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Image of King Charles on Australian coins unveiled

An effigy of King Charles III is ready to circulate on Australian coins, starting with the $1 coin later this year.

A prototype of the new coin is seen at an event for the release of new Australian currency featuring the effigy of effigy of King Charles III, at The Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, Thursday, October 5, 2023. Image AAP

After more than 70 years with the image of a Queen, Australian cash is now King.


The Royal Australian Mint on Thursday unveiled the effigy of King Charles III, which will be seen on Australian coins by Christmas.


The first coin to bear the effigy will be the dollar, with other denominations to be rolled out progressively in 2024, based on demand from banks.


The image of King Charles III is the official Commonwealth effigy and was designed by the Royal Mint in London and given royal approval.


In line with tradition, King Charles will appear on coins facing left, in an about-face from the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II who faced right.


Much like the Queen's first image on Australian coins, King Charles's first appearance on currency does not feature him wearing a crown.


More than 10 million $1 coins bearing the King's image will be distributed by the Mint as part of the first round of circulation.


Royal Australian Mint chief executive Leigh Gordon said while it had taken more than 12 months to get the design finalised, multiple tests had to be carried out.


"We were very respectful of the process and we didn't want to jump the gun.


We also wanted to allow the British Royal Mint which to be in a position where it had an effigy to be able to release to the Commonwealth nations," he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.


"We want to get it right, these coins will last for 30 years or more depending on the usage, so we need to get it right."


Mr Gordon said the number of coins issued as part of the first circulation was slightly lower than the normal amount of $1 coins issued annually.


"There's certainly a lot going out in a small amount of time between now and Christmas," he said.


The Mint will carry out final checks on the coins as the currency goes into mass production.


Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh said for many Australians it would be the first time they've seen a different face on the currency.


"Since 1953, every Australian coin has borne a Queen, that's been true since decimal currency came into effect in 1966," he said.


"For most Australians, this will be the first time they have held in their hands a coin with a King."


Collectible coins bearing King Charles III will be on sale from early next year.

All coins carrying the image of Queen Elizabeth will still be able to be used as legal currency.


"(Coins with the Queen) will continue to be in circulation for many years to come, so Australians will be spending coins with Queen Elizabeth's face for decades," Dr Leigh said.


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