New Commemorative Coin Features Legendary Ghost Ship
For at least 100 years, people in the Maritime Provinces along Canada’s Atlantic coast have reported seeing a mysterious apparition out on the water. People report seeing a sailing ship with three or four masts. The sails, and sometimes the entire ship, appear to be on fire. Most sightings occur off the shore of Northumberland and in Chaleur Bay. When people have sailed out to aid what appears to be a ship in distress, it seems to vanish.
Many stories have developed in an attempt to identify the ghost ship, and scientific explanations for the mysterious sighting have been theorized as well. In either case, the mysterious vision has captured the imaginations of people across the country, and the Royal Canadian Mint recently released a coin that celebrates the stories about the legendary ghost ship.
Features of the Coin Design
The reverse of the 99.99% silver coin, which has a face value of $50, is roughly half engraved and half coloured. Under normal light, the coloured top half shows a darkened sky with menacing storm clouds on the horizon. The engraved bottom half shows two would-be rescuers looking out toward the horizon while attempting to launch a small boat along a rocky shore amidst choppy ocean waters.
When viewed under a black light, an image of the ghost ship appears on the horizon just beyond the rocks. It glows in shades of blue and purple, but the sails have orange spots as though they are on fire. The sails also have dark spots as though they are torn in places.
Sightings of the Ghost Ship
A description of the ghost ship was first recorded in print in 1905, though the sightings themselves have probably been going on for much longer, at least 200 years by some accounts. The sightings most frequently occur during the twilight hours in the early morning or late evening, usually during spring and fall, although sightings have been reported in all seasons. It seems to happen right before a storm hits.
Most people report that the vessel has three masts, though some report four. Sometimes the entire ship seems to be burning from stem to stern, while other times only the rigging appears to be on fire. Some accounts mention seeing and hearing people and dogs running around on deck. Yet any time a rescue mission has been attempted, the ghost ship seems to disappear before the rescuers can reach it.
Possible Explanations of the Apparition
Some people believe that the ghost ship is a pirate vessel, perhaps one belonging to Captain Kidd. In 1701, Kidd was executed for crimes related to piracy, but questions have since been raised about whether the sentence was just. People have also postulated that the apparition may be the ghostly remains of specific ships that were lost in the area, such as the Isabella, which was last sighted by a lighthouse keeper on Amet Island when bound for South America in 1868.
There have also been scientific explanations proposed for the phenomenon. One theory is that the apparition is caused by fata morgana, a mirage that forms when light rays become bent while travelling through alternating bands of warm and cool air. People have also hypothesized that the vision may be due to a form of lightning called St. Elmo’s fire. When the atmosphere becomes heavily charged with electricity, pointed objects can discharge electricity in small bursts of light. This explanation would explain why the sightings tend to occur before a storm, but why the discharge would occur in the absence of pointed objects remains unclear.
The Appeal of the New Coin From the Royal Canadian Mint
With the application of a black light, this coin tells its very own ghost story and would be prized by anyone interested in tales of the supernatural. The coin could be used to illustrate the ghost story when telling it to children and to show them how much fun it can be to collect Canadian coins. This coin is currently available at Colonial Acres but may not be for long. If a coin is out of stock we do have an option available to email you when back in stock. See this coin and choose from many more collectable pieces.