The Tall Ships 50p Coin Series (2020-2021)

In 2020, we launched a new series of coins featuring Tall Ships which have enjoyed great popularity since the very first release. In 2020 and 2021, we produced six coins in the Tall Ships Series: HMS Resolution, HMS Erebus, Cutty Sark, HMS Terror, Scotia, and RRS Discovery. This post will provide you with a brief description of each of the six Tall Ships in the series to help you complete your collection.


HMS Resolution


Issued on behalf of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the Launch of HMS Resolution

The "Resolution" was Captain Cook's ship during his 2nd and 3rd voyages of discovery in the Pacific and in the search for the North West Passage. It started life as a Whitby collier 'Marquis of Granby" and was changed by the Admiralty to a ship-rigged (three-masted) sloop-of-war and renamed "HMS Resolution". In 1772, during Cook's second voyage to the Pacific, the "Resolution" became the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle, crossing twice more during this voyage and in the process proving Alexander Dalrymple's 'Terra Australis Incognita' to be a myth.

HMS Erebus


Issued on behalf of the British Antarctic Territory Marks the 220th Anniversary of the Birth of Captain James Clark Ross

HMS Erebus is a Hecla-class bomb vessel constructed by the Royal Navy in Pembroke dockyard, Wales, in 1826. The vessel was the second in the Royal Navy named after Erebus, the dark region of Hades in Greek mythology. After two years' service in the Mediterranean Sea, Erebus was refitted as an exploration vessel for Antarctic service and captained by James Clark Ross between 1839-1843. On this expedition, James Clark Ross discovered the largest ice shelf in the Antarctic.


Cutty Sark


Issued on behalf of British Indian Ocean Territory Celebrates the 150th Anniversary

of The First Voyage of The Cutty Sark Cutty Sark’s first voyage departed London on 15 February 1870, bound for Shanghai. On this outward voyage, the ship carried a general cargo, including wine, spirits, beer and manufactured goods. After successfully reaching China on 31 May, the ship was loaded with 1,305,812 lbs of tea, the equivalent of around 47 double decker buses! This is the first of eight voyages the ship successfully made to China in pursuit of tea. However, Cutty Sark never became the fastest ship on the tea trade. Dogged by bad winds and misfortune, she never lived up to the high expectations of her owner during these years.


HMS Terror


Issued on behalf of the British Antarctic Territory 180th Anniversary of the Arrival of HMS Terror in Antarctica

Constructed for the Royal Navy, and launched in 1813, HMS Terror was converted into a polar exploration ship in the mid-1830s. Her solid construction made her ideally suited for use in the dangerous sea ice that would crush other ships. In 1839 HMS Terror was assigned to a voyage to the Antarctic with the HMS Erebus under the overall command of James Clark Ross. On 21st November 1840 they departed for Antarctica. In January 1841, the ship landed on Victoria Land, and they proceeded to name areas of the landscape named after British politicians, scientists and acquaintances. The dormant volcano Mount Terror on Ross Island was named after the ship by the expedition commander.




Issued on behalf of the British Antarctic Territory Commemorates the Centenary of William Speirs Bruce

William Speirs Bruce was a British naturalist, polar scientist and oceanographer who organised and led the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition to the South Orkney Islands and the Weddell Sea. In 1901, Bruce purchased a Norwegian whaler and during the following months the ship was transformed into an Antarctic research vessel. The hull of the ship was reinforced to withstand the pressures of the Antarctic ice. Renamed Scotia the expedition left Troon in Scotland in November 1902 and headed south towards Antarctica where Bruce intended to set up winter quarters in the Weddell Sea quadrant. Having got stuck in the heavy ice, the Scotia retreated to Buenos Aires until she was able to set sail again, following repairs in January 1904 to explore the Weddell Sea. In March of that year new land was sighted which Bruce named Coats Land, but in danger of becoming icebound, Scotia turned north again for the long voyage back to Scotland.


RRS Discovery

Issued on behalf of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Commemorates the 120th Anniversary of the Launch of the RRS Discovery

Launched in 1901, the RRS Discovery was built for Antarctic research and was the last traditional wooden three-masted ship to be built in the United Kingdom. With Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton on board, her first mission was the British National Antarctic Expedition. This journey was the first by Scott and Shackleton and was known as the Discovery Expedition. In 1923 Discovery was taken into the service of the British Government in order to carry out research in the Southern Ocean, becoming the first Royal Research Ship. The two year expedition the ship undertook was the start of the the Discovery Investigations which recorded valuable information on the oceans, marine life and carried out the first scientific investigations into whale populations. The work undertaken on RRS Discovery, and in the Discovery Investigations more generally, made a huge contribution to the knowledge of the whales, their feeding habits and the oceanography of their habitat. Ultimately, the Discovery Investigations led to the establishment of the International Whaling Commission and the ban on commercial whaling activities which has undoubtedly saved many whale species from extinction.

We hope that this post has been informative to our existing and potential future collectors. Look out for our 2022 Tall Ships releases coming soon.