Geocoins—it’s hard to imagine Geocaching without them, Travel Bugs, or any other kind of trackable. But for an entire year and a half after geocaching was born (in May of the year 2000), that was how geocaching was done. Caching primarily involved using GPS technology to discover ammo cans hidden deep in the woods, then the seekers would write long entries into pre-placed log books.
Not only is Jon a legend of geocaching, he’s also a Charter Member and now works as a System Analyst/Lackey with Groundspeak. We caught up with Jon between bug fixes, forums posts, meetings to keep everyone in the loop, and geocaching on his lunch break, to find out more about how geocoins came to be.
What gave you the idea to place a geocoin?
Back in 2001, I was coming up on my 100th cache find. I wanted a signature item to launch in time for that milestone and had heard about military challenge coins from a fellow cacher. They sounded like the perfect geocaching item – compact, easy to carry, durable – so I designed and minted a set of personalized coins that I dubbed “geocoins.”
When was the first Geocoin placed?
The coin was placed September 30th of 2001. I placed it in a cache that still stands out today in my mind as one of the best (even though it has since been archived) – Light House Point. It involved a rickety aluminum ladder that you could only access during low tide. I climbed the ladder. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it because I have a fear of heights. But knowing I wanted to place that coin in a special cache got me up the ladder.
So the first coin was placed in that cache?
I kept the first one for my personal collection. So it was number two… 002. That was the first one placed.
And then what happened?
I placed it in there and didn’t think that much about it. Well you know, it started off really slowly. It was about 6 months after I placed or minted my coins and placed them that anyone else started making coins that I know of. They became desired items. So rather than people seeing them and moving them on, the goal was to get to it first and keep it for their collection. It was almost like a Beanie Baby craze. There was the Geocoin craze.
How many Geocoins do you think you’ve placed out in the world at this point?
I’ve sent out over 1200 of my Moun10Bike geocoins so far, and over 1500 coins if you count my coinaments (a Christmas tree ornament that is trackable and shaped like a coin)!
How many Geocoins do you own?
I stopped counting in 2006. At that point, it was around 1000. I have at least five times that many now.
What is something that most people would be surprised to learn about you?
Hmmm, I’m pretty boring. Would it surprise people if I said that my wife and son can barely tolerate caching?
Any parting thoughts?
From computers to the web, to gadgets, and then foremost the outdoors, I just couldn’t ask for a better hobby.
Sure is crazy to think that any experiences you’ve had with geocoins, Travel Bugs, or trackables lead back to Jon Stanley. Do you collect geocoins, or geocache with trackables? How have they changed the way you cache? Tell us your stories below!