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Austria climbs to top with COTY

Congratulations to the Austrian Mint for winning the 2015 Coin of the Year Award.

Word went out this morning via the Friday Edition of the Numismatic News e-newsletter that a gold 50-euro Austrian coin honoring painter Gustav Klimt was voted the winner by an international panel of judges.

It is not easy to win a COTY Award, but Austria has made it look that way.

In the first round of voting it had three of the 10 category winners, or 30 percent of the trophies.

It is the winners of the categories that comprise the field from which judges choose the Coin of the Year.

Often when multiple winners come from the same place, the voting is divided and another coin issuer wins. That was the not the case this year.

It probably was the case in 1985, the second year the award was given. I choose that year because I happened to be researching some information that my memory failed to provide.

In 1985 the People’s Republic of China swept three of six categories. There were only six categories in that year, so half the field of choice for judges were Chinese issues.

Was China then proclaimed winner of the Coin of the Year as Austria now is? No. With votes split among three issues, none rose to the top.

The United States 1983 Olympic silver dollar was the ultimate winner.

The British Virgin Islands and Egypt were the only other issuers in the second voting round of the competition back in that year almost three decades ago.

This year the winning Austrian coin is dated 2013 as are all other entries (or its equivalent in other calendars).

Why is that?

It is for reasons of fairness and practicality.

World Coin News, the sponsor of the award, wants the coins being considered to be the entire range of issues from the year under review.

If for example, we wanted to consider 2014 coins for the 2015 award it becomes virtually impossible to do this.

Any coin issued in November or December could not possibly be included among the coins considered for an award scheduled to be given Jan. 31, 2015. For that matter, given the sometimes slow notification process for some new issues, coins that were first issued in August, September or October would be problematic since the nominating panel that begins the process met on Oct. 3.

That means by considering the issues of 2013 , the nominating panel had a fairly comprehensive list of issues from that year.

This was followed by two rounds of online voting by the international panel of judges.

The first round, ending on Nov. 9, selected the 10 category winners.

A second round ending Dec. 6 picked the Coin of the Year.

Is this process perfect? No. But it is understandable to all participants and that is perhaps one reason why the COTY awards are so coveted.

Again, congratulations to the Austrian Mint. Accepting award trophies Jan. 31, 2015, at the World Money Fair in Berlin is a nice boost to any mint’s New Year, don’t you think?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."