World Coins

Tribute to warship offered as next coin in Pobjoy series

The HMS “Astrea” is featured on the third coin in the Pobjoy Mint’s series of $1 virenium coins for the British Virgin Islands.

All images courtesy of the Pobjoy Mint.

The third in the series of $1 coins featuring ships connected to the British Virgin Islands is now available from the Pobjoy Mint.

The new virenium dollar features the HMS Astrea, a 32-gun frigate of the British Royal Navy.

Originally named The Pelican, the full rigged-ship was launched in 1781, more than 240 years ago, and is famously known for its participation in the American War of Independence and Napoleonic Wars.

A ship’s story

HMS Astrea (or Astraea) was built at East Cowes, Isle of Wight. After having been rigged and fitted out, the ship was commissioned in Portsmouth on Oct. 1, 1781.

A total of 220 men and officers made up its roster, and it was finally ready to serve in the Royal Navy.

HMS Astrea had not been in commission long when the ship saw its first action.

The American War of Independence was still lingering on, and in its wake hostilities broke out between Britain and the major powers on the continent.

In December 1782, Astrea played a relatively minor role alongside a small British fleet in the fight and subsequent capture of the 40-gun American frigate South Carolina.

Its first real triumph happened somewhat later, when on April 10, 1795, it captured the larger 42-gun French frigate La Glorie during war with France.

At the time HMS Astrea was commanded by Captain Lord Henry Paulet and carried a crew of 212 men, whereas La Glorie carried a crew of 280 men.

The first gun was fired at sunset and only after a long and severe battle did the French frigate strike its colors just before midnight.

In 1796, Astrea was dispatched to the West Indies with a large convoy where it eventually participated in the capture of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada from the French. Shortly thereafter, the greater part of the British fleet was withdrawn altogether from this part of the world.

In 1808, commanded by Capt. Edmund Heywood, Astrea escorted the mail packet ship Prince Earnest past the danger of Caribbean privateers. Heywood, thinking that Anegada was Puerto Rico, wrecked upon the deadly horseshoe reef on March 23.

Design, specifications

The reverse of the coin shows a side profile of the ship at sea.

The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II produced exclusively by Pobjoy Mint.

The coin is struck in virenium, a base metal alloy developed by Pobjoy Mint, that is light gold in color.

This coin will be presented in a Pobjoy Mint presentation pouch, with a special collector’s album to house all coins in this series available for additional purchase.

The coin weighs 8 grams and measures 28.4 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 1,950 pieces that retail for $14.95 each.

To order, visit the Pobjoy Mint website,

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