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Friday, 16 March 2018

684) Viking Ships: Norse Figureheads: "Dragon Ship" (The "Dreki" or "Drakkar"): Third $20 Silver Coin in the 3 Coin Series issued by the Royal Candiian Mint on 6th March 2018:

684) Viking Ships: Norse Figureheads: "Dragon Ship" (The "Dreki" or "Drakkar"): Third $20 Silver Coin in the 3 Coin Series issued by the Royal Candiian Mint on 6th March 2018:

For other interesting posts on issues from the Royal Canadian Mint, please visit the following links/posts:

The Royal Canadian Mint has released the third and last coin in the 3 Coin Series titled "Norse figureheads" on 06.03.2018 which focusses on the connection with North America and early Viking exploration. The previous two coins in the Series were titled "Northern Fury" and "Dragon's Sail".

The third and final coin on the Coin Series "Norse Figureheads" brought out by the Royal Canadian Mint, shows the Reverse of the coin against a backdrop of a painting of a Viking ship with a sailor pointing towards land after a sea voyage

These coins also highlight the ships on which these explorations were made possible by and saw the Norse Vikings sail from their home-lands in Scandinavia as far as the Middle East into the Black Sea and to the territories which are known as North America.

Between the years 800 AD and 1050 AD, the Vikings sailed in seas which no other European sailors would venture into during this period or did not have the resources/skills to do so. Besides, it required a lot of courage to sail into open waters well beyond the sight of land into what was once described as "the end of the world."

The Viking sea-farers sailed without any hint of modern navigational tools to aid them in their voyages and instead relied on their senses, intuition, trust in their Norse Gods and Deities, and a vast understanding of nature to guide their ships far and wide. These brave Norsemen managed to make their way across the North  Atlantic onto the Easternmost shores and into the annals of North American, especially Canadian history/folklore.

Whether raiding, trading, exploring or claiming territories in the name of the Norwegian King, the sea-faring Norsemen of the Viking Age travelled North to the Barents Sea, East to the Caspian sea, South to the Northern coast of Africa, West to Canada's North Atlantic coastline and even South into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

It was only in 1960, that the discovery of the remains of eight buildings which were recognised as Norse style structures at L'Anse aux Meadows that provided the first archaeological proof that Norsemen had indeed reached Canadian shores. Further excavation at the site uncovered many artifacts of wood and metal, including a small cloak pin, that date back to about 1,000 AD. There was also evidence of the first iron smelting in the New World taking place here.

An interesting feature of the Viking warships was that they differed in those built for trade and exploration. Longships, such as the "Skeid", were longer and narrower, while the trade-friendly "Knarr" was wider to accommodate more cargo and was favoured for longer journeys like Vinland (present day Newfoundland) and Greenland.
The Reverse of the $20 Coin presents an artistic depiction of a Viking ship at sea.

An overhead view conveys the dauntless spirit of the Norse mariners and captures the majesty of a dragon ship (the "Dreki" or "Drakkar") around 1,000 AD as the wind fills the striped sail. There is an elaborately carved dragon figurehead at the prow, which gave the ship its name and was intended to ward off evil spirits.

Selective colour highlights the Norse art-inspired periphery/border of the coin that frames the Viking ship. 

The figure-head bears a Norse-inspired motif of inter-twined serpents in the Jellinge Art style popular around 1,000 AD which fits in the time-line of Leif Ericsson's voyage from Greenland to Vinland (Newfoundland). Included in the coin design are four runic letters that represent the cardinal points - North, East, South and West - a tribute to the sea-faring nature and exploratory spirit of the Vikings.

The year of issue is marked towards the upper-centre left periphery "2018".

                                The Obverse of the $20 Coin 

It depicts an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II which appears on all the Canadian circulation coins since 2003.  The peripheral inscriptions are - "ELIZABETH II. CANADA. D.G. REGINA. 20 DOLLARS."

The specifications of this coin are:

Denomination: 20 Dollars; Metal Composition: .9999 Silver (Ag); Weight: 31.3 grams; Diameter/Size: 38.0 mm; Coin Quality: Proof with applied colour; Edge: Serrated; Maximum Mintage: 6,000 pieces; Year of issue: 2018; Designers: Neil Hamlin (Reverse) & Susanna Blunt (Obverse).
The custom case/box in which each coin is encapsulated. Each coin comes with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity (COA)


  1. Vikram Bhatnagar has commented:
    "Fantastic! I beleive our own Malayalee and Tamil sailors also ventured to far off lands in pre-historic times and, the results of their seafaring activities can be seen in the cultures, language, cuisine and features of folks in Africa, Malaysia etc."

    1. That is very correct, Vikram. We visited the Brihadeeswarar Temple constructed in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I last month in Thanjavur. (India's first Rs.1000 coin came out in 2010 commemorating this temple). We saw several sculptures on the temple facade which looked like Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Arabic and even one dressed in European attire (about 400-500 years before the first Europeans came to India). His son Rajendra Chola had a navy with over 1,000 longboats/ships which sailed all over the Indian Ocean and went on exploratory trips even into the Pacific Oceans seeking trade ties everywhere. The Chola Navy from about 1000 longboats/ships in the initial stages grew to become a powerful one and became a diplomatic symbol all over Asia and Europe. Again, in the journal of a merchant named Periplus of the Eritrean Sea is found a mention of Chola Naval escort ships assigned to the merchant vessels laden with valuable cargo. These ships were equipped with flame-throwers and catapult like armament. We even saw a sculpture on the Brihadeeswarar Temple which looked like holding a musket or a flame-thrower.