The Chinese Lunar calendar dates back to 2,600 B.C. but has only
become a source of worldwide celebration within the last 40 years, as
evidenced by the number of different nations that have been issuing
commemorative coins since the 1970s.
Some of these with 2015 issues include Australia, Canada, Great
Britain, Macao, Ghana, Niue, Laos, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tokelau,
Rwanda, Belarus, Palau, and China.
The Year of the Yang begins on Feb. 19, 2015. In China, “yang” is a
broad-based term that can be translated as “sheep,” “goat” or “ram.”
Legend has it that the animal of one’s birth year influences
personality. Those born in the Year of the Yang (2015, 2003, 1991,
1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931) are thought to be clever, faithful,
kind, charming, artistic, and family-oriented. On the downside, an old
saying predicts that only one out of 10 people born in a Year of the
Yang will find happiness.
Genuine lunar year commemorative coins issued by China tend to be
very expensive. For the buyer who doesn’t wish to spend hundreds of
dollars, official Chinese medals from the Shanghai and Shenyang Mints
are a numismatic compromise.
The Shanghai Mint’s annual series celebrating the Chinese zodiac
includes huge (90 millimeters in diameter) bronze or copper medals
struck in high relief. For 2015, one version shows three grazing goats
near a river on one side, and a pattern of flowers on the other. The
design also includes Chinese characters that herald the beginning of
spring after a dark cold winter.
Palau is home to only about 21,000 people, of whom 70 percent are of
mixed race. Many of those have Japanese, Filipino, Chinese and Korean
ancestry. This may be one reason that the tiny island nation issues
Chinese lunar year coins each year. Palau’s 2015 Proof $5 Year of the
Goat issue is notable for several reasons. It is a double-thickness
1-ounce silver piedfort coin, is struck in high relief, has a Matte
Finish, and looks like a ringed-bimetallic piece initially, but isn’t.
The reverse design of this pure silver coin is bordered by a band of
selective gold plating.
The 2015 Tokelau Year of the Goat commemorative coin is also a Proof
1-ounce pure silver $5 piece that makes use of color and different
silver finishes to highlight the belled mother goat and her kid.
The mother and the background grass are mint-colorized, while the
kid and the foreground scenery have a Frosted Cameo appearance.
Tokelau also issued four more Proof variants: gilded, Antique Finish,
Matte Proof, and Reverse Proof.
Australia went all out for the Year of Yang, with silver issues in
denominations ranging from 50 cents (half ounce) all the way up to
$300 (10 kilos). In addition to multiple goat designs, the program
offers coins that are piedfort, high relief, gilded, and colored.
Finally, there are copper-nickel and gold goat coins, too.
Like Australia, Canada has issued multiple designs and variants for
its 2015 Lunar Year series. The four different designs are being
issued in silver and gold versions with denominations ranging from $5
Canada’s Lunar Year $15 issue is traditionally available in either a
round or scalloped edge. However, despite having identical
denominations, the scalloped edge coin contains three-quarters of an
ounce of pure silver while the round edge version contains a full
ounce of silver.
Sometimes, the world coin collector develops an interest in the
animals depicted on Lunar Year coins and decides to pursue those. In
the case of sheep and goats, there are many non-lunar-year issues from
which to choose.
An Angora goat graces a 500,000-lira coin issued by Turkey in 2002.
These goats are the source of mohair fleece, and for enterprising
people, making yarn and fabric from mohair can comprise a home business.
Perhaps this is why the coin bears a quote from Muhammad Yunus, the
Bangladesh-born Nobel Peace Prize winner and father of the
micro-credit loan. It translates as, “Why not a world without unemployment?”
A handsome sheep coin was issued by Cyprus in 1963, one of its first
coins after obtaining independence from Great Britain, and one of its
first decimal issues. It shows the entire animal looking as if it is
jumping, something mouflon do effortlessly. The wild mouflon sheep of
Cyprus is thought to be one of the two ancestors for all modern
domestic sheep breeds.
A coin that features both a sheep and a goat has to make the list
here. The 1970 Somali FAO 5-shilling coin also has a cow in the
vignette. Its inscription GROW MORE FOOD is the theme of a world coin
campaign by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations to encourage food production.
Keep reading about world coins:
coin is the world’s first mint-colored coin?
and the prized horses of Larissa design often focus of ancient
medal design influences German coin
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