A Brief History of Daniel's Coin Zoo
On October 14, 2005 Daniel's Coin Zoo went live with a grand total of 41 animal coins on display. Over the next 100 plus days I worked diligently to get most of my animal coin collection photographed, researched, and added to the Coin Zoo -- bringing the total to 600 world animal coins on display -- then I quit for almost four years. (Except for a few blog entries.)
After the hiatus, in January 2010 I did a major site upgrade and over the course of the year I continued to add coins, most of which were already in my collection. By the end of the year, there were 694 animal coins in the Zoo. Then I quit again.
Fast-forward another two years, to November 2012, and again I made a major upgrade to the website, including switching the main application to a program coincidentally called "Zoo." And that was the start of the real upgrade.
In 2013, I acquired and added 117 new animal coins. In 2014 the new coin count was 147. And so far in 2015 the Coin Zoo has seen 83 coins added. That's 347 coins in the last three years, or about one-third of all the coins displayed in the Coin Zoo, which currently sits at 1,090 pieces.
But wait... there's more! More coins to find, that is. Currently my Need It list sits at just over 350. That means my target collection size is pushing 1,500 and I am three-quarters of the way there. When I was first starting out, a dealer at a coin show told me I would never finish because as my collection grew it would become increasingly harder to complete the set. True, and a good thing too, because I want to keep doing it.
The other thing is that this collection set is a moving target, and it moves for two reasons. First, there are all the existing coins I keep learning about, although, that is getting fewer and fewer. And the other reason is every year brand new circulating animal coins are minted all over the world.
The Coin That Started It All
Well, two coins, really, and that's them at the top of this post.
First, the Irish half-penny with a mother pig (aka "sow") and her five (or six?) piglets. Way back at the beginning of the 21st century I was doing another collection: every circulating coin minted in 1962 -- my "birth year" set. While searching through a local dealer's "treasure chest" of assorted world coins, I came across the Irish pig coin for the first time. Unfortunately it was dated 1965 and I needed to get the 1962 version for my set. Except, it didn't exist. Even though this design appeared from 1928 to 1967, there were none minted in 1962. Boo! Then I thought... should I collect animal coins? Turns out, Ireland has a whole series of animal coins, known as the Barnyard Series.
With that idea kicking around in my head awhile, I found myself wandering around at a Torex coin show in Toronto. As I passed another dealer "treasure chest" -- literally a chest filled with raw world coins -- I saw a shiny gold coin lying right on top: the Peru half-sol. I expressed my delight at this "llama" coin, but the dealer told me it was a vicuña. He also explained how their wool was so soft and luxurious it had been traditionally reserved for the ruler. (And how the "n" had that little squiggle over the top.)
I was impressed, not just with the coin but the dealer's knowledge of the subject matter on the coin. I gave the dealer the asking price -- twenty-five cents -- and the animal coin collection was off the ground.
In my very first blog post ten years ago I suggested I might tell this story one day. It only took ten years, but there you go.