Captain Cook, one of the world’s greatest explorers, stars on new annual British coin series

Responsible for expanding our knowledge of the world through some incredible voyages of discovery, Captain James Cook FRS is one of the greatest of the worlds explorers. Through a series of famous voyages in the mid-late eighteenth century, he mapped Newfoundland and he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. He was killed in Hawaii in 1779 by natives during a botched kidnapping attempt.

It’s now 250 years since Cook set off on the first of his three great voyages and the Royal Mint is embarking on a three coin series that will be released one per annum to celebrate the intrepid explorer. Designed by Gary Breeze, each of the three coins in the set will depict part of an overall image. These are often hard to pull off – the difficulty coming in making an overall image while keeping each of the three parts coherent and attractive in their own right. The first coin looks promising with its depiction of Endeavour over a map of Plymouth Sound.

These are £2 coins, which means bi-metallic. The effect is replicated on these precious metal variants by the use of an outer gilded band in the case of the silver coin and the use of red and yellow gold in the case of the gold coin. We understand the need to use bimetallic coins for circulating currency as they’re considerably less attractive to counterfeiters, but we’re not fans of the look on precious metal commemoratives. The effect is quite distracting in our view and that’s the case here, even though the artwork is sound. Irrespective of that, we’re interested to see what Gary Breeze does with the finished set and have high hopes for it.

The silver coin is struck in sterling 0.925 fineness metal and sells for £67.50. That’s quite a chunk for a 12 gram coin, but par for the course with Royal Mint issues, so we’re sure it will be a good seller regardless. You can subscribe to this series, something the mint doesn’t offer very often, and while the price per coin isn’t any lower, you will recieve a box that holds the three coins together. The Royal Mint does presentation very well, so while we’ve yet to see the box, we’d be surprised if it were not top quality. Sadly, you’ll have to wait until the third coin lands in 2020 to get your hands on it.

The gold coin is of an identical size to the silver coin, but weighs in at half an ounce because of golds greater density. This one sells for £845.00 and is also offered on a subscription basis with the same box reward. Like the silver coin it carries the edge inscription OCEANI INVESTIGATOR ACERRIMVS, loosely translating to the Greatest Ocean Investigator. Also like the silver coin it carries Jody Clark’s latest effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on its obverse. Available to buy now.



The Royal Mint has embarked upon a new three-year series to mark the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s epic Voyage of Discovery aboard HM Bark Endeavour. A series of three £2 coins, released each year from 2018 to 2020, will explore Captain Cook’s voyage of discovery in real time. The coins carry three intriguing designs by sculptor Gary Breeze, which combine to create a single, complete image that tells the story of Captain Cook’s voyage.

The son of a farm hand, Captain James Cook grew up in the historic port of Whitby from the age of 17. In August 1768, Cook and his crew set sail on HM Bark Endeavour, commencing what would become a three-year voyage of discovery. It was the first of three such journeys for the intrepid pioneer, during which he would circumnavigate the world twice. His spirit of adventure helped to fill in the blanks on the world map and improve our knowledge of new places, peoples, plants and even other planets. Captain James Cook charted more of the planet than any other historical figure.

The ship that carried Captain James Cook through his daring expedition was Endeavour. The term ‘bark’ (sometimes spelled ‘barc’ or ‘barque’) describes a sailing vessel with three masts. Cook’s ship was originally a coal ship, or collier, called Earl of Pembroke. It was purchased by the Navy and refitted for the voyage – robust but shallow of draught, able to withstand the power of the sea but navigate shallow waters which was perfect for the journey ahead.

COMPOSITION 0.925 silver 0.9167 gold
WEIGHT 12.0 grams 15.97 grams
DIMENSIONS 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS Gilded outer ring Two gold varieties
MINTAGE 5,000 (4,795 in single packaging) 350 (340 in single packaging)
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes