'Endurance' subject of a new 50-penny coin in ship series
- Published: Mar 28, 2022, 9 AM
Just a few weeks after Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, was located, the Pobjoy Mint announced that the vessel was the latest subject of its series of 50-penny coins honoring historical vessels.
The coins are issued on behalf of the British Antarctic Territory to commemorate the centenary of the death of famous polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Already in the planning, the Pobjoy Mint accelerated the release of the coins to capitalize on the timing of the discovery.
Uncirculated copper-nickel and Proof .925 fine silver versions are being released. The coins share a design.
The reverse design features the Endurance, a three-masted barquentine in which Shackleton sailed for Antarctica on his 1914 to 1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
The Endurance was thought to be the ideal ship for an Antarctic Expedition, as it was designed with great inherent strength in its hull, hoped capable to resist damage from collision with ice floes and to break through pack ice by ramming and crushing, according to the Pobjoy Mint.
The ship was originally built in Norway for Adrien de Gerlache and Lars Christensen, who intended to use it for arctic polar cruises for tourists to hunt polar bears. However, financial trouble led to the sale of the ship to Shackleton.
An enduring legacy
The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition, is often considered to be the last major expedition of the “heroic age” of Antarctic exploration.
In 1914 Shackleton set his sights on being the first to traverse Antarctica. After a month-long stop at Grytviken whaling station, in South Georgia, the Endurance sailed into the Weddell Sea with the aim of landing the expedition party near Vahsel Bay, from where they would start their trans-Antarctic crossing.
Encountering difficult ice conditions, the Endurance became beset in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea, drifting north throughout the Antarctic winter before the ship was eventually crushed and sunk.
Its 28-man crew then spent months in makeshift camps on the ice, before they took to lifeboats to reach Elephant Island.
From there, Shackleton and five companions made their incredible 1,300-kilometer open-boat journey aboard the James Caird to King Haakon Bay, South Georgia.
After a short period of recuperation, Shackleton, Tom Crean and Frank Worsley crossed South Georgia on foot to Stromness whaling station, where they arrived on May 20.
Saving his men, finding the ship
Shackleton then began his ultimately successful efforts to rescue his men on Elephant Island. After four attempts in different vessels, Shackleton was able to rescue the waiting men, who were brought home aboard the Chilean steamer Yelcho without loss of life.
After being abandoned, Endurance eventually sank into the Weddell Sea, but the exact location was a mystery until March 5, 2022, when an expedition aboard SA Algulhas II (named Endurance22) finally located the ship intact and in good condition 107 years after it sank.
The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II produced exclusively by Pobjoy Mint.
Both coins weigh 8 grams and measure 27.3 millimeters in diameter.
The copper-nickel coin has a mintage limit of 2,750 pieces, and the Proof .925 fine silver version is limited to 175 pieces.
The copper-nickel version is presented in a colorful pack and retails for $19.95 each. The silver version is offered in an acrylic case and costs $69.95 each.
For more information, or to learn more, visit the Pobjoy Mint website, www.pobjoy.com.
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