How Ancient and Modern Coins Show Animals

Bullet Points

Coins With Animals

United States Morgan Wanderer Coin 1921D Crafts

Both pets and wild animals seem to have always interested people. Whether they were on Roman military standards (ensigns), coins, or sacred totems, animal symbols seem to have been very important in making people aware of themselves and letting them express themselves.

Birds have been on coins for as long as coins have been around. There are too many different animals on coins to list them all here. Some coins have two or more animals on them. For example, the rare old coins that Hadrian made have an eagle, an owl, and a peacock on them. This makes it interesting to collect both old and new coins with animals on them.

Most Ancient Coins seem to have horses and eagles on them. Elephants, lions, and turtles, which are pretty rare, are also shown. On the other hand, almost every animal you can think of is on modern coins.

Let’s look at some old and new coins that have animals on them or that have animals on them. The focus will be on a small number of animal coins that, in no particular order, show: There are lions, horses, dogs, wolves, and birds, like eagles and owls, in the park.

Lions on Ancient Coins


The Lydian Third Stater or Lydian Lion Trite (1/3 of a Stater), which some people call “The Coin,” was probably the first coin ever made (c. 610-600 BC). It also seems to be the first coin ever made with a lion on it (or at least part of a lion).

This Lydian Lion coin is the most common one. It is made of electrum, which is a mixture of gold and silver that occurs naturally. Some people don’t agree with this and say that the Lydians already knew how to refine pure gold and silver. They say that the Lydians made these coins by mixing copper and silver with the electrum.

The Lydian Lion Trite has a lion’s head on one side and a punch mark on the other. The mark on the coin was made by an incuse punch, which was used to make coins in the very beginning, when they were first being made.

People think that the lion is the undisputed King of the Jungle. It is a symbol of kingly power and strength. This must be why King Alyattes, who ruled Lydia from 619 to 560 BC and started the Lydian Empire, which is now Western Turkey, wanted a lion’s head on the coins he made.

This was followed by the creation of the “Kings of Lydia” Stater, which was probably the first pure gold coin ever made. It was made by order of Croesus, the king of Lydia (561-546 BC). On the front, there is a lion facing to the right and a bull facing to the left.

The impressive Greek Silver Stater of Sicyon, which was made between about 400 BC and 232 BC, is another old coin worth talking about. The lion-like chimera lioness, which comes from Greek mythology, is shown on the front of this rare coin.

Modern coins show lions.

The word “modern” is used here to refer to all coins that aren’t very old. Unlike their ancient counterparts, it seems like a lot more modern coins have lions on them.

The 2017 Lions Club Commemorative Dollar, which was just released, seems to be the first US coin with a lion on it (s).

The 1781 Libertas Americana Medal had an effect on the Liberty Cap coins of the young, up-and-coming United States at the time.

This well-known medal has a British Lion on it, which is a symbol of the British armies who lost at Saratoga and Yorktown. This could be why lions aren’t usually on US coins (except for the 2017 Lions Club Commemorative Dollar and perhaps a couple of private issues).

Also, the Battle of Bennington is shown on the 1927 Vermont Sesquicentennial Commemorate Half Dollar, which is close to the mark. On the back, there is a mountain lion, cougar, panther, puma, or catamount. This beautiful animal can’t roar like a lion; instead, it purrs like a house cat.

Horses on Ancient Coins

Around 600–550 BCE, the first horse coins were made and given out. They were rare electrum pieces. The front of a horse is shown on these pieces. It was made in Ionia, which is on the coast of the Aegean Sea (present-day central coastal Anatolia in Turkey).

There are too many other rare ancient coins with horses to list here, but one is the Gold Stater of Egyptian pharaoh Nektanebo II (360-342 BCE). This very rare horse coin shows an impressive image of a horse “prancing.”

The most common animal on ancient Roman coins is the horse, followed by the eagle and then the wolf (in particular the she-wolf that cared for Romulus and Remus).

The horses on modern coins

Modern coins with horses on them have been made and are still being made by mints all over the world. There are enough to satisfy almost every collector of modern horse coins.

One could only collect US coins that have horses on them, like US bullion coins. Here’s a list of the most important ones:

• 2016 America the Beautiful – Theodore Roosevelt National Park – 5 oz. Silver Bullion Coin: Theodore Roosevelt riding a horse (reverse)

• The 2015 US Marshals Half Dollar has a picture of US Marshals and a horse on it (obverse).

• The Native Americans and horses on the 2012 Sacagawea Dollar (reverse).

• The 2011 Julia Grant $10 First Spouse Gold Bullion Coin shows Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent courting on horseback (reverse).

• Andrew Jackson on horseback on the 2008 Jackson’s Liberty $10 First Spouse Gold Bullion Coin (reverse).

• 2008 Van Buren’s Liberty $10 First Spouse Gold Bullion Coin – in the background, a man on a horse (reverse).

• Bucking horse and rider on the 2007 Wyoming State Quarter (reverse).

• 2006 Nevada State Quarter – mustangs (reverse).

• 2001 Kentucky State Quarter, a thoroughbred racehorse behind a fence (reverse).

• Caesar Rodney on horseback on the Delaware State Quarter from 1999 (reverse).

• The Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are riding horses on the 1925 Stone Mountain Commemorative Silver Half Dollar (obverse).

• 1915-S US Gold $2.50 Commemorative Panama Pacific Exposition – Columbia on a hippocampus (obverse).

• The equestrian statue of Lafayette on the 1900 Lafayette Dollar (reverse).

Ancient coins with dogs

Dogs on Modern Coins

It is not unusual to see a dog or dogs on old coins. The ancients loved the dog and treated it like a member of the family. It was a protector, a hunter, and a reliable friend.

In short, it’s true that the dog deserves to be called “man’s best friend.”

Some (not ugly) examples of ancient dog coins are: A rare ancient coin with an unknown value (AE13) was used in Thrace, Madytos, and other places (circa 350 BC). It has a dog sitting on the right and an ear of grain on the back (obverse). A sleeping dog is shown on an AES grave Semis of the Roman Republic (around 235 BC), which is a very rare type (obverse).

Many people who collect old coins with dogs on them seem to like the beautiful coins from Segesta, Sicily, which was one of the best places where the ancient Elysian people lived. In ancient times, Segesta was a very successful place to do business. This was before an East Germanic tribe called the Vandals destroyed it.

The dog is one of Segesta’s most recognizable symbols. This had a big effect on their coins, for sure. For example, a very rare Silver Didrachm (461-415 BC) shows a dog on the scent (obverse). A bronze Triantes of Segesta made between 410 and 400 BC is another example.

Modern coins show dogs.


There are a lot of different world coins with dogs on them for people who collect modern coins with dogs on them. Strangely, it looks like there is no official United States coin with a dog on it.

Ancient coins showed wolves.

Wandering Coin Animal Coin Wolf 38MM Antique Silver Dollar Coin United States Morgan Wanderer Coin 1921D Crafts

One of the most well-known old wolf coins is probably the commemorative Bi Nummus (AD 330–340), which was made during the reign of Constantine the Great, also known as Constantine I.

This Roman bronze coin shows the mythical founders of Rome, Romulus, and Remus, nursing from a she-wolf (reverse). It was made to celebrate the beginning of Rome and the founding of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul in Turkey). Byzantium was the name of Constantinople before (until AD 330).

The Silver Hemidrachm, which was made in the city of Argos in Argolis between 468 and 421 BC, is another old wolf coin that is worth mentioning. The front of a wolf facing left is on the obverse. On later coins, the wolf looks to the right.


Wolves are on some new coins.

Wolf coin collectors can choose from a wide range of wolves on modern coins. But it looks like the only US coin with a wolf on it is the 2013 Sacagawea Dollar, which has a turkey, a wolf, and a turtle on it (reverse).

Ancient coins with birds (Eagles and Owls)

Birds on Ancient Coins

In ancient cultures, birds were important, though some more than others. Eagles and owls will be the main focus here, especially since the eagle is probably the bird that appears on ancient coins the most. Ancient Greek coins showed the owl less often, but it was still a very important symbol.

Eagles were interesting to some people in the past, including those in Ancient Rome. The Romans used the eagle, or Aquila, a lot as a symbol on their military banners and coins.

Today, we have access to many old coins with eagles on them, including a good number of Tetradrachms with eagles that were made in the ancient Greco-Roman city of Antioch, which is known as “the cradle of Christianity.”

On these Tetradrachms, the eagle is almost always shown in a bold way. There are also a lot of interesting rulers shown, which makes this “series” very appealing to collectors.

As a sign of wisdom, the owl was seen as the helper of Athena, the Greek virgin goddess who represented the city of Athens. It wasn’t strange that this city, which was the center of Ancient Greece, started to make coins with the Athene noctua or little owl on them (440-404 BC).

People in the past called these coins “Owls.” Athens became known for the “little owls” on her coins, which led to more trade and competition, which are signs of a strong economy.

Coins with owls were also made in other ancient cities and places. But no good collection of old owl coins is complete without the “Owls” of Athens, such as the impressive Athens Silver Tetradrachm (440-404 BC) of the Owl and Athena. On the back of this impressive coin is an owl, olive branch, moon, and the goddess Athena (obverse).

Modern coins show birds (Eagles and Owls)

Collectors of bird coins have a lot of options when it comes to birds on modern coins, such as eagles and, to a lesser extent, owls. This is pretty much the same as with ancient coins.

Like with coins from the Roman Empire, it’s hard to think of US money without thinking of eagles. Eagles are on a lot of US coins, including many US bullion coins. For example, the reverse of the American Silver Eagle shows a heraldic eagle design, the reverse of the American Gold Eagle shows an eagle flying above its nest, and the reverse of the American Platinum Eagle shows different eagle designs (reverse).

Many other eagles on American coins stand out, but here are just a few:

• 1934 Texas Centennial of Independence Commemorative The Texas Lone Star is in front of an eagle on the silver half dollar (obverse).

• Connecticut’s 300th anniversary in 1935 Half Dollar: An eagle sitting on a rocky hill (reverse).

• 1935 Arkansas Centennial Commemorative (in English) Half Dollar: Big eagle against a rising sun (obverse).

• 2008 W Bald Eagle $5 Gold Commemorative Proof – young eagles on a branch near their nest (obverse).

• The 1 oz. Ultra High Relief Gold Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle from 2009 costs $20. It shows a young eagle flying against the sun (reverse).

The 1915-S $50 gold commemoratives for the Panama-Pacific Exposition seem to be the only US coins with an owl on them (reverse). These gold coins were made for the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915. They are now worth thousands of dollars. Even though it’s not a US coin, the 2015 Gilt Niue S$2 Panama-Pacific Commemorative is a cheaper alternative.

This beautiful 2 oz..999 fine silver coin was made to honor the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, which was held in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.


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