One hundred years ago, the Panama Canal opened, cutting shipping time
drastically between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and
revolutionizing global commerce.
The Helvetic Mint, a private Swiss-based company, has announced a
new Prooflike 2014 .999 fine silver coin for Niue to celebrate the
anniversary. The coin, which weighs 50 grams and measures 50
millimeters in diameter, features a colorful printed scene of a ship
(possibly the SS Ancon, the first vessel to officially
traverse the canal).
Below the scene is a stylized image of the obverse of French artist
Louis Oscar Roty’s medal honoring the completion of the canal. Palm
leaves, shells and other nautical elements, and the inscription 100
YEARS PANAMA CANAL complete the reverse design.
The obverse features the Raphael Maklouf effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Panama Canal is a 48-mile-long (77.1-kilometer) ship canal in
Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the
Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a
key conduit for international maritime trade.
One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever
undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the amount of
time taken for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific
oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route
around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or
Strait of Magellan.
In 1877 two engineers, Armand Reclus (an officer with the French
Navy), and Lucien Napoléon Bonaparte Wyse, surveyed the route and
published a French proposal for a canal. In 1881, the first attempt to
construct a sea-level canal began under the leadership of Ferdinand de
Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, but had to stop because of
engineering problems and high mortality due to disease.
The United States took over the project in 1904, and took a decade
to complete the canal, which was officially opened on Aug. 15, 1914
The Prooflike coin has a mintage limited to 500 pieces and retails
for €129.95 (about $174 in U.S. funds).
No U.S. distributor was established at publication time.
To order from the issuer, telephone the Helvetic Mint at (011) 41
41349 20 13 or visit its website.