Leif Ericson, born on the West Coast of Iceland around 975, arrived in the New World around 1000 A.D. This year marks the millennium of his historic trip!

Various Icelandic sagas tell the story of how Leif and his crew departed from Greenland, a colony of newly arrived settlers from Iceland led by Eric the Red, his father. Eric had been born in Norway, but Thjodhild, Leif’s mother, could trace her family back to the King of Ireland. Leif stepped ashore on a beautiful island, just north of the new mainland; far more fruitful than the one they’d left behind, with plenty of large salmon, wild grapes and self-sown grain. Leif and his crew wintered there and upon their return he named the land “Vinland” for its plentiful grapes and vines.

A camp in Newfoundland was used to explore the southern regions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a likely location of Leif’s Vinland. Some of Leif’s crew may even have gone as far as the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia and possibly beyond to New England.

Later, other Icelanders attempted to establish permanent settlement in “Vinland”. One group survived about three years. Eventually, conflicts with Native Americans drove them back.

Back in Greenland, Leif became the leader of the Greenland colony, and he never returned to Vinland. Instead he told stories about his early explorations, later to be written down in the Icelandic sagas about Vinland.

ABOUT THE COINS:

In an historic first, Public Law 106-126, authorizes the United States Mint to produce coins in conjunction with the minting of coins by the U.S. Mint on behalf of the Republic of Iceland-in commemoration of the millennium of the discovery of the New World by Leif Ericson.

The Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative Coin Program consists of a U.S. silver dollar and an Icelandic silver krónur. The U.S. silver dollar in both proof and uncirculated conditions; the Icelandic silver krónur is offered in proof only. The Mint is also issuing a two-coin set which contains both the U.S. proof and the Icelandic proof coins. The mintage for the U.S. coins is limited to 500,000 (all options), and the Icelandic coin is limited to 150,000 coins.

The U.S. coin is legal tender of the United States and has a face value of one-dollar. The Icelandic coin is legal tender of Iceland with a face value of 1000 krónur. Metal composition of the coins is 90% silver and 10% alloy; diameter is 1.500 inches (±0.003), and the weight is 26.73 grams.

The obverse of the U. S. coin is a portrait rendered in the style of the coin issued by Iceland. The reverse is a Viking ship coming forward to the New World with Leif Ericson at the helm. This coin was designed by two sculptors/engravers of the U.S. Mint. John Mercanti designed the obverse, and James Ferrell designed the reverse. The designs of the coin are emblematic of the millennium of the discovery of the New World by Leif Ericson.

The obverse of the Icelandic coin is an artist’s interpretation of the statue of Leifur Eiríksson made by the sculptor Stirling Calder and presented to the Icelandic nation in 1930 by the United States Congress on the occasion of the 1000 year anniversary of the Icelandic Parliament. The reverse is a stylized drawing of the Icelandic Coat of Arms representing the four guardians of Iceland, an eagle, a dragon, a giant and a bull, guarding the north, east, south, and west of Iceland. The designer behind the Iceland coin is Thröstur Magnússon. He studied at the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts and continued his studies at the Gothenburg School of Arts and Crafts. He has designed several commemorative coins for the Central Bank of Iceland.

Coin Information Provided Courtesy The United States Mint.