British Virgin Islands coin features HMS Astrea


17 January 2022
Pobjoy Mint have announced details of the third coin in the new series featuring ships connected to the British Virgin Islands.

The third coin in the collection features Royal Navy ‘HMS Astrea’, a 32-gun frigate of the British Royal Navy. The design on the coin shows a side profile of the ship sailing.

Originally named The Pelican, the full rigged-ship was launched in 1781, over 240 years ago, and is famously known for its participation in the American War of Independence and Napoleonic Wars. 

HMS Astrea (or Astraea) was built at East Cowes, Isle of Wright. After having been rigged and fitted out she was commissioned in Portsmouth on October 1st, 1781. A total of 220 men and officers made up her roster, and she was finally ready to do her duty in the Royal Navy. 

HMS Astrea had not been in commission long when she saw action for the first time. The American War of Independence was still lingering on and in its wake hostilities had broken out between Britain and the major powers on the continent. In December 1782, Astrea played a relatively minor role alongside a small British fleet in the fight and subsequent capture of the 40-gun American frigate ‘South Carolina’. 

Her first real triumph didn’t happen until the 10th of April, 1795 when she captured the larger 42-gun French frigate ‘La Glorie’ during the French war. At the time HMS Astrea was commanded by Captain Lord Henry Paulet and she carried a crew of 212 men, whereas ‘La Glorie’ carried a crew of 280 men. The first gun was fired at sunset and only after a long and severe battle did the French frigate strike her colours just before midnight. 

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In 1796, HMS Astrea was then dispatched to the West Indies with a large convoy where she eventually participated in the capture of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada from the French. Shortly thereafter the greater part of the British fleet was withdrawn altogether from this part of the world. 

In 1808, commanded by Captain Edmund Heywood, Astrea escorted the mail packet ship ‘Prince Earnest’ past the danger of Caribbean privateers. Heywood, thinking that Anegada was Puerto Rico, wrecked upon the deadly horseshoe reef on 23 March. 

The coin is available in Virenium®, a metal developed by Pobjoy Mint which is light gold in colour. This stunning coin will be presented in a Pobjoy Mint presentation pouch, with a special Collector’s Album to house all coins in this series. The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II produced exclusively by Pobjoy Mint. 

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