Cook Islands honors namesake on three silver coins
- Published: Dec 21, 2017, 10 AM
Famous explorer Capt. James Cook left an indelible impression on the globe, exploring lands all over the Pacific Ocean.
One such place is a chain of 15 islands in the South Pacific that takes his name: the Cook Islands.
The Cook Islands, in cooperation with Downies, has issued a set of three 1-ounce silver $5 coins honoring its namesake.
The 2018 coins commemorate the 250th anniversary of the voyage that placed Cook in the history books.
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James Cook’s first notable efforts are the detailed maps he created of Newfoundland (part of modern-day Canada).
Following that triumph, Cook made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.
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Cook was largely unknown when appointed to command the HMS Bark Endeavour on an expedition to the Pacific in 1768, the first of those three voyages.
The stated objective of the first mission was to sail to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus — but that was only part of the story. Cook also received some additional, secret orders: find the fabled Great South Land.
With Cook’s astronomical observations complete in 1769, he set sail for home. His ship needed repairs, so he stayed close to the coastline — Australia’s coastline.
Cook and his party subsequently claimed the east coast for Britain, charting 2,000 miles of the continent in the process.
Cook would die in Hawaii in 1779, during an ill-advised attempt to capture a native chief as a negotiating tool in a dispute over a stolen small boat, on his third voyage.
Many places in the South Pacific are named for Cook, or feature memorials to the explorer.
The ultra high relief Proof coins feature a common obverse, depicting the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II surrounded by a nautical compass design.
The reverses of the three coins each depict a different scene: Cook against a map of New Zealand and Australia; the Endeavour ship he used to navigate the seas; and Cook gazing into the sky against a Pacific Ocean scene.
Each $5 coin measures 38.6 millimeters in diameter.
The coins are available only in a set. All coins are presented within a case, set in an illustrated outer box, and accompanied by an individually serial-numbered certificate of authenticity.
The set has an edition limit of 500 and retails for $449 Australian from Downies.
To order, visit the distributor’s website.
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