The firm MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH has produced numerous spectacular and innovative coins over recent years. They may have surpassed themselves with one .9999 fine gold $200 and one .999 fine silver $25 struck for the Solomon Islands. Both pay tribute to Lieutenant James Cook’s ship: HMB Endeavour.
Each of the 65 mm 155.5 g (5 oz) coins depicts Cook’s bark at sea and under full sail engraved into a blue mother of pearl inlay set in the reverse. The effect is stunning – a fitting salute to the 250th anniversary of the commencement of Cook’s – and the Endeavour’s – exploration of the South Pacific.
HMB Endeavour started life as the collier Earl of Pembroke. The Royal Navy converted her in 1768 for a scientific mission to the Pacific Ocean with the command given to the newly promoted Lieutenant Cook whose distinguished service during the siege of Quebec had brought him to the eyes of the Admiralty.
The mission’s first objective was to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun at Tahiti to provide a means of determining longitude. Secondly, Cook was to go in search of postulated Great Southern Continent a.k.a. Terra Australis. He didn’t find the continent but did discover New Zealand and Australia.
Endeavour ended her active life as a British troop transport during the American War of Independence. She presently lies in Newport Harbor where she was scuttled in 1778. But her name has lived on in OV105, the U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour, which NASA even spelled with a “u.”
Mintage of the two coins are 750 (silver) and 25 (gold).
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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