Ships that Changed the World Coin Series
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While the great days of seafaring has all but come to an end with the introduction of modern means of transport, the spirit of discovery embodied in the great sailing ships of old still remains an integral part of our collective subconscious. Without the pioneering seafaring adventurers that helped to explore and expand the reaches of the then known world, civilization as we know it today would not have been able to expand and encompass such a wide variety of nuances. In honour of the Golden Age of Discovery, the Perth Mint has designed and minted a series of five coins depicting a unique historical ship that has helped shaped Western and Eastern civilization. Crafted from pure 99.9% fine silver, and ornately stuck and designed with selective colouration and meticulous tooling, each coin, weighing one ounce, showcases a sailing ship from varying eras of history to commemorate its contribution to the furtherance of civilization set in proof-quality finish.
As with all the mintages of the Perth Mint, the obverse side of the coin depicts an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II designed by Raphael Maklouf, along with the legends ‘ELIZABETH II TUVALU’ as well as its face value (A$1) and date of mintage. The currency is legal tender in Tuvalu, although it considered bullion coin elsewhere.
The first coin that introduced the series to the numismatic world was minted in 2011, featuring the ship known as the Santa Maria. Set in silver against the background of a coloured period-accurate globe and lapping waves, the Santa Maria, or the Santa Maria de La Immaculada Concepcion was the largest of the three ships that Christopher Columbus took with him n this first voyage to find a shorter route to the East Indies in 1492 – 1493. This ship was the one that landed on the islands of the Bahamas, just off the coast of mainland America, which he subsequently ‘discovered’ after his third voyage. Crafted with meticulous detail and aptly bordered with a sextant curve, it is a stunning tribute to a ship that helped open the doors to the New World. The coin also bears the distinctive mintmark of the Perth Mint, along with the specifications of the coin (weight / silver purity) and the ship’s name incorporated into the design.
The second coin of the series minted in the same year featured the Golden Hind, the great ship captained by notorious Knight-privateer Sir Francis Drake. Meticulously struck to bring out the most nuanced details and set against a coloured background of a period-accurate globe and lapping waves, the coin stands as a tribute to the ship that circumnavigated the globe between 1577 – 1580 under the express patronage of Sir Christopher Hatton, for which the ship was so named (his personal heraldic device depicted a golden ‘hind’, or female deer). The ship is also well-known for returning a treasure-trove of bounty from Spain, an act of masterful privateering by Drake who, under direct orders from the Queen, became her own official pirate and scourge of the seas. Bordered by a sextant curve known as a popular tool among navigators, the ship’s name as well as the coin’s specifications is incorporated into the design along with the Perth Mint’s distinctive ‘P’ mintmark.
The 2012 mintages saw three releases that would complete the series, starting off with the depiction of the Mayflower – a ship well-known by history buffs and grade-schoolers alike for being the first ship that brought the earliest American settlers into the New World. Struck in silver with extreme attention to fine details, it is set against a background of a coloured period-accurate globe and lapping waves. Bordered by a sextant curve, it incorporated the name of the ship as well as the coin specifications into the overall design, with a mintmark subtly included.
The next coin in the 2012 series featured the naval battleship or frigate known as the USS Constitution in full sail, meticulously crafted in mirror-finish and set against a coloured background similar to all the other issues. Named by President George Washington after the United States Constitution, the 1797 seaworthy three-hulled wooden frigate is the oldest commissioned naval vessel and is known for surviving a number of naval battles since its inception. Bordered delicately by a sextant curve, the reverse also features its name, coin specifications, and the Perth Mint’s mintmark incorporated into the overall design.
The last of the 2012 release which completes the Ships Series featured the Scottish clipper, the Cutty Sark. Based after Robert Burns’s expression which stood for a short nightdress, and given owing to the ship’s unique and uncanny appearance, the Cutty Sark was built in 1869 at Dumbarton, Scotland and is one of the most iconic of their ships. Set against a coloured background similar to all the rest of the issues and bordered by a sextant curve, the ship’s name, and the coin’s specifications are also incorporated into the overall design along with the Perth Mint’s distinctive mintmark.
All the coins of the series are made in proof-quality, showcasing the unique details and setting off the subtle colourations of the background. Each coin is of a limited circulation, with only 5, 000 coins per ship. The Ships Series of coins by the Perth Mint not only do justice to the seafarers of old and to the ships that helped change history, but also to the great debt that we owe to those seafaring individuals who dared to brave into the unknown.
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