Baron Adrien Victor Joseph de Gerlache de Gomery (2 August 1866 – 4 December 1934) was an officer in the Belgian Royal Navy who led the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–99, the first to winter in Antarctica.
In 1896, de Gerlache purchased the Norwegian-built whaling ship Patria, which, following an extensive refit, he renamed as the Belgica. With a multinational crew, which included Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook, Antoni Bolesław Dobrowolski, Henryk Arctowski and Emil Racoviţă, he set sail from Antwerp on 16 August 1897.
During January 1898, the Belgica reached the coast of Graham Land. Sailing in between the Graham Land coast and a long string of islands to the west, de Gerlache named the passage Belgica Strait. Later, it was renamed Gerlache Strait in his honor. After charting and naming several islands during some 20 separate landings, they crossed the Antarctic Circle on 15 February 1898.
On 28 February 1898, de Gerlache’s expedition became trapped in the ice of the Bellinghausen Sea, near Peter Island. Despite efforts of the crew to free the ship, they quickly realised that they would be forced to spend the winter on Antarctica. Several weeks later, on 17 May, total darkness set in, which lasted until 23 July. What followed were another 7 months of hardship trying to free the ship and its crew from the clutches of the ice. Several men lost their sanity, including one Belgian sailor who left the ship “announcing he was going back to Belgium”. The party also suffered badly from scurvy.
Finally, on 15 February 1899, they managed to slowly start down a channel they had cleared during the weeks before. It took them nearly a month to cover 7 miles, and on 14 March they cleared the ice. The expedition returned to Antwerp on 5 November 1899. In 1902, his book Quinze Mois dans l’Antarctique (published in 1901) was awarded a prize by the Académie Française.
The extra thick coin measures 70 by 45 MM in size .
The front and back are a 3D cast zinc alloy with all 3 sides polished and with antique copper plating.
The coin comes in a black velvet pouch!
The antique copper plating is a limited edition – 100.
The tracking codes have the BE prefix.
This item has a unique icon, and is trackable at geocaching.com.