The Age of Discovery saw humanity harness the power of the wind to expand its horizons around the globe. The major powers of Europe, both military and economic, made use of navigational and shipbuilding enhancements between the 16th and 18th century to explore nearly every corner of the world’s oceans. The Dutch East India Company was one of the economic powers behind this movement, but many of its ships met with an untimely fate while sailing the world’s oceans. The Royal Australian Mint offers Australian numismatic pieces that capture images of some of the Dutch East India Company ships that never made it back to port. The Zeewijk silver coin is the final release of this four-coin series and it is available now.
The Magnificent Zeewijk Reverse
On the reverse side of 2021 Australian Shipwreck Zeewijk 1 oz Silver Coins is a depiction of the Zeewijk in its former glory just after construction. The towering sailing vessel is shown on calm waters as it sails toward the viewer. The design field has ornate border elements with ship ropes completing a triangular frame around the design, anchored in the lower two corners with ship’s wheels. The inscription “VOC” is in the upper corner of the triangular coin as you view the ship upright. The initials VOC refer to the name of the Dutch East India Company in the Dutch language, “Vereenigde Oostindishce Compagnie.” If you flip the ship upside down, you can read the banner along the bottom that includes “Zeewijk” on the banner itself, with “1 oz .999 Ag” and “1727” inscribed above and below.
The Aftermath of a Wreck on the Obverse
The obverse field of the 2021 Australian Shipwreck Zeewijk Silver Coin comes with an image of Queen Elizabeth II in the upper corner of the triangular field. This is the sixth-generation effigy of Her Majesty for Australian coins and was created in 2015 for the Royal Mint of England by Jody Clark. It captures the Queen in right-profile relief with the George IV State Diadem Crown. There are small inscriptions around her bust of “Elizabeth II,” “Australia,” and “2021.” Beneath the Queen’s effigy, you will find various scenes of Zeewijk’s shipwreck and the aftermath. These include the wrecked ship on the reefs surrounding the Houtman Abrolhos and the efforts of the crew to build a new ship and sail onward. The only other inscription is “One Dollar” at the base of the triangular field.
Zeewijk Release Details
The release of the 2021 Australian Shipwreck Zeewijk Silver Coin is the final coin in the four-coin series. The Zeewijk coin comes with a mintage of just 20,000 silver coins and offers each one in its own custom-made, triangular plastic capsule. The coins contain 1 Troy oz of .999 pure silver in BU condition with a face value of $1 (AUD). Each one is a product of the Royal Australian Mint, the official sovereign mint of the Commonwealth of Australia.
History of the Zeewijk
The Zeewijk was constructed for the Dutch East India Company in 1725 in the Chamber of Zeeland, the least populous province of the Netherlands located in the southwest near the border with Belgium. The ship displaced 275.8 tons and could support a crew of 212 seaman and soldiers. In November 1726, it departed on its maiden voyage to Batavia, a Dutch East India Company trading city in what is now modern-day Jakarta, Indonesia. The ship had a crew of 208 sailors and soldiers with a cargo of building supplies and more than 300,000 Dutch guilders. On the evening of June 9, 1727, the ship collided with a reef in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands. 10 men drowned in the immediate aftermath as attempts were made to launch the longboat. Eventually, the remaining crew, along with most of the onboard provisions and cargo, were removed to nearby Gun Island. In July 1727, the longboat was launched on a mission to Batavia to attempt a broader rescue. Carrying the 11 fittest members of the crew and the First Mate, the longboat was never seen or heard from again.
From Tragedy, a First
With the longboat crew having failed to reach Batavia, the remaining survivors made their own attempt to reach safety. In late October 1727, the crew began breaking apart the Zeewijk, which had become lodged in the reef but did not sink, to use in the construction of a new ship. Built in the form of a North Sea fishing vessel, the crew laid the keel for the Sloepie in November 1727. After four months of construction, the remaining crew of 88 set sail for Batavia. One month later, 82 of those crewmembers arrived in Batavia in the Sloepie, with six having died along the way. The Sloepie not only saved those remaining survivors, it also went down in history as the first European-style ship ever built in Australia.
Capture the Final Australian Shipwreck Release
With the release of the 2021 Zeewijk Silver Coin, the Royal Australian Mint completes its four-coin Australian Shipwreck Series. You still have time to complete your collection by purchasing this beautiful silver bullion coin now at Provident Metals. Please feel free to contact us with questions at 800-313-3315, chat with us live online, or simply send us an email. Please remember to follow us on Facebook and read our weekly blog posts highlighting new coin releases.