Belgium celebrates the centennial of the first successful
expedition to the South Pole, by explorer Roald Amundsen, on new Proof
silver €10 coins.
“The last of the Vikings,” as he liked to be known, Amundsen was a
polar explorer from Norway. He led the first expedition to the South
Pole, from 1910 to 1912.
Amundsen began planning an expedition to cross the Arctic Ocean in
1909 aboard the Fram, intending that the ship be encased in ice for
the expedition. The Norwegian public anticipated that during this trip
Amundsen would attempt to become the first to reach the North Pole. He
was emulating his hero Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer and
scientist who crossed Greenland in the 1880s and attempted to reach
the North Pole in the 1890s.
According to the Fram Museum in Norway, public support for
Amundsen’s Arctic Ocean journey waned after two other explorers
claimed to have become the first to reach the North Pole. Amundsen
then began secretly planning for a new destination for his expedition
— the South Pole. “Amundsen even kept his plans for a South Pole
expedition a secret from officials within the Norwegian government,”
according to PBS.org.
When the Fram left Norway in June 1910, most thought the Arctic
expedition was still active; the official plan called for the
explorers to sail around Cape Horn, and continue north through the
Pacific Ocean before entering the Arctic Ocean through Bering Strait
in the summer of 1911. Instead, at Funchal, Madeira, Portugal,
Amundsen announced that he was heading for the South Pole, according
to the Fram Museum.
The expedition reached the Bay of Whales, on Antarctica’s Ross Ice
Shelf on Oct. 18, 1911, and departed over land to the South Pole,
which was reached Dec. 14, 1911. The Amundsen expedition beat Capt.
Robert F. Scott’s British team, which arrived at the South Pole on
Jan. 18, 1912.
In 1926, Amundsen would fly over the North Pole in an airship and
thus became the first explorer to travel to both the North and South
poles, and was also the first to traverse the Northwest Passage.
Amundsen disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue
mission in the Arctic.
The obverse of the coin depicts a portrait of Amundsen to the
right. Above and to the left is a map of Antarctica, with meridians
and circles of latitude displayed, while five sled dogs and a musher
appear below and to the left.
The reverse depicts a map of the European Union, 12 stars, the
coin denomination, year of issue and the name of Belgium in the
country’s three official languages: Dutch, French and German.
The Proof .925 fine silver coin weighs 18.75 grams, measures 33
millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 15,000 pieces.
It costs $89.75 from distributor the Coin & Currency
Institute. To order, write to the firm at P.O. Box 399, Williston, VT
05495, telephone the business at (802) 878-0822, call it toll free at
(800) 421-1866 or fax it at (802) 536-4787. Visit www.coin-currency.com or
direct email for the company to email@example.com. ■