This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Numismatists and mint directors oohed and aahed over the beautiful white rhino design on the Coin of the Year, a 2009 100-rand gold coin from the South African Natura series.
However, the coin’s designer, Natanya van Niekerk, made an impassioned plea to those in attendance at the 28th annual COTY Awards ceremony not to forget the animal.
She recited poaching statistics and emphasized the necessity of human action to save the species from extinction.
The Coins of Southern Africa 1901-2000
Her remarks not to forget the animal went beyond the usual pleasantries of an award ceremony to point out how all those in attendance could make a real difference.
Van Niekerk had been called forward by South Africa Mint’s Managing Director Andile Mvinjelwa to join him after he accepted the top award Jan. 28 at the World Money Fair in Berlin from World Coin News Executive Editor David C. Harper.
The other top award, the People’s Choice, was won for the fourth year in a row by the Hungarian Mint.
Accepting the award recognizing a 5,000-forint silver coin for Budapest was Ferenc Gaal, the general director, and Terez Horvath, commercial director.
Earlier in the week at the Berlin show Horvath confessed to being a little embarrassed by winning the award yet again and half jokingly and half seriously suggested that perhaps a Hungarian coin not be nominated for the next competition.
There were 10 category awards given at the COTY ceremony.
Named Most Historically Significant was a 100-tenge silver coin from the Kazakhstan Mint for Attila the Hun.
Accepting the award trophy and certificate was Farit Tuganbayev, the mint’s director.
To mark an historical event that happened less than 100 years ago, the Best Contemporary Event Award was won by a 10-euro silver coin marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In accepting the award, Paris Mint President Director General Christophe Beaux noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy thought so highly of the coin that he had given it as a diplomatic gift to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Best Gold Coin Award was won by the South African white rhino 100 rand and this category triumph was the launching point to winning the Coin of the Year Award in the second round of voting by an international panel of judges.
The President of the Royal Canadian Mint Ian Bennett was called forward twice to accept awards. The first time was to receive the Best Silver Coin honor for the silver $20 Crystal Snowflake coin that had precious gems embedded in the design.
Bennett joked that you could find many such snowflakes in Canada during this time of the year.
The second time Bennett accepted the Most Artistic Coin Award for a gold $300 coin featuring a colorized design of the Native American Summer Moon Mask.
Taking the Best Crown Award was a silver 20-euro coin with the theme of “Peace and Security.”
Receiving the Most Popular Coin Award was Andrea Lang of the Austrian Mint for its silver 10-euro Basilisk of Vienna coin.
Matti Rastas, the Mint of Finland’s vice president of customers relations and sales, accepted the award.
A trio accepted the Best Trade Coin Award to Slovakia’s circulating 2-euro coin. The Kremnica Mint’s general director, Vlastimil Kalinec, was joined by Stanislav Suja and Dagmar Flache of the bank note and coin department of the National Bank of Slovakia.
Winning the Most Innovative Coin Award was the British Indian Ocean Territory for a 2-pound silver and crystal coin marking the life cycle of the sea turtle.
Taya Pobjoy accepted on behalf of the Pobjoy Mint, which struck the coin that was noteworthy as having a blue translucent crystal with an image of a turtle surrounded by a ring of silver.
She said she was pleased her small mint achieved international recognition.
The Most Inspirational Coin Award went to Poland for its silver 10-zlotych coin marking the Polish Underground during World War II.
Accepting the Award were Leszek Kula of the Mint of Poland and Piotr Mück of the National Bank of Poland.
The 2011 Coin of the Year Awards honored coins dated 2009. Nominations for the awards to be given in 2012 for 2010-dated coinage can be made by anyone. E-mail photos and nomination information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view more photos of the Coin of the Year ceremony.