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Two wins for U.S. Mint

Congratulations to the U.S. Mint for winning two Coin of the Year category awards in the first round of voting by an international panel of judges.

American coin collectors who remember the crazy demand and quick sellout of the gold and silver coins will not be surprised that the recognitions were given to the 2014 cupped $5 baseball coin and the cupped half dollar.

The $5 was honored as Best Gold coin, which features an outstandingly clever design with one side appearing to be the rounded surface of a baseball and the other the recessed pocket of a baseball glove.

The clad half dollar has the same design and might be considered to be redundant at first glance, – it didn’t even sell out – but the category in which it won, Most Innovative, is a clue that there is more at work here than might meet the eye.

Originally, the baseball half dollar was supposed to be a standard flat half dollar.

Why?

Copper-nickel clad is simply too hard a composition to strike as a cupped coin – at least that was the conventional wisdom. Then the Mint’s technical and production people got hold of the problem and proved they could make a cupped copper-nickel coin as well as gold and silver versions.

This puts the U.S. Mint ahead of its peers in this area in the race by world mints to achieve ever better coins, compositions and minting techniques.

That’s what the innovative category is for. It recognizes what is new.

The door is now open for cupped coins to honor the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the moon by Apollo 11. But that is the potential future.

The point of this blog is to recognize an important achievement in the present.

I look forward to being able to extend my congratulations personally Feb. 6, 2016, at the award ceremony at the World Money Fair in Berlin as well as hand over the two category award trophies.

Winner of the top award, the Coin of the Year, has not yet been determined. There will be a second round of Coin of the Year balloting by the judging panel that will conclude Dec. 6.

The U.S. Mint’s two category award winners are in the contest along with eight other category winners from Austria, Canada, Germany, Latvia, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Coin of the Year has been given annual since 1984 by World Coin News, a sister publication to Numismatic News that focuses on world coins.

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

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.