Endurance was the name of the ship used by explorer Ernest
Shackleton, and it was endurance — human fortitude — that kept alive
him and 28 other Trans-Atlantic Expedition members on their ultimately
unsuccessful 19-month journey.
The Pobjoy Mint has released two non-circulating legal tender
commemorative £2 coins marking the 100th Anniversary of the start of
the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the
Endurance Expedition. One coin is issued on behalf of British
Antarctic Territory while the other is released on behalf of South
Georgia & South Sandwich Islands.
The expedition is considered the last major expedition of the age of
Conceived by Sir Ernest Shackleton, the expedition was an attempt to
make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. Shackleton
proposed to sail in his ship Endurance to the Weddell Sea and
to land a shore party near Vahsel Bay, in preparation for a
transcontinental march through the South Pole to the Ross Sea.
Shackleton and crew set sail from London on Aug. 1, 1914, headed to
Argentina, where they departed on Oct. 26 for South Georgia.
The SS Endurance became trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea
and, despite efforts to free it, drifted northward held in the pack
ice throughout the Antarctic winter of 1915. Eventually the ship was
crushed and sank, stranding the crew on the ice.
After months spent in makeshift camps, the party used lifeboats to
reach the uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton and five others then
made an 800-mile open boat journey back to South Georgia and from
there were able to mount a rescue of the remaining men on Elephant
Island and bring them home without loss of life. A complete timeline
can be viewed here and here.
To commemorate the start of this expedition, the first coin, on
behalf of British Antarctic Territory, depicts the SS Endurance
departing British waters with an inset cameo of Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The second coin, issued on behalf of South Georgia & South
Sandwich Islands (the modern name of the entity that includes South
Georgia), shows the Endurance at Grytviken, South Georgia, and
also includes a cameo of Shackleton.
Both coins are available in copper-nickel and Proof .925 fine
[sterling] silver and bear the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen
Elizabeth II on the obverse.
Both Uncirculated and Proof versions weigh 28.28 grams and measure
38.6 millimeters in diameter.
The copper-nickel coins have an unlimited mintage, and the silver
coins are limited to 10,000 pieces per design.
Copper-nickel versions are $16.95 each and silver versions are $89 each.
For more information, or to order these coins, visit the Pobjoy website.