Despite the celebrations around Christopher Columbus and other fifteenth-century European explorers when it comes to talking about the discovery of the America’s, it’s pretty clear that the Viking were there centuries before. Legendary seamen for their times, the Norse longship took Leif Erikson all the way to Vinland (Newfoundland), where he established a settlement, probably near the site of a recently discovered Norse ship repair station, now called L’Anse aux Meadows.
The Longship was a marvel of its time that reached a peak in the 11th-13th centuries. A shallow draught meant it could move right up to shore, symmetrical in build, so able to reverse quickly and fitted with oars for most of its length, these ships were fast, agile and flexible. Helping to power Norse expansion through Northern Europe and further afield, these approx 30m long ship drew both admiration and dread for those that saw them heading to their shores.
The Royal Canadian Mint is debuting a three-coin series featuring looks at the iconic longship and its carved wooden figurehead. Each silver coin is an ounce in weight and will depict a view of the ship by a different artist. The border – a pattern in the Norse style – is coloured, the only element so adorned. Inside this is a view of the longship. The first coin by Patrick Belanger is our favourite of the three. The only coin to have the central art break into the border area, the design is a highly dynamic one. The obverse is the usual, bland, Sussana Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The second and third coins can be seen further down and will ship in February and March, each costing the same $104.95 CAD as this first coin. Mintages are set at 6,000 pieces and they can be bought individually or as a subscription. Packaging is the usual maroon clamshell case, so a missed opportunity for a box to hold all three there we think, but this looks to be a nice set covering a popular subject. A wooden box with Norse carving on the lid, like the Perth Mint used for its series, would’ve looked great and encouraged collectors to get all three. Available to buy now.