Special commemorative coins carry significant historical and cultural value. When you buy coins and bills from a dedicated retailer, we ensure that you receive a genuine and quality product to pass down through the generations. The limited-edition astrolabe silver coin, produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and commemorating the explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, is one exciting piece of history. Here is the story behind Champlain and the significance of the $50 astrolabe coin.
Who Was Samuel de Champlain?
Samuel de Champlain was born in France and began exploring North America in the early 1600s. He established the city of Quebec in what was then called New France, mapping the Great Lakes and part of the Atlantic coast in the process. While Quebec became an important hub for fur trading, Champlain ventured further into Canada and later penned stories, maps, and illustrations related to his many voyages. Champlain’s maps were extremely valuable to the explorers who came after him.
The works that Champlain left behind are still important today for their historical value in learning about early navigation and helping to understand how European explorers and Indigenous peoples lived and interacted with each other. Numerous towns, bridges, landmarks, and natural features throughout modern Quebec, Ontario, New York, and Vermont are named after Samuel de Champlain. These include Lake Champlain, which borders both Canada and the United States, Champlain Bridge connecting Ontario and Quebec, and Champlain, New York, a small town in the far northeastern part of the state.
What Is an Astrolabe?
The astrolabe is a navigational instrument that dates back for centuries; invented around 170 B.C., this device likely came into popularity during the pinnacle of the Roman Empire and was widely used throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Roughly translated to “star-taker,” astrolabes use the horizon, sun, and stars, specifically the Pole Star, to give explorers and navigators the local time or their position in latitude. These ancient devices remain in use today to help people learn about navigation, surveying, timekeeping, and astronomy. Astrolabes also allow you to see what the sky would have looked like at a given location and point in time.
The Astrolabe Silver Coin
The legacy of explorer Samuel de Champlain meets this intriguing instrument with the creation of the $50 astrolabe silver coin. Initially lost and then rediscovered beside an Ontario lake in 1867, the actual astrolabe that Champlain used has been at the Canadian Museum of History since 1989. Besides the one used by Champlain, only around 100 astrolabes in total are known to still exist today. Champlain’s astrolabe is one of the smallest surviving astrolabes from its time and is the only one originating from France. You can own a piece of that history with this silver coin featuring:
- A replica of Champlain’s astrolabe overlaying a reproduction of a New France map drawn by Champlain himself, both of which were redesigned by engravers from the Royal Canadian Mint
- Fine artistic details, including a silver serrated edge, made possible by using both laser and traditional engraving techniques
- A likeness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the opposite side of the coin
- Five ounces of 99.99% pure silver plated in bronze
Only 1,000 of these coins were produced for worldwide sale, making this a valuable, limited-edition collector’s item perfect for any history buff, modern explorer, or coin enthusiast.