It’s the fourth day of our Pobjoy Mint catchup and this time it’s the little known but highly worthy commemoration of the first landing on a tiny British Dependancy in the South Atlantic. Found by Captain James Cook, an absolute legend in the history of exploration, South Georgia remains one of the most remote locations that were ever part of the British Empire. Although first sighted in 1675 by Anthony de la Roché, a London merchant, and was named Roche Island on a number of early maps, it was in 1775 that Cook first circumnavigated and then landed on the island, making this the 240th anniversary. Another famous explorer, Ernest Shakleton died and is buried in the settlement Grytviken.
Currently, the population of these 1500² mile islands is a miniscule 30, mainly made up of personnel at the British Antarctic Survey scientific base. To describe the landscape there as bleak and stunning would be an understatement, with its combination of a polar climate and multiple 2,000m plus mountains. The island is known for its bird colonies, and for the seals and whales that frequent them. Whaling was the only industry there for many years, and in about 1912, what is according to some accounts the largest whale ever caught, a blue whale of 33.58 metres (110 ft), was landed at Grytviken. Thankfully this detestable industry has now disappeared and there are some impressive attempts to rectify the damage caused by human habitation. For example, the entire Reindeer population was culled, and serious attempts to wipe out the rat population are underway with some impressive results. Both animals were non-native inhabitants and both were causing serious damage to the local species, especially the rats that were destroying millions of bird nests.
Another one-ounce coin struck in sterling silver, it has a mintage of 10,000 pieces. Depicting Cooks ship, the Resolution, alongside an iceberg with sailors collecting ice for fresh water. Issued for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, it isn’t the first coin the British Pobjoy Mint has issued for the islands. The obverse is the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, as you’d expect, but it’s enlarged to cover more of the coin face. A nice touch. As with most Pobjoy stuff, the coin in the hand is far nicer than the flat looking images suggest. We can’t find this one on the Pobjoy website at the time of writing, but it will probably sell for around £60 plus taxes.