Dec 052013

The Charlotte medal in silver is believed to have been engraved on board the First Fleet transport Charlotte as she lay at anchor in Botany Bay before sailing into Port Jackson and unloading her cargo of convicts at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788.

Inscribed with an account of the voyage from England and an image of the Charlotte, it is acclaimed as Australia’s first colonial work of art, and furthermore, as a unique record of the arrival of the settlers who founded modern Australia.


ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of the Australian Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account

The 74mm wide medal is believed to have been made from a surgical dish by convicted thief Thomas Barrett at the behest of John White, the ship’s surgeon. White wanted a memento of the historic landing and chose Barrett for the task after he’d displayed remarkable skill at forging coins during the arduous sea voyage.

Alas, Barrett lasted little more than a month in the convict colony, meeting his fate at the end of a hangman’s rope for stealing beef and peas. Not only was he responsible for the historic silver medal, but also a smaller copper version, thought to have been commissioned by White’s personal servant, William Broughton.


Image courtesy of Noble Numismatics and Ian M. L. Armstrong.

Material for the second medal could have come from copper sheathing used to protect the ship’s hull. The finished piece measured 47mm in diameter and featured an abridged form of the inscription on the silver medal, but no ship.

Sailed the Charlotte of London from spit head the 13 of May 1787. Bound for Botany Bay in the Island of new holland Arriv’d at Teneriff the 4th June in Lat 28.13N Long 16.23 W depart’d it 10 Dec arriv’d at rio janeiro 6 of Aug in Lat 22.54 S Long 42.38 W depart’d it the 5 of Sept arriv’d at the Cape of good hope the 14 Octr in Lat 34.29 S Lon S 18.29 E depart’d it th 13 of Nov and made the South Cape of New Holland the ‘8 of Jany 1788 in Lat 43.32 S Long 146.56E arrived Botany Bay the 20 of Jany the Charlotte in Co in Lat 34.00 South Long 151.00 East distance from Great Britain miles 13106.

The silver Charlotte medal belonging to surgeon John White, who returned to England, remained unknown until it appeared in the famous collection of the Marquess of Milford Haven. Details were published in 1919 in the first volume covering his collection of naval medals.

William Broughton remained in the colony, rising to become an official of significant stature in the Government of New South Wales. His copper Charlotte medal was discovered during the 1940s on the site of a farm in Camden with which he was associated.

According to rare coin specialist Noble Numismatics, if the silver Charlotte medal is one of the most significant and rare items associated with the First Fleet, then the copper Charlotte medal must rank as equal in rarity and significance.

Where are the Charlotte medals now?

The Australian National Maritime Museum (with help from the National Cultural Heritage Account) made the winning bid at auction of $750,000 for the silver Charlotte medal in 2008. It is can be seen on display in the Museum, which is located in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

The copper Charlotte medal is currently for sale via Noble Numismatics.


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Sep 032013

DemeterThe third vessel in the Famous Ships That Never Sailed series is The Demeter of Bram Stoker’s gothic horror story ‘Dracula’. The legendary tall ship sailed the ‘undead’ Count to England in what became a final and terrifying passage for her crew.

Struck from 99.9% pure silver in proof quality, the coin’s reverse portrays a representation of The Demeter and the cliff top Whitby Abbey surrounded by vampire bats. With a mintage of 3,000, the Tuvalu legal tender coin is beautifully presented in a wooden case in the shape of a book, accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

For your chance to win this stunning coin, simply rearrange the following letters to solve the anagram

Clue: Home of vampires!


How to enter: Email your answer to Mark your reply or subject line ‘September 2013 Anagram Competition’ and include your name, telephone and membership number, or the Twitter username you use to follow @perthmint. Entries close on 30 September 2013. Eligible entrants will be included in the free draw and the winner will be notified by telephone or email. (T&Cs)

Last month’s winner: Jeffrey Beck from Nevada, USA.


Jun 042013

Secret orders to search for the fabled ‘Great Southern Continent’ accompanied James Cook on his epic first voyage to the South Pacific of 1768–71.

The idea of one huge southern land mass was first suggested by the ancient Greeks. Ptolemy, for one, thought that with all the land in the Northern Hemisphere, there had to be an equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere to act as a counterweight.


Terra Australis occupies a large part of the Southern Hemisphere in Rumold Mercator’s map of 1587.

Over time, European explorers ventured further south, discovering new lands often assumed to be parts of the hypothetical continent. In many famous cases, map-makers represented these discoveries alongside purely speculative representations of Terra Australis Incognita – the ‘unknown south land’.

Even in the 18th century, much of the Southern Hemisphere still remained a mystery.


A fellow of the Royal Society, Alexander Dalrymple believed fervently in the existence of a great southern continent.

By then, Scottish hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple had become one of the idea’s main proponents. In the process of translating Spanish documents captured in the Philippines in 1762, he had found Luis Vaez de Torres’ testimony proving a passage south of New Guinea.

His views prompted the British Government, already fuelled by imperial ambition and hopes of laying claim to a bounteous new territory, to plan an expedition to the region under Dalrymple’s leadership.

As we know, Cook, one of the leading navigators and cartographers of the era, was ultimately entrusted by the Admiralty to find the much anticipated prize.

Having observed the transit of Venus in Tahiti, Cook opened his confidential instructions and headed west to map the complete coastline of New Zealand before revealing to the world the existence of the east coast of Australia.

That it was not part of Terra Australis as the Greeks had hypothesized was confirmed by Matthew Flinders’ circumnavigation of the continent in 1801 – 03. Doubtful that another land mass to the south existed, Flinders called for the name to be applied to what he saw as the next best thing: “Australia”.

By the time Antarctica was sighted, a land Cook missed despite crossing the Antarctic Circle in 1773, the name had already stuck to it northerly neighbour.


The Land Downunder Gold and Silver Coin Series celebrates James Cook, the brilliant navigator venerated in Australia as the first European to chart the continent’s east coast.


May 242013

These exciting new coins, featuring ships from legend and literature, are available from today. Just 3,000 of each silver coin will be released.

Flying Dutchman


According to legend, the Flying Dutchman was doomed to sail the seas for eternity. Hovering above the water and wreathed in spectral light, she was a terrifying prospect that foreshadowed disaster to superstitious sailors.

So powerful was belief in the Flying Dutchman that King George V is said to have seen her while in the Royal Navy. Scientists suggest, however, that an apparent sighting was more likely a mirage that mariners mistook for the phantom ship.

After a stormy passage at sea, German composer Richard Wagner dedicated an opera to the Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer), based on the unfortunate tale of Vanderdecken. In the teeth of a howling gale, the dogged Captain swore he’d round the Cape of Good Hope even if it took him until Doomsday! (Buy now)



The Pequod and all but one of her crew were victims of Captain Ahab’s obsession to hunt and kill the white whale in Herman Melville’s literary classic, Moby Dick.

A nineteenth-century three-masted Nantucket whaler, the Pequod set sail on a three-year expedition bound for the Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific Oceans. A savage-looking vessel, she was decorated with the bones and teeth of sperm whales.

Ahab, who lost a leg in his previous encounter with Moby Dick, ultimately fails in his vengeful quest. During their final, ferocious battle, the whale with “the solid white buttress of his forehead smote the ship’s starboard bow”, condemning the Pequod to sink.

When Ahab launches a final harpoon towards his foe, he is entangled by its line and dragged under as Moby Dick dives beneath the waves. (Buy now)


Jul 102012

The Royal Australian Navy is 101 years old today. It was created on 10 July 1911 when King George V granted to the Naval forces of the Australian Commonwealth the title ‘Royal Australian Navy’.

Prior to Australia’s action at Gallipoli in 1915 and subsequently on the Western Front, the RAN was already actively involved in The Great War.

Early Timeline for RAN

  • The RAN becomes a reality as a fighting unit in October 1913 when the Fleet, comprising HMAS Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra, enters Sydney Harbour for the first time.
  • With the outbreak of war, Australian ships counter the threat posed by von Spee’s German East Asiatic Cruiser Squadron, which will depart the region leaving just SMS Emden to harass commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean.
  • The RAN takes part in Australia’s first ever battle as a sovereign nation – the Battle of Bita Paka on the island of New Britain. Part of the invasion and subsequent occupation of German New Guinea, it targets a strategically important radio station.
  • Able Seaman William Williams from Melbourne becomes Australia’s first fatality of World War I during the 11 September 1914 attack.
  • Australia’s first naval loss of the War occurs on 15 September 1914 with the disappearance of submarine AE1 with all hands while on patrol near East New Britain.
  • The first ANZAC convoy departs for Europe from Albany, Western Australia on 1 November 1914.
  • The light cruiser HMAS Sydney breaks away from the convoy to engage the German raider Emden off Cocos Island on 9 November 1914 – resulting in the first sea victory of the First World War and Australia’s first naval victory.

100 Years of the Royal Australian Navy 1oz Silver Proof Coin and Badge Set

Issued in celebration of the RAN’s centenary in 2011, this limited coin and badge set remains available from The Perth Mint.