Explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506) was born in Genoa, Italy. Under the patronage of the Spanish royal family, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. These efforts established permanent settlements and initiated Spanish colonization of the New World. Through this, Columbus has been credited as opening up the Americas to European trade.
With economic competition between European kingdoms on the rise, Columbus proposed to reach the East Indies by sailing westward. This daring plan was seen as a chance to establish new trade routes with Asia. In August of 1492, after 36 days of sailing, Columbus set foot on an island in the modern day Bahamas, rather than Japan as he had originally intended.
Returning to Spain a year later, Columbus gave a glowing, though somewhat exaggerated report and was warmly received by the Spanish court. Over the course of three more voyages, he visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire. Though we now believe Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas, his voyages generated lasting European contact with the New World. This inaugurated a period of European exploration, conquest, trade and colonization that was to last for centuries.
In what has become known as the ‘Columbian Exchange’, these expeditions set in motion a widespread transfer on a global scale. Foods from the Americas such as potatoes, tomatoes and corn became staples within Europe, while wheat from Europe became a main food source for people in the Americas. Life would never be the same again.
The Christopher Columbus 2 oz Silver coin marks the second release in the Journeys of Discovery Coin Collection, following the Marco Polo 2 oz Silver coin. This antique-finished, fully engraved and high-relief engraved coin depicts the exhilarating moment Christopher Columbus first lands on a beach in the New World in 1492. The packaging of a protective draw string sack has been designed to model the transport materials to trade around the globe at that time. You can view the coin here.