The government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands have released a new coin to commemorate the birth of the famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Born on 15th February 1874, Sir Ernest Shackleton wanted to be an explorer from a very early age, inspired by faraway places that he had read about as a boy. At the age of 16, bored by the school curriculum, he went to work in the Merchant Navy.
His big break came when he was 27 years old when he was selected to join Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery Expedition. Departing England on 31st July 1901, it was the first major British exploration of the Antarctic for 60 years.
This expedition ended prematurely for Shackleton as he was sent home early on account of ill health but he did receive the Royal Geographical Society Silver Medal for his involvement. He went on to become one of the world’s greatest explorers. He is perhaps most famous for the heroic rescue of his stranded crew after the sinking of Endurance during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1915 which involved an open boat journey across the Southern Ocean and treacherous over-land crossing of South Georgia.
To commemorate the 145th Anniversary of his birth and also the 115th Anniversary of being awarded the Royal Geographical Society Silver Medal in 1904, the design on the coin is based upon the silver medal, which shows an Antarctic scene with members of the sledging party, the ship and a sledge. Penguins and seals can be seen in the plinth below.
The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II produced exclusively by Pobjoy Mint.