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Canada 2007 International Polar Year 125th Anniversary - Sir Martin Frobisher, Sailing Ship, Arctic Iceberg, Polar Bear & Inuit in Kayak $20 Silver Proof

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Product Description

This coin gives new meaning to the term "Great White North" - a pictorial summary of the Canadian Arctic!

Sold out at the Mint!Hundreds of years ago, the Arctic was viewed as a possible gateway to a new world, the Far East. The search for the Northwest Passage inspired adventurers for hundreds of years. Today, the Arctic is viewed as the key to understanding our global climate.

Frobisher.jpg The first polar denizens, the Inuit, had been living in the Arctic for thousands of years, but for the
Europeans, it was a harsh and forbidding place. The need to study this unknown land became abundantly clear as Sir Martin Frobisher searched for the Northwest Passage in 1576. The arrival of the first Englishman there fueled the notion of empire-building back home. Arctic settlement seemed a distinct possibility, so Frobisher constructed a house of lime and stone so the Arctic's effects on the structure could be observed.

In 1882, the growing consensus among scientists prompted the launch of 15 coordinated expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic - the first International Polar Year. Much has been learned since that first Polar Year 125 years ago and much remains to be understood about the polar regions - their climate, environment and their inter-relationship with the oceans, atmosphere and other land masses.

The historic search for the Northwest Passage did indeed reveal that all parts of the globe are connected, but as the current Polar Year (2007-08) will continue to demonstrate, that connection reaches far beyond the scope of a trans-Arctic trading route. Scientist continue to explore the phenomenon of global warming in the hopes of forestalling or avoiding a global climatic disaster.

This coin is also available with as a version with the new plasma technology! Please see lower on this page for a short biography of Sir Martin Frobisher.

Click here for more coins with animals on them!


Leave it to the master engravers at the Royal Canadian Mint to create a tableau that encompasses (no pun intended) the early history of Canadian Arctic exploration. The collage is centered on a 16th-century compass rose, around which are arranged:
     • A superb bust portrait of Sir Martin Frobisher
     • A towering iceberg
     • Frobisher's sailing ship, the bark Gabriel
     • An Inuit man in a ocean-going kayak

     • A polar bear

The date and denomination are also indicated.


Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, in profile facing right. This portrait, the fourth effigy of the queen to appear on Canadian Coinage, was executed by the artist Susanna Blunt. The logo of the International Polar Year and the legend ELIZABETH II D. G. REGINA ("Elizabeth II, Queen by the Grace of God") also appear. 


The coin is encapsulated inside a burgundy leatherette, clamshell-style presentation case, lined with black velvet and protected by a black outer box. An individually-numbered certificate of authenticity is included.


Country Canada
Year of Issue 2007
Face Value 20 Dollars
Weight 27.78 g
Diameter 40 mm
Mintage Limit    15,000
Finish Proof
Composition .925 Fine (Sterling) Silver
Edge Reeded (milled, serrated)
Artist Laurie McGaw
Certificate Individually Numbered

Sir Martin Frobisher

Martin Frobisher (c. 1535-39 – November 22, 1594) was an English seaman from Yorkshire who made three voyages to the New World to look for the Northwest Passage. All landed in northeastern Canada, around today's Resolution Island and Frobisher Bay. On his second voyage, Frobisher found what he thought was gold and carried 1,500 tons of it home on a dangerously overloaded boat, only to be informed that it was worthless iron pyrite (fool's gold) - D'oh! Undeterred, Frobisher returned to Canada a third time and found what he thought to be another source of gold. He shipped 1,300 tons of it back and was informed that it was the same substance as the last time - double D'oh! As an English privateer he had more success locating real gold, pillaging riches from French ships. He was later knighted for his service in repelling the Spanish Armada in 1588.

For his first voyage in 1576, mainly by the help of the Earl of Warwick, Frobisher was put in command of an expedition of small ships. It consisted of two tiny barks, Gabriel and Michael, of about 20-25 tons each, and a pinnace of ten tons, with a total crew of 35. He weighed anchor at Blackwall, and, after having received Godspeed from Queen Elizabeth I of England at Greenwich, set sail on June 7th, 1576, by way of the Shetland Islands.

In a storm, the pinnace was lost, and Michael was abandoned, but on 28 July, Gabriel sighted the coast of Labrador. Some days later, the mouth of Frobisher Bay was reached, and because ice and wind prevented further travel north, Frobisher determined to sail westward up this passage (which he conceived to be a strait) to see "whether he might carry himself through the same into some open sea on the back side."

Baffin Island was reached on the 18 August 1576, where the expedition met some of the local natives. Frobisher sent five of his men in kayaks to survey the land, telling them strictly not to wander out of his sight. They did, and assuming they had been captured, Frobisher took hostages to see if he could resolve the problem they have over come during the trip, and soon they just left. The men were never seen again, but Inuit legend tells that the men lived among them. Frobisher turned homeward, and reached London on October 9th. Among the things which had been hastily brought away by the men was some "black earth," and just as it seemed as if nothing more was to come of this expedition, it was rumored aboard that the apparently valueless "black earth" was really a lump of gold ore. It is difficult to say how this rumor arose, and whether there was any truth in it, or whether Frobisher was a party to a deception, in order to obtain means to carry out the additional expeditions.

In 1585 Frobisher commanded the Primrose, as vice-admiral to Sir Francis Drake in his expedition to the West Indies. Soon afterwards, the country was threatened with invasion by the Spanish Armada, and Frobisher's name was one of four mentioned by the lord high admiral in a letter to the queen of "men of the greatest experience that this realm hath." For his signal services in the Triumph, in the dispersal of the Armada, Martin Frobisher was knighted. He continued to cruise the Channel until 1590, when he was sent in command of a small fleet to the coast of Spain.

In 1591 he visited his native Altofts, and there married his second wife, a daughter of Lord Wentworth, becoming at the same time a landed proprietor in Yorkshire and Notts. He found, however, little enjoyment in the country life, and the following year took charge of the fleet fitted out by Sir Walter Raleigh to the Spanish coast, returning with a rich prize.

In November 1594 Frobisher was engaged with a squadron in the siege and relief of Brest, when he received a gunshot wound at Fort Crozon, and due to poor medical treatment, died days later at Plymouth on November 15th. His soft organs were buried at St Andrew's Church, Plymouth on November 22. His body was then taken to London and buried at St Giles-without-Cripplegate.

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