The U.S. Mint and the National Bank of Belarus dominated the first round of Coin of the Year balloting by an international panel of judges.
In voting that concluded Dec. 17, three of 10 award categories were won by the United States and two categories were taken by Belarus.
Winning countries in the other five categories were Austria, the British Virgin Islands, Denmark, Italy and Mongolia.
Coins in the competition are dated 2007.
The George Washington Presidential dollar won the voting in the Most Popular Coin category.
Winner of the Most Historically Significant honor was the silver dollar struck by the U.S. Mint to mark the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.
The Best Contemporary Event coin, which commemorates an event that occurred less than 100 years ago, was taken by a U.S. silver dollar commemorating the racial desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957.
The Best Crown Award was taken by a .925 fine silver 20-rubles coin of Belarus for Pancake Week, which occurs just before Lent and also marks the end of winter and the awakening of nature, according to the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus. It is similar to Mardi Gras in Western Europe.
Belarus also won the Most Inspirational category with a 1,000-ruble coin marking the Cross of the Saviour and St. Euphrasyne of Polatsk. A convent there is one of the most sacred sites in the country. The coin is an unusually large 100mm and weighs 1,083.80 grams of .925 fine silver.
Austria’s .925 fine silver 10 euro for Melk Abbey won the Most Artistic category.
A century of color photography celebrated by a $50 silver coin of the British Virgin Islands was voted Most Innovative. The coin’s owner can insert a personal photo in a removable frame. The coin is a large 65mm and is five ounces of .999 fine silver.
Denmark claimed the Best Gold Award with a 1,000 kroner coin depicting a Polar bear, which marks the International Polar Year.
Best Trade Coin honors go to Italy for a bi-metallic 2 euro that has a portrait of Dante, author of the Divine Comedy. This category honors coins that are actually used in circulation.
The Best Silver Coin is from Mongolia. The silver 500-tugrik shows a wolverine and has diamond eyes. The theme of the coin is Wildlife Protection.
From these 10 winners the judges will select the Coin of the Year. Deadline for the second and final round of voting is Jan. 12, 2009.
Also, the People’s Choice Coin of the Year will be selected by online vote of the public after the deadline is reached Jan. 4. Voting for that started in November.
The awards will be given Feb. 7 at a special ceremony at the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany, sponsored by World Coin News, sister publication of Numismatic News.