notes bearing the likeness of Her Majesty The Queen may continue to be used,” the RBA statement read.
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