World Coins

Pobjoy Mint celebrates Shackleton’s Endurance expedition on coins

The Pobjoy Mint’s latest collector coin is being issued to celebrate a theme with significance to the coin issuer.

British Antarctic Territory is the issuer of the 2015 copper-nickel and silver £2 coins marking the centennial of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914 to 1917. Also known as the Endurance Expedition (for the ship used during the effort), it was the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Sir Ernest Shackleton led the attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. And though the expedition did not achieve this objective, it became recognized instead as an epic feat of endurance.

Shackleton’s plan was to sail in Endurance to the Weddell Sea and land a shore party near Vahsel Bay in preparation for a transcontinental march through the South Pole to the Ross Sea.

The expedition set sail in 1914, but Endurance became caught in the ice of the Weddell Sea. Despite all efforts to free it, the ship drifted, held in the pack ice, throughout the Antarctic winter of 1915. Eventually the ship was crushed by the thickening ice and sank, stranding the crew on the ice. 

After months in makeshift camps, the crew used lifeboats to reach the uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton and five other crew members then made an open boat journey of 800 miles to South Georgia from where they were able to mount a rescue of the remaining men and bring them home without loss of life.

The British Antarctic Territory is the largest British Overseas Territory, and has been under United Kingdom control since a letters patent of 1917, shortly after the expedition. Today the territory is a site of scientists conducting experiments and research.

To commemorate the anniversary of the shipwreck in November 1915, this new coin shows the Endurance stuck in the Antarctic ice with a portrait of Sir Ernest Shackleton carved into the iceberg in the foreground. 

The obverse carries an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley.

Both the Uncirculated copper-nickel and Proof .925 fine silver versions weigh 28.28 grams and measure 38.6 millimeters in diameter. The copper-nickel coin is limited to 50,000 mintage and retails for $16.95. The silver version has a mintage limit of 10,000 pieces and retails for $89.

To order the coin, or for more details, visit the Pobjoy Mint website.

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