On November 17, the government and treasury of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands issued a new Crown coin that pays tribute to and celebrates the centenary anniversary of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition. The expedition was named after its ship and is considered by some to be the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
By 1914 both, poles had been reached, so Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922)—the famed polar explorer remembered for leading three British expeditions to the Antarctic during his career—set his sights on being the first to traverse Antarctica and achieved this goal when he arrived at South Georgia on November 5, 1914. After a month-long stop at Grytviken whaling station, the expedition sailed into the Weddell Sea with the aim of crossing the Antarctic continent to the Ross Sea, where they would be met by the Ross Sea party aboard the Aurora.
Eighteen months later Shackleton returned to South Georgia, albeit in very different circumstances. The Endurance had been lost in the ice and her 28-man complement had spent months in makeshift camps before they took to the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island, an ice-covered mountainous island off the coast of Antarctica in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands. It was from there that Shackleton and five companions made their 1,300-kilometer (805-mile) 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. 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 men waiting on Elephant Island; they were brought home aboard the Chilean steamer Yelcho without loss of life. Shackleton returned once again to the Antarctic In 1921 with the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, which, as fate would have it, would be his last ever. He died of a heart attack while his ship was moored in South Georgia. At his wife’s request he was buried there. His grave is in the churchyard in Grytviken, South Georgia, and even today visitors to this remote island often stop there.
The 2017-dated coin is struck by the Pobjoy Mint, United Kingdom, on behalf of the Treasury of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The reverse design shows the tall ship Endurance stuck in the ice in the background, with the crew pulling the sled on the ice pack in the foreground. The text IMPERIAL TRANS-ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION is placed above the principle design, and the coin’s denomination of £2 is underneath.
The obverse of the coin features the new effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II created for exclusive use by the Pobjoy Mint.
|£2||Cupro-nickel||28 g||38.6 mm||BU||10,000|
|£2||.925 silver||28 g||38.6 mm||Proof||2,000|
The coins are available in Brilliant Uncirculated cupro-nickel and Proof sterling silver. Each precious-metal coin has been carefully struck four times and features high-relief sculpting against a brilliant mirror background. The cupro-nickel coin is shipped in a blue protective presentation pouch. The Proof silver coin is shipped encapsulated in an acrylic capsule for protection and housed in a custom red box with a certificate of authenticity.
For more information on this and other coins issued by the government and treasury of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, please visit the website of the Pobjoy Mint. International sales dispatched where applicable.