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US Commemorative Coin Series: Quick Bits #41 - Extinct Animals?

 
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 Posted 12/23/2021  09:26 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Designs depicting extinct animals is a popular theme among the world's non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins - everything from dinosaurs to more modern-day animals, such as the dodo bird, have recently been featured.

"How about among the US commemorative coins?" you ask?

Many different animals were included within the coin designs seen during the classic era of US commemorative coins. Most commonly featured, as might be expected, was the American Bald Eagle - the eagle appears on 11 different coins of the series. Though endangered at one time, the bald eagle did not go extinct and, through diligent conservation efforts, has recovered and been removed from the Endangered Species list.

Other featured animals - horse, moose, owl, dolphin, badger - were/are all doing fine and have no extinction concerns. Several coins of the classic era, however, did feature an animal that is believed to have been extinct at the time of the coin's issue.

Three silver half dollars of the series feature a California Grizzly Bear within their design: the 1925 California Statehood 75th Anniversary, the 1935-36 California-Pacific International Exposition and the 1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Opening issues.

The California grizzly bear was hunted down and killed or trapped due to its frequent run-ins with California's growing human population and the bear's "habit" of killing - for food - rancher's livestock. The California Grizzly Bear was last seen in 1924, the year before the Statehood Anniversary half dollar was released and more than a decade before the other two.

The bear, however, is intertwined in California's history and remains a popular icon/symbol for the state - the animal is even included on the California State Flag! It's not much of a surprise that it would be included on California-themed commemorative coins.

In the "on the road to extinction at the time of release" category is the 1927 Battle of Bennington-Vermont Sesquicentennial half dollar and its catamount. Though the last official sighting of a catamount (eastern cougar) was made in 1938, officials believe that most of its population disappeared during the 1800s due to the deforestation of its habitat and over-hunting. It was thus very close to extinction by 1927. Today, the coin's design presents an officially extrinct animal, as per the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

1925 California Statehood 75th Anniversary


1927 Battle of Bennington-Vermont Sesquicentennial




You can read other of my posts about these coins by visiting: Commems Collection.



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
12/23/2021 09:31 am
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 Posted 12/23/2021  10:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The California certainly is one of the best-designed commems in the series.
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 Posted 12/23/2021  10:11 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add oriole to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Just to add to the confusion, there is no scientific consensus that the eastern cougar is a distinct subspecies from the western version, although there seems to be agreement that the eastern cougar has been extirpated from its original range. It is quite possible that a population could be re-established in the east from animals in the west.

All of this is, of course, irrelevant from a numismatic perspective!
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 Posted 12/23/2021  10:34 am  Show Profile   Check chafemasterj's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add chafemasterj to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
All of this is, of course, irrelevant from a numismatic perspective!


But interesting nonetheless. I hadn't heard that.


And kudos to commems for another fantastically written post.

Check out my counterstamped Lincoln Cent collection:
http://goccf.com/t/303507
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 Posted 12/23/2021  6:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for another informative post. Always interesting looking at coins from a different perspective...
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 Posted 12/23/2021  6:47 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fantastic description of these coins from a completely different perspective.

I never considered the coins animal history - and as such your astute writing has again informed my knowledge of this series.

This thread commems demonstrates again why we deeply respect and enjoy all that you share - your insightful history coupled with exceptional writing style make these must reads.

Take care, be well - and happy holidays
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.jk-dk.art
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 Posted 12/23/2021  9:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the interesting post, @Commems.

I heard my grandfather talking about seeing catamounts in Bladen County, NC, in the '30s when he would go racoon hunting, but I always chalked it up to bobcats. But, I found a dead cougar on the side of Highway 87 near Elizabethtown about 12 years ago. It was almost completely black. I called wildlife officials, showed them a photo, and they confirmed what it was. So, if that was the last one, it remains extinct...
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