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.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

240 years ago, Captain James Cook discovered South Georgia and to commemorate this anniversary, Pobjoy Mint is pleased to announce the release of a new coin on behalf of South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands.

The British explorer, navigator and cartographer Captain James Cook, made the first landing, survey and mapping of South Georgia whilst aboard the HMS Resolution. As instructed by the Admiralty on 17th January 1775, he took possession for Britain and renamed the island ‘Isle of Georgia’ for King George III.

Cook’s expedition circumnavigated the globe at an extreme southern latitude, becoming one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle. Nowadays the date of 17th January is celebrated at Possession Day, a public holiday in South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands.

The design on the coin features an image of Captain Cook’s ship The Resolution in the waters of Antarctica. A large iceberg can be seen in the background with a sailor from the ship hacking at a smaller iceberg in the foreground to obtain water for the Resolution. The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.

Available in Cupro Nickel and Proof Sterling Silver, each precious metal coin has been carefully struck four times and feature frosted sculpting against a mirror brilliant background.

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
£2 UKP 0.925 SILVER 28.28 g 38.60 mm PROOF 10,000 YES / YES
BRITISH POBJOY MINT