Earlier this year the New Zealand Mint launched a new historical series of silver coins called Journeys of Discovery. The first coin in the series was launched not long ago in June, and depicted the epic explorer of Asia, Marco Polo. The second coin debuted just a few weeks ago and featured another of the worlds most famous explorers, Christopher Columbus. Given the number of releases in the second half of 2015, it seems the series is proving popular and we can confirm thay’re nicer in the hand than in the official images. Continuing with the increasingly used 2 oz, high-relief, antique finish silver coin format, this range veers towards historical truth instead of mythological fantasy, much like the New Zealand Mints other fairly new release, Cerberus.

The subject of this first 2016-dated release is the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama, and shows the scene from 20 May 1498 when he landed in India for the first time. The packaging stays with the innovative style that the New Zealand Mint has chosen for this series, and comprises a great looking wooden box in a mini sack, meant to echo those used to transport goods around the world for centuries. The coin itself has good relief, and a quite complicated and detailed design that remains looking almost like a deep relief woodcut sculpture. The unnamed artist has again mantained an excellent use of perspective and the result looks to have a lot of appeal for collectors of historical coins. Like most of this type of coin, the extra ounce in weight goes towards the coin thickness and not to increasing the diameter, which is a bit of a shame but a necessary part of a high-relief strike. The 2,000 mintage Da Gama coin will sell for £145.00 USD and be available from today on the NZ Mint website, and from their dealers worldwide.

VASCO DA GAMA

Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira, c. 1460s – 23 December 1524) was a Portuguese explorer. He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route, as well as the Atlantic and the Indian oceans entirely and definitively, and in this way, the West and the Orient. This was accomplished on his first voyage to India (1497–1499).

Da Gama’s discovery was significant and opened the way for an age of global imperialism and for the Portuguese to establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia. The route meant that the Portuguese would not need to cross the highly disputed Mediterranean nor the dangerous Arabian Peninsula, and that the whole voyage would be made by sea. The sum of the distances covered in the outward and return voyages made this expedition the longest ocean voyage ever made until then, far longer than a full voyage around the world by way of the Equator.

After decades of sailors trying to reach the Indies with thousands of lives and dozens of vessels lost in shipwrecks and attacks, da Gama landed in Calicut on 20 May 1498. Reaching the legendary Indian spice routes unopposed helped the Portuguese Empire improve its economy that, until da Gama’s discovery, was based mainly on trading along northern and coastal West Africa. The spices obtained were mostly pepper and cinnamon at first, but soon included other products, all new to Europe and leading to a commercial monopoly for several decades. Source: Wikipedia

 

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MINTS DESCRIPTION

REVERSE: This relief engraved, antique-finished coin, shows the exciting moment of Vasco da Gama landing in Calicut, India for the first time on May 20, 1498. The scene is set with an engraved image of a temple on shore.

OBVERSE: This features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

PACKAGING: This Vasco Da Gama 2 oz Silver Coin is presented in a timber treasure chest with a uniquely numbered certificate of authenticity. This in turn sits within a draw string sack, modelled on those used to transport materials to trade around the globe on great Journeys of Discovery throughout history.

SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$5 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 62.2 g 41.0 mm ANTIQUE 2,000 YES / YES
NEW ZEALAND MINT