Last updated on July 9th, 2020 at 06:46 am
Last Updated on July 9, 2020 Posted by Colonial Acres Coins
In 1845, Englishman Sir John Franklin and his crew set off on their fourth expedition to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage. Little did they know it would be their last. Their two ships, the H.M.S. Terror and H.M.S. Erebus were lost and never found by the more than 90 subsequent rescue expeditions. The ultimate fate of the expedition remained a mystery until 2014 when the Erebus was finally located by a technologically equipped Canadian mission. In honour of the expedition and in celebration of the discovery, a limited set of silver commemorative coins has been released by the Royal Canadian Mint.
An Amazing Story
To truly understand the meaning behind the coins, we need to take a journey back in time and look at this story and how it unfolded. Franklin may have never gone on this voyage had he not fallen into political difficulties. He had previously gained fame from his earlier voyages, one of which was almost fatal for him. Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane Franklin, in an effort to restore his career and image, lobbied for him to get one last expedition. It worked, and he soon set off north.
Journeying into the Arctic is dangerous due to the many icebergs that constantly migrate. This was especially the case for the ships they had back in 1845. After the ships headed into Lancaster Sound, they were never seen again. It is now known that they must have hit a wall of ice when sailing north from the sound and turned around. When finding themselves trapped by more ice on the way back, the expedition was stranded.
Rumors abound as to their ultimate fate thereafter. Some of these rumors described the crew as devolving into cannibalism in their desperate efforts to survive. It wasn’t until a modern search team worked with Inuits, examining the oral tribal history, that they were able to pinpoint the location of one of the ships with the use of a helicopter team. Preserved in the stern of the Erebus was a large dead man. Unfortunately, they were unable to determine if it was Franklin himself, but the ship itself was remarkably well preserved.
Details of the Coin’s Design
Only 750 of these commemorative coins were minted, and each one is made of five ounces of pure silver. It is one of the largest Franklin expedition coins, with a diameter of 68.81 millimeters. The specific pattern of the edges is interrupted serrations, which mimic the icebergs of the Arctic. It features a proof finish. The front side of the coin, designed by Susanna Blunt, features an image of Queen Elizabeth.
The Symbolic and Beautiful Art
The jagged edges of the coin represent the ice that trapped Franklin’s ships using corrugated edges. In the detailed engravings on the reverse side, designed by Matt Bowen, you can see the danger and beauty of the Arctic landscape. On this landscape, you can see survivors escaping from the ship, and topping it all is the aurora borealis. The overall scene conveys the tragedy and sublime peril of being lost in the Arctic wilderness. Modern science and Inuit tradition are both given homage for the roles they played in discovering the lost expedition.
See This and Other Rare Coins
Coins like this one are hard to come by, and their small quantity alone makes them a prize in any collection. With this coin, you can hold a piece of history and real-life adventure. In our collection at Colonial Acres Coins, we have many other rare and collectible coins from all around the world, including some very rare uncirculated and discontinued currencies. Browse our store and see for yourself.