The Numismatic Ambassador Award came to Europe Feb. 7 when it was presented to Albert M. Beck, founder of the World Money Fair that is now held in Berlin, Germany.
Numismatic News and World Coin News Editor Dave Harper gave the award at the beginning of a program to confer the 26th annual Coin of the Year Awards sponsored by World Coin News on the winning mints and central banks.
Harper told a group of about 70 assembled mint directors, their colleagues and other hobbyists that they were witnessing the first presentation of an Ambassador award on the continent.
He noted that when the Ambassador Award was first established in 1974, it was an American award given to American hobbyists whose efforts in organized numismatics were crucial to the success of its many organizations, shows, educational programs, exhibits and publications. That these individuals often worked unrecognized for many years was also true in Beck’s case.
When Beck created the show that became the money fair, it was just a routine coin bourse in Basel, Switzerland, associated with a magazine, MuenzenRevue, that he had also founded. But he had a noteworthy idea. He invited the Royal Canadian Mint to the 10th show in 1981. It came and a new pattern was established. Other mints were invited to future shows. The show then evolved as a convenient place for world mints to meet with each other, their suppliers and collectors. It later moved to Berlin and at this fourth show in the Berlin location there were 52 mints in attendance.
Harper said that he first met Beck at an American Numismatic Association convention many years ago. He covered the same news conferences and events that Harper was assigned to cover, but he had an intensity and focus that produced very good questions and very good articles in his magazine.
A special award booklet for Beck was printed beforehand and distributed to all of the guests at the COTY event. It was later passed out to table holders on the bourse floor and to show attendees. More than one German dealer commented on being handed the booklet, “Ah, Albert.”
But even with the advance preparation, Beck was surprised.
It was so secret that the current president of the World Money Fair, Hans-Henning Goehrum, had to go find Beck and his wife about a half hour before the ceremony began to be sure they did not miss it.
This was the first Ambassador Award presented in 2009. The rest will be given at the American Numismatic Association convention in Los Angeles this summer at the Ambassador breakfast. This new approach to giving the awards was first implemented in 2008.
As Harper noted in Berlin, the Ambassador Award has rarely been given outside of the United States. There are holders from Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina.