World Coins

This Day in History: March 29

Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, who died on March 29, 1912 in the Antarctic, earned this medal for the successful Discovery Expedition of 1901 to 1904.

Medal images courtesy of the Royal Maritime Museum.

Capt. Robert Falcon Scott was an intrepid polar explorer, one of the handful of heroes venerated for their daring adventures at either the North or South Pole.

Scott died on March 29, 1912, during the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition of 1910 to 1913, on the way home from the South Pole.

Scott and his party of five reached the South Pole Jan. 17, 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition. 

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Their journey proved perilous. Though the explorers did discover evidence that Antarctica was once forested, some 150 miles from base camp and a mere 11 miles from the next depot Scott and his companions died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.

That was the fateful end to a life that included a career in the English Royal Navy and a successful expedition to the Antarctic nearly a decade prior, in the Discovery Expedition of 1901 to 1904. During the earlier venture, Scott set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S and discovered the Polar Plateau, on which the South Pole is located. 

This feat earned Scott and other members the Royal Geographical Society Medal.

The medal’s obverse shows Scott on the obverse with inscriptions related to the expedition. The reverse shows the explorer in Antarctic dress standing in front of a sledge being packed by a kneeling figure, SS Discovery in the ice and a sledge party in the distance.

Scott was honored in similar fashion by numerous organizations, and a rich if rare numismatic legacy recalls the Age of Explorers.

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