• 50 Cents 1970, KM# 565, Australia, Elizabeth II, 200th Anniversary of the Exploration of the Eastern Coast of Australia by James Cook
  • 50 Cents 1970, KM# 565, Australia, Elizabeth II, 200th Anniversary of the Exploration of the Eastern Coast of Australia by James Cook
Description

The Royal Australian Mint issued this 50 cent coin, the first commemorative coin of the decimal era, in 1970 to celebrate the bicentenary of the navigation of Australia’s east coast by Captain James Cook.

Obverse

Second crowned portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II facing right, wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara was a wedding present in 1947 from her grandmother, Queen Mary, who received it as a gift from the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland in 1893 on the occasion of her marriage to the Duke of York, later George V. Made by E. Wolfe & Co., it was purchased from Garrard & Co. by a committee organised by Lady Eve Greville. In 1914, Mary adapted the tiara to take 13 diamonds in place of the large oriental pearls surmounting the tiara. At first, Elizabeth wore the tiara without its base and pearls but the base was reattached in 1969. The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara is one of Elizabeth's most recognisable pieces of jewellery due to its widespread use on British banknotes and coinage.

Engraver: Arnold Machin

ELIZABETH II AUSTRALIA 1970

Reverse

Portrait of Captain James Cook, based on a painting by John Webber, superimposed over a map of Australia, with the date 1770 and a facimile of his signature. The inclusion of Cook’s signature is thought to be the first use of a facsimile signature on a coin. A dotted line shows the ship Endeavour's passage up the east coast and across the north.

Captain James Cook FRS (1728– 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

In three voyages Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.

Cook was attacked and killed while attempting to kidnap the native chief of Hawaii during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific in 1779.

Engraver: Stuart Devlin

1770 James Cook
SD
FIFTY CENTS

Edge

50 Cents

2nd portrait

200th Anniversary of the Exploration of the Eastern Coast of Australia by James Cook

KM# 565
Characteristics
Type Commemorative Issue (Circulating)
Material Cupronickel
Weight 15.75 g
Diameter 31.5 mm
Thickness 3 mm
Shape polygon
Sides 12
Alignment Medal
Mint
Royal Australian Mint (RAM)

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