What the Oscars are to the movies, the COTY is to the world mints, and in 2008, the United States was one of the stars.
The U.S. Mint came away from the World Money Fair in Berlin Feb. 2 with three of the 10 category winners in the 2008 Coin of the Year Awards competition. Canada and Hungary claimed the top honors.
Mint Director Edmund C. Moy personally accepted the three awards from Numismatic News/World Coin News editor David C. Harper at a special ceremony attended by world mint directors and their staffs.
A 2006 Benjamin Franklin commemorative silver dollar showing him as an elder statesman was named the Most Historically Significant category winner.
A Nevada state quarter carried two categories. It was named the Most Popular Coin and also the Best Trade coin. The latter category honors coins that are used in circulation.
Moy noted in his acceptance that the individual states are hands on in the design process for state quarters, submitting concepts to the Mint for rendering into artwork and the governors then make a choice that is ratified by the secretary of the Treasury.
This year?s Coin of the Year was actually won by a set of four Canadian $50 palladium coins showing the Big Bear and Little Bear constellations in the night sky as they move with the seasons.
Royal Canadian Mint President and CEO Ian Bennett explained that the four seasonal points at which the constellations were shown were in the night sky of Ottawa at 10 p.m. in the evening.
This set also won the Most Innovative Coinage Concept category.
Bennett also was given the award for the Most Inspirational coin category for a $5 Breast Cancer silver coin showing a pink ribbon.
Finland tied with Canada for Most Inspirational with a Nordic gold 5 euro marking the 150th anniversary of the demilitarization of the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea.
Finnish Mint Director Raimo Makkonen received the award. Harper noted that before the ceremony Makkonen had said the coin should be called the Peace coin because it is easier to say and remember.
France?s CEO of the Paris Mint, Christophe Beaux, accepted the award for Best Crown for a 10-euro gold coin honoring author Jules Verne and his work, ?Five Weeks in a Balloon.?
A 10-kroner coin from Denmark commemorating Hans Christian Andersen?s ?Snow Queen? won the award for Most Artistic coin.
Accepting the award were Hans Denkov, Royal Danish Mint director, and Torben Nielsen, member of the board of governors of Denmark?s national bank.
Maruta Brukle, the head of the coin division of Latvijas Banka, accepted the Best Contemporary Event award trophy for a silver 1 lats marking the country?s independence in 1918.
Dietmar Spranz, president of the Austrian Mint, brought along the designer of the winner of the Best Gold Coin category. The 100-euro gold coin of Vienna?s Rivergate was designed by Helmut Andexlinger. Both men accepted the award from Harper.
Winner of the Best Silver Coin category was a 50th anniversary commemoration of Japan?s gaining a seat in the United Nations.
Receiving the award was Kazuya Izumi, executive director of Japan Mint.
For the first time, a People?s Choice Coin of the Year Award was given. It was won by a Hungarian 50 forints marking the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution against Soviet occupation in 1956.
This coin was the object of heavy online voting in a battle to determine the winner.
Harper noted that the Internet was changing the way everybody did business and how pleased World Coin News was to be able to add this category to reflect the changing nature of the coin business.
Terez Horvath, the commercial director of Hungarian Mint, Ltd., was joined by general director Ferenc Gaal, in accepting the award.
Indicative of how hotly contested the award was, Harper received a telephone call after the conclusion of the ceremony from a Polish journalist who asked who had won the People?s Choice award. He seemed disappointed that the Polish entry had not prevailed. Harper said he was looking forward to a spirited race in the coming year in which Poland would be competing.
The Coin of the Year Awards were begun by World Coin News in 1984 to recognize and encourage creativity in the numismatic field. The next award will honor coins dated 2007. Nominations should be e-mailed to Lisa Bellavin at Lisa.Bellavin@fwpubs.com.
The ceremony was opened by Albert Beck, founder of the World Money Fair.