2020 $50 Pure Silver Coin – 175th Anniversary of Franklin’s Lost Expedition

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It was the Arctic voyage that launched a 170-year search. Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition is one of history’s greatest mysteries and, until recently, it seemed fated to remain unsolved. But by combining technology with Inuit traditional knowledge (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit), archaeologists recently discovered two key pieces of the story that may yield more answers: Franklin’s lost ships, including the one shown on this coin.


Designed by Royal Canadian Mint engraver Matt Bowen, the reverse features an artist’s rendition of the doomed Franklin expedition (1845-1848). The coin’s corrugated edge resembles jagged ice, which has HMS Terror firmly in its grasp on the reverse. In a desperate attempt to survive, the surviving crew and officers are seen abandoning the ship, with one group in the distance hauling a lifeboat towards King William Island. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.


  • MYSTERY MEETS HISTORY: Franklin’s lost expedition is one of history’s great mysteries but we’re getting closer to solving it! This coin honours the memory of the ill-fated expedition and celebrates the achievements of those who discovered Franklin’s lost ships in Canada’s northern waters.
  • CORRUGATED EDGES: The corrugated edges give this coin a jagged outline to resemble the ice that trapped Franklin’s two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror (seen on this coin).
  • ART AND STORYTELLING: Tragedy unfolds on the coin’s reverse, where the ship’s positioning and the surrounding ice convey a feeling of imminent danger.
  • AN IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENT: The scene on the coin captures the bravery and sacrifices that are part of the history of Arctic exploration that mapped the Canadian Arctic. The Parks Canada-led discovery of the wrecks is also a historic event, which was made possible thanks to Inuit oral tradition and modern science.
  • SUPERBLY ENGRAVED DETAILS: Several artistic elements draw you deeper into the story on the reverse, like the aurora borealis appearing as survivors abandon the ship. It represents the extreme beauty of the Arctic landscape and its dangers.
  • A LARGE (68 MM) DIAMETER: This coin is one of our largest Franklin Expedition coins yet.
  • LOW MINTAGE: Your coin has a low mintage of 750 coins worldwide.
  • INCLUDES SERIALIZED CERTIFICATE: The Royal Canadian Mint certifies all of its collector coins.


  • Mintage 750
  • Composition 99.99% pure silver
  • Finish proof
  • Weight (g) 157.6
  • Diameter (mm) 68.81
  • Edge interrupted serrations
  • Certificate serialized
  • Face value 50 dollars
  • Artist Matt Bowen (reverse), Susanna Blunt (obverse)

Your coin is encapsulated and presented in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded maroon clamshell with a black beauty box.