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What it Takes to be an Ambassador

Accepting plaques for 2020 Numismatic Ambassador honors are (from left) David Crenshaw, Kim Kiick, Mark Anderson accepting on behalf of David Menchell, Scott E. Douglas and Patrick A. Heller. (Photo courtesy Dave Harper.)

Accepting plaques for 2020 Numismatic Ambassador honors are (from left) David Crenshaw, Kim Kiick, Mark Anderson accepting on behalf of David Menchell, Scott E. Douglas and Patrick A. Heller. (Photo courtesy Dave Harper.)

It was my honor to be recognized in January 2020 by the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) as one of this year’s “Numismatic Ambassadors.” This is an annual award begun in 1974 by Cliff Mishler of Krause Publications (former publisher of Numismatic News) to recognize both heroes at the grassroots level of coin collecting along with nationally known numismatists. FUN took over the program in 2015.

For the first 25 years of the program, an average of 10 individuals were recognized each year. Currently, only five are honored as Numismatic Ambassadors each year.

Although anybody (including yourself) can nominate someone for this award, future honorees are voted upon only by past Ambassadors. I just submitted my ballot for the 2020-21 awards. Here are the criteria for numismatic ambassadors I considered in making my selection:

  • Longevity of numismatic participation: Generally, I think someone deserving this honor should have decades of supporting the hobby, above and beyond just being a collector. One small part of this consideration is the number of numismatic memberships and how many of them are life memberships. In my mind, being recognized as a Numismatic Ambassador is akin to a lifetime achievement award.
  • Service to numismatic organizations: There are many great collectors who have volunteered to serve as officers or committee members of local up to international numismatic organizations, some focused on a geographic area and some to a particular collecting niche. Some nominees are in a position where they are compensated for their numismatic service (coin dealers or paid employees or numismatic organizations) but there are many more who serve with no financial remuneration.
  • Published numismatic articles and books: Have you contributed content to print or online numismatic publications or authored, edited, or contributed to one or more books? In the future, this category will certainly include numismatic audio and video production.
  • Making numismatic presentations to collectors organizations and the general public: Many collectors love to share their passion with other collectors. It is even more of a challenge to make engaging presentations to school classes, Scouts, 4-H groups, churches, senior citizens groups, and fraternal organizations.
  • Innovations: There are a variety of ways to be an innovator; one is groundbreaking research. Another would be creating a new channel of communication about numismatics, or someone could start a collector group in a new numismatic niche. Still another would be any work that resulted in a new coin or paper money design or program, up to possibly being a coin designer.
  • Previous recognition of contributions to numismatics: Those who have already been honored for their efforts stand out.

The nominees for consideration as next year’s Numismatic Ambassadors often achieved several of these factors. I found it difficult to narrow down my vote to only five of the candidates. Of those who are not honored next January, I hope to see several of them re-nominated in future years.

In the meantime, what are you doing where you can call yourself a numismatic ambassador?

Editor's Note: The nomination deadline for 2020/2021 Numismatic Ambassadors was Oct. 1.

Patrick A. Heller was honored as a 2019 FUN Numismatic Ambassador. He is also the recipient of the American Numismatic Association 2018 Glenn Smedley Memorial Service Award, 2017 Exemplary Service Award 2012 Harry Forman National Dealer of the Year Award, and 2008 Presidential Award winner. Over the years, he has also been honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild (including twice in 2019), Professional Numismatists Guild, Industry Council for Tangible Assets, and the Michigan State Numismatic Society. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Michigan and writes Liberty’s Outlook, a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 AM Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at

Read more by Pat Heller.