Famous Fantasy Ships, also called Ships That Never Sailed, is an eight coin series of one-ounce silver coins. Struck by the Perth Mint for European distributor, Modern Numismatics International, each entrant depicts a fictional vessel made famous in popular literary works. While the Perth Mint is well known for its use of selective colour on its many ranges of proof silver coins, Fantasy Ships is free of the distraction.

First launched in 2013, the series recently wrapped in 2016 with the launch of a collection edition carrying all eight coins in a single larger box. Individual coins came in a themed wooden box of good quality and the collection set takes that style and enlarges it to suit. Each coin is limited to 3,000 pieces, the set just 300. All of them have a Certificate of Authenticity which is numbered.

The coins have been popular, the Perth Mint selling out its Australian allocation pretty quickly in most cases, and we’d put that down to the classic look. Ships are a popular subject for coins and these clean-struck designs are well judged and have unusual subjects. Each reverse face carries no inscriptions on them that aren’t specific to the coin, just the name of the book and the name of the vessel being depicted. As expected with a Tuvalu-issued coin, the obverse has an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on it, along with inscription of her name, the composition, date, issuer, and denomination.

The images don’t really do the series justice, but a look at the new collection video further down gives a better look at them in reality. All the coins are out now, some sold out at the mint but still possible to pick up in the aftermarket at near issue price.


BOOK: The Flying Dutchman coin is unique in this series in not being based on a defined book, but rather on a nautical legend. It’s the only coin not to feature an inscription at the top of the reverse side.

STORY: Also unlike the other coins, the ship isn’t a bit player in a novel, but the main point of the tale itself. A ghost ship legend going back to the late 18th century, The Flying Dutchman is said to be doomed to sail the oceans forever, never docking at port. While the myth is likely to have originated from 17th-century nautical folklore, it has continued to be ‘sighted’ through the 19th and 20th centuries. More modern sightings say the ship emits a ghostly glow. One of the most famous sighters of The Flying Dutchmen was by Prince George of Wales, the future King George V in 1880.

If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman will try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is a portent of doom.

COIN: Shows the Flying Dutchmen in the air above the surface of the sea in the midst of a huge electrical storm.


BOOK: The Pequod is from the 1851 novel Moby Dick by American author Herman Melville. Melville had experience at sea, and his reading of writings on whaling helped flesh out this classic book. A real albino whale called Mocha Dick was the inspiration for the whale. The sinking of the Essex by a whale was a further inspiration. Initially a commercial failure, it has become a fully lfledged American Classic.

STORY: The story is about the obsessive captain of the the whaler Pequod driven to revenge on the white whale Moby Dick, which destroyed his ship and severed his leg at the knee on a previous voyage. The story is told by the sailor Ishmael.

SHIP: The Pequod is a fictional 19th-century Nantucket whaling ship and has a quarterdeck and a forecastle. It is three-masted like most Nantucket whalers of the time.

COIN: Depicts the Pequod under full sail while the white sperm whale Moby Dick breaches from the water in front of her.


BOOK: Dracula was written in 1897 by Irish author Bram Stoker. A Gothic horror novel, the main protagonist is the vampire Count Dracula, one of the most iconic in literary history. While critically acclaimed on release, the novel wasn’t a huge seller. It reached its current iconic status later in the 20th century when it was adapted and plagiarised for movies like 1922’s Nosferatu. It now sits at the very top of its genre as a bon fide classic.

STORY: The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. The events portrayed in the novel take place chronologically and largely in England and Transylvania during the 1890s and all transpire within the same year between the 3rd of May and the 6th of November.

SHIP: The Demeter was a Russian cargo/passenger ship that weighed anchor at Varna (a Bulgarian town on the Black Sea coast), and was shipwrecked off the coast at Whitby, in England.

COIN: Depicts the the Demeter off the coast of Varna, with a high castle in the background and bats in the air.


BOOK: Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up is author J. M. Barrie’s most famous work. The novel was first published in 1911 by Hodder & Stoughton in the United Kingdom and Charles Scribner’s Sons in the United States. The original book contains a frontispiece and 11 half-tone plates by artist F. D. Bedford. In 1929, Barrie gave the copyright of the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in London.

STORY: The book tells the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous yet innocent little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans and pirates. Peter has many stories involving Wendy Darling and her two brothers, his fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and the pirate Captain Hook.

SHIP: The Jolly Roger was the pirate ship commanded by Captain Hook and is usually depicted in the common style of a late 17th century seagoing vessel.

COIN: Depicts the Jolly Roger under full sail complete with skull & crossbones on the sails. Peter Pan is flying around in the foreground.


BOOK: One of 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and one of 12 stories in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes cycle. It is chronologically the earliest case in Sherlock Holmes canon. This story is related mainly by Holmes rather than Watson, and is the first case to which Holmes applied his powers of deduction.

STORY: Sherlock spent a month with his university friend, Victor Trevor. In his youth, Victor’s father was convicted of fraud and sent to Australia aboard a ship called The Gloria Scott. Whilst on route, he discovered a conspiracy to take over the ship. Several crew members died as a result of the ensuing revolt. Jack Prendergast, the instigator, wanted to murder all of the remaining crew. Victor’s father and several others did not wish to partake in murder, so they asked to be set adrift in a small boat, to make their own way to Australia. Soon after, The Gloria Scott exploded. Victor’s father and the others rowed back to search for survivors. They found only one, a man named Hudson. Once they reached Australia, the drifters changed their names and embarked on a new way of life as free men, before eventually returning to England. Victor’s father had lived a safe and peaceful existence until Hudson turned up on his doorstep, attempting to blackmail him and other members of the mutinous crew. When he received a letter informing him that Hudson had told the police about The Gloria Scott, Victor’s father suffered a stroke and died.

SHIP: “The Gloria Scott had been in the Chinese tea-trade, but she was an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft, and the new clippers had cut her out. She was a 500-ton boat; and besides her 38 jail-birds, she carried 26 of a crew, 18ldiers, a captain, 3 mates, a doctor, a chaplain, and 4 warders.”

COIN: Depicts the Gloria Scott sailing close to land. Sherlock Holmes sits watching on a rocky outcrop.


BOOK: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas: An Underwater Tour of the World is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. The book was highly acclaimed when released and is regarded as one of the premiere adventure novels.

STORY: The year is 1866, and there is discussion about a mysterious sea creature sinking ships all over the world. The US government steps in to investigate, and sends out the Abraham Lincoln to identify the creature. Pierre Aronnax, a French scientist and his manservant, Consell, are joined onboard by a harpooner named Ned Land. The trio sets sail and are subsequently attacked by the deadly creature which is shaped like a fish, complete with a large fin on top. When they are thrown overboard they realise their attacker is actually a submarine called the Nautilus. They are captured and placed in a cell by the ship’s captain. The story tells of the trio’s exciting, and sometimes terrifying, adventures on the Nautilus which roams the seas sinking warships. Eventually the three captives seize the opportunity to escape making it to shore unscathed in a small dinghy.

SHIP: The Nautilus is a double-hulled submarine. Its top speed is 50 knots. Its displacement is 1,356.48 French freight tons (1,507 submerged). It is an elongated cylinder with conical ends. The length of this cylinder, from stem to stern, is exactly 70 m, and its maximum breadth is eight metres. Lavishly equipped, its main attack method is ramming.

COIN: Depicts the Nautilus under the sea with two sailing vessels apparently giving chase. A sunken city lies on the seabed.


BOOK: The tales of Sinbad are a relatively late addition to the One Thousand and One Nights – they don’t feature in the earliest 14th-century manuscript, and appear as an independent cycle in 17th and 18th century collections. One Thousand and One Nights  is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age.

STORY: In The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, an impoverished porter named Sinbad pauses to rest during his day’s work on a bench outside a grand palace in Baghdad. Curious about the palace he asks one of the servants about the owner and learns that it belongs to a rich, noble sailor, also named Sinbad, who is famous for his incredible travels. Despite the many challenges Sinbad the Sailor faced on his voyages he always prevailed, lured by the thrill and excitement of the sea. Throughout his seven voyages Sinbad and his crew sailed on-board his trusty ship, the Chimera, cruising across the danger-ridden seas, and encountering a variety of adventures along the way.

SHIP: The Chimera was a classic Arabic sailing vessel of the period called a Caravel, first developed by the Portuguese.

COIN: Depicts the Chimera sailing into harbour while Sinbad, sword drawn, overlooks the scene.


BOOK: The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells first serialised in 1897 in the UK by Pearson’s Magazine and in the US by Cosmopolitan magazine. The novel is one of the most commented-on works in the science fiction canon and hugely influential.

STORY: The story presents itself as a factual account of a Martian invasion. Much of The War of the Worlds takes place around Woking and the surrounding area. Man is being soundly beaten by the Martians tripod machines firing heat-rays and black smoke, but they’re ultimately defeated because they were not immune to earthly viruses.

SHIP: The HMS Thunder Child was an ironclad torpedo ram ship of the Royal Navy. It’s loosely based on actual vessels, including dreadnaughts and the RN ship.

COIN: Depicts the Thunder Child steaming past a tripod while doing battle with three of them in the famous scene from the book.


The packaging for this series is unusual and quite dramatic. While at first glance ‘a wooden box’ doesn’t sound particularly different, this one is CNC’ed to look like a book from two pieces of wood. The interior is lined in blue felt and has room for the Certificate of Authenticity. The front lid is etched with the inscription ‘Ships that never sailed’ in a handwritten style. Above is a book, quill & ink, and candlelight scene. The back lid is etched with an inscription showing it’s a Perth Mint release.

OBVERSE: The whole series has a common obverse design. As with any Tuvalu issued coin, the most prominent feature is the effigy of the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II. The Perth Mint standard one by Ian Rank Broadley is the effigy chosen. Inscriptions are her name ‘QUEEN ELIZABETH II’, the composition ‘1oz 999 SILVER’, the issuing state ‘TUVALU’, the denomination ‘1 DOLLAR’, and the date. The latter would be a year from 2013 to 2016.


In August 2016, MNI launched a limited run of just 300 sets of the whole series. Presented in an upscaled version of the individual coin box, it looks a far superior way to obtain a set than buying individually. We’re currently unsure if the box will be available to buy seperately.


$1 TUVALU (AUD) 0.999 SILVER 31.135 g 40.6 mm PROOF 3,000 YES / YES