The treasury of the Cook Islands, in association with CIT, has launched two new collector coins remembering one of the most celebrated events to have taken place during the 20th century. On the 29th May 1953, New Zealand-born Edmund Hillary and the Nepalese-Indian Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest at 11:30 a.m. local time. The international media celebrated the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain as the third pole’s conquest (after the north and south poles). The British were able to take credit for this success, as British mountaineers had organized and led the expedition. The Times newspaper had exclusive rights to the story and broke the news of the successful expedition on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. No other news could have better illustrated to British readers the great achievements of which their Empire was capable.
Prior to this ultimate success in 1953, many recorded attempts to reach the summit of Everest dating back to as early as 1921. But it wasn’t until the 29th May 1953 that someone actually succeeded in achieving this mammoth challenge by reaching the very top of Mount Everest — often referred to as “the rooftop of the world.” The two men involved were Edmund Hillary (1919–2008), a native of New Zealand, and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986), a native of Nepal. Sherpa guides are commonly known for not only their physical strength but their ability to endure the extreme altitudes. They have played a major part in Himalayan exploration and mountaineering over the years, and attempting to make the climb without one was unheard of. When making their final ascent to the summit, Hillary and Norgay had apparently got caught up in a storm that forced them to stop and spend the night at over 27,000 feet. But the following day, the two men were able to continue climbing where they would eventually reach the summit on the 29th May. 70 years ago, news did not travel quite as fast as it does in a world where today, the news is literally seen and heard live as events occur. It wasn’t until the 1st June before word got back to London about the two men successfully reaching the top of Mount Everest.
This extraordinary news could not have come at a greater moment. The next day, the United Kingdom, Commonwealth, and Empire were preparing to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. People in all corners of the English-speaking world felt this was a good omen for the future of Great Britain. Later that year and in recognition of his amazing achievement, the young Queen knighted Hillary, who was thereafter known as Sir Edmund. Tenzing Norgay was also recognised for his part in reaching the top of the world and was awarded the British Empire medal, the highest accolade for a civilian who was not a citizen of the United Kingdom, and a great honour. During his life, Sir Edmund was further honoured in his native New Zealand when in 1992, his likeness, along with a background of New Zealand’s Mount Cook, was included on the front side of $5 banknotes. The design is still in use.
The coins are commissioned by CIT of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, and produced by the B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt at their facilities in Munich on behalf of the treasury of the Cook Islands. Shown on both the two-ounce and one-kilo sizes, the reverse side depicts Mount Everest from a bird’s eye view, its peaks in high relief and with subtle, delicate colour application. A dotted line marks the route of the first ascent followed by Hillary and Norgay, which also reaches the text MT. EVEREST 1953 FIRST ASCENT at the top. The smartminting technology and ultra high relief strike offer greater depth and detail to the surface of the peaks and chasms not seen previously on a coin. The cleverly designed obverse features images of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in full backpacks making their way onward and upward towards Mount Everest as it is seen rising up in front of them. Shown just to the left is a coin obverse in miniature which includes an effigy of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II created by British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley along with the inscription ELIZABETH II COOK ISLANDS. Above the Queen’s likeness is the coins’ denomination shown in dollars, and below, the year of release, 2023. On the surface of the rim of both the $100 and $10 values is an inscription shown in micro-text which reads:
ON 29 MAY 1953, NEW ZEALAND-BORN HILLARY AND HIS NEPALESE MOUNTAINEERING PARTNER TENZING NORGAY, BECAME THE FIRST HUMANS TO STAND ON THE SUMMIT OF EVEREST. AS MEMBERS OF THE 1953 BRITISH MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION, THEIR TRIUMPH WAS THE GLORIOUS RESULT OF A LONG, COMPLEX AND BRILLIANTLY CO-ORDINATED CAMPAIGN.
|10 dollars||.999 Silver||62.2 g||45 mm||Proof with applied colour||1,953|
|100 dollars||.999 Silver||1,000 g||100 mm||Proof with applied colour||99|
The silver Proof versions are presented in a custom window-effect box for ease of viewing or display and are accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity. For additional information, please click here for the $10 silver coin or here for the $100 silver coin.