In the United States, we love animals. Zoos, sports team mascots, cartoon characters—members of the animal kingdom endearingly creep into all aspects of our lives.
We even have animals gracing our coins. In fact, there are several animals on U.S. coins. But we’re not alone in our affection and admiration for our friends in the animal kingdom. Throughout the coin world, dozens of animals appear on all sorts of coins.
Here are six examples where animals appear on gold and silver coins.
The Bald Eagle
Our first three coins feature the same animal. But what an animal it is: the bald eagle.
No other animal graces as many precious metal coins as the bald eagle. That’s because no other animal represents traits so closely associated with a country. As President John F. Kennedy put it, “The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America.”
The bald eagle imagery on gold and silver coins underscores that strength and beauty. That imagery includes:
- The heraldic bald eagle in flight against a backdrop of sun rays and the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the 1 oz. Ultra High Relief Gold Double Eagle Coin.
- The bald eagle of the great seal of the United States carrying an olive branch and arrows in its talons on the 1 oz. Silver American Eagle Coin.
- A bald eagle family—a male flying above a nest clutching an olive branch in his talons, a female eagle in the nest, and two eaglets carefully tucked within the safety of her wings—on the 1 oz. Gold American Eagle Coin.
DID YOU KNOW? Contrary to what you may have heard, Benjamin Franklin did not advocate for the turkey over the bald eagle as the ideal representation of our nation. The confusion likely stems from a letter Franklin wrote his daughter complaining about the original design of the bald eagle for the state seal. He said it looked more like a turkey – inadvertently attaching himself to one of U.S. history’s most outrageous claims.
If any animal could stand in for the bald eagle, it’s undoubtedly the buffalo. Credit the animal's strong spiritual connection with Native Americans, the tens of thousands of buffalo that used to roam the continent, or the fact that three states—Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming—selected the buffalo as their state mammal.
Bolstering the buffalo’s bona fides is its presence on the Buffalo Nickel, or Indian Head Nickel. The U.S. Mint only struck the five-cent piece from 1913 to 1938, but the coin's design was resurrected nearly 70 years later for the 1 oz. Gold American Buffalo Coin.
Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that the buffalo featured on the coin’s design may have been based on an actual buffalo: a massive American buffalo named Black Diamond.
DID YOU KNOW? When the buffalo initially appeared on the Buffalo Nickel, it marked the first time an animal other than a bald eagle appeared on a circulating American coin.
Looking for non-American coins with animals on them? Then check out this Chinese coin that features a large, loveable panda.
In China, Pandas are revered for their strength and peace. And like coins bearing bald eagles, coins featuring pandas are historically very popular.
The panda on the 2017 China 50 Yuan Gold Panda MS-69 (PCGS First Strike) projects strength and peace. The animal sits comfortably and peacefully in a bamboo forest on the coin's reverse side, but the panda's sheer mass suggests great power.
DID YOU KNOW? According to U.S. biologist and naturalist George B. Schaller, the Chinese used to hunt pandas for their pelts because it was believed that sleeping on panda fur could ward off ghosts.
Animals on South African coins include such magisterial creatures as elephants, lions, and rhinos. But the springbok, with its presence on the 1 oz. Gold Krugerrand, tops them all.
That’s because the springbok is South Africa’s national animal. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the springbok is an antelope renowned for its speed and leaping. Its depiction on this gold coin highlights the animal’s strong horns and legs as it traverses the South African terrain it calls home.
DID YOU KNOW? If the springbok seems exotic to you, consider this: another popular South African animal on a coin is the greater kudu—a woodland antelope with spiral horns.
This Zoo is Worth a Closer Look
This might be the only time wild animals can help you secure a more strategic financial future! Shop with U.S. Money Reserve online or over the phone and bring home the herd.