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BAT: Centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Death 50p coin

Started by Deeman, March 17, 2022, 01:05:55 PM

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Available to pre-order from Pobjoy. Limited edition of 2,750.

SY Endurance.


Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton led three British expeditions to the Antarctic:

Nimrod 1907-09:

SY Nimrod was a refitted sealer with changed sailing rig from schooner to barquentine. The expedition set sail for New Zealand on 7 Aug 1907 for final stores. Nimrod was so overloaded with supplies, which included 12 Manchurian ponies and a much-modified Arrol-Johnston motor, that it could not carry enough coal needed in the pack ice, so it was towed to Antarctica by the SS Koonya, the first steel vessel to cross the Antarctic Circle. The 1,650-mile journey south began on 1 Jan 1908.

SY Nimrod berthed at McMurdo Sound and, after unloading, headed back to NZ on 22 Feb in the interim. The expedition's main target, among geographical and scientific objectives, to be first to reach the geographic South Pole. A southern party led by Shackleton with three others headed for the geographic south pole on 29 Oct 1908. A northern party, led by Edgeworth David, set out to reach the South Magnetic Pole on 25 Sep 1908.

Shackleton's party reached a latitude of 88°23'S being defeated just 97 miles from the South Pole on 9 Jan 1909 due to weather and lack of supplies. A flag was planted and photographs taken before setting off on the return journey, a round trip of 1,613 miles. The Edgeworth David party reached the south magnetic pole on 16 Jan 1909, photographs were taken and the Union flag hoisted before heading back to base, a round trip of 1,260 miles. By the time Nimrod collected all the men of the shore party on 4 Mar 1909 many 'firsts' had been achieved. Mount Erebus had been climbed, the South Magnetic Pole had been claimed for Britain, a way to the South Pole had been found and the first motor car in the Antarctic had been trialled (unsuccessfully because of overheating and lack of traction in soft snow).

Trans-Antarctic 1914-17:

After the race to the South Pole ended in Dec 1911, with Roald Amundsen's conquest, Shackleton turned his attention to the crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. His ship, SY Endurance, was the renamed Polaris, a Norwegian vessel built in 1912 for a failed tour scheme for small tourist and hunting parties in the Arctic. Shackleton never made mainland Antarctica. After a six-day gale in Jan 1915, Endurance became trapped in ice in the Weddell Sea. She would then drift in the ice for ten months with Shackleton and his men living on board. Endurance was subjected to huge pressure from the ice, and by the end of Oct 1915, with water leaking in, the crew took the decision to decamp on to the ice, dragging three boats and provisions from the ship. Endurance sank on 21 Nov 1915.

Shackleton and his 27 companions drifted northward on a floe for 6 months. As the ice started to break up, Shackleton ordered to boats to set sail for the uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton, along with five companions, decided to sail one of the lifeboats to South Georgia, not the closest human settlement but the only one not requiring sailing into the prevailing westerlies. Of the three lifeboats, the James Caird (after Sir James Key Caird, expedition sponsor) was deemed the strongest and most likely to survive the journey.

Before its voyage, the boat was strengthened and adapted to withstand the seas of the Southern Ocean. The boat reached the uninhabited south side of the island after a voyage that lasted 16 days over 720 nautical miles - one of the greatest small-boat journeys ever completed. Shackleton and two companions then set off on a 36-hour non-stop trek across glaciers and mountains to reach a whaling station on the northern side. Here he organised the relief of the three men left on the south side of the island and of the Elephant Island party, and the return of his men home without loss of life.

Shackleton-Rowett 1921-22:

The expedition's vessel, SY Quest, was a converted Norwegian schooner-rigged steamship sealer Foca II, built in 1917, and renamed Quest by Lady Emily Shackleton.

The Quest sailed to South Georgia arriving at Grytviken whaling station on 4 Jan 1922. Shackleton died the day after; an autopsy found the cause of death to be coronary heart disease. Shackleton's body was taken ashore and laid in the whaler's church. Meanwhile, the Quest left for the Weddell Sea on the 18 Jan led by Frank Wild. It was planned to send the body back to England assuming that this would be his wife's wishes. A message was subsequently received from Lady Shackleton saying that she felt that it was more fitting that her husband was buried on South Georgia. He was buried on the 5 Mar 1922 at Grytviken at a ceremony attended by a hundred whalers and seamen.

The Quest returned to South Georgia on the 6 Apr. The crew of the Quest built a memorial cairn to Shackleton at Hope Point overlooking the entrance to Grytviken Harbour. Quest departed on 8 May for Cape Town, eventually arriving back home in England on 16 Sep 1922. The heroic age of Antarctic exploration was over.


A brilliant set of coins. I have an affinity with the endurance having served on the most recent manifestation of HMS Endurance
All coins are equal but some are more equal than others


An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.