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U.S. coins head COTY finalists

The first round of balloting in the Coin of the Year Award competition resulted in strong showings by the U.S. Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint, but included winning designs from nine countries.

Finalists for the COTY were chosen in 10 nominating categories for 2006-dated coins. For the first time, a People?s Choice Award will also be selected based on ballots cast at NumisMaster.com.

Where the United States shone was in the Most Historically Significant category where a commemorative silver dollar depicting Benjamin Franklin as an old diplomat and struck to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth won the vote. It is cataloged as KM-388.

The U.S. Mint also topped two other categories with the Nevada state quarter, KM-382, showing galloping mustangs, the wild horses of the area. The copper-nickel coin was named by the judges to be the Best Trade coin, meaning that it circulates, and Most Popular, which often boils down to sheer mintage numbers.

Canada came through with the winner in the Most Innovative Coin category with a series of four $50 silver coins depicting constellations at seasonal points in the night sky. They are KM-672-675.

A tie in the Most Inspirational category gave the Royal Canadian Mint its other honor with its 25-cent piece with a colorized pink ribbon called ?Imagining a World without Breast Cancer,? KM-685.

Finland joined in the tie with a Nordic gold 5-curo coin, KM-123, that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the demilitarization of Aland Island.
Austria maintains its competitive run with a successful category winner in Best Gold. The 100-euro coin, KM-3136, depicts the Vienna River Gate.

The Best Silver Coin honor was taken by Japan for its commemorative marking the 50th anniversary of the country being admitted as a full voting member of the United Nations. The colorized silver coin has a denomination of 1,000 yen. It is cataloged as Y-138.

France triumphed in the Best Crown field with a gold 10-euro commemorating author Jules Verne?s ?Five Weeks in a Balloon.? The coin, KM-1450, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of the popular writer.

Latvia?s fight for freedom from the Russian state in 1918 is the theme of the winning silver 1 lats coin, KM-82, that took the top spot in the Best Contemporary Event category. This covers events of the past 99 years.

Most Artistic honors went to Denmark and its 10 kroner commemorating Hans Christian Andersen?s ?The Snow Queen.? The aluminum-bronze coin is KM-903.

With the advent of the People?s Choice Award, these 10 coins and an additional five were put online at www.Numismaster.com for voting. Participants will have until Jan. 15 to register their choice for this new award, while the international panel of judges will make its final choice for Coin of the Year from the 10 category winners.

The extra five coins, which registered well in the judges? voting but did not win their categories, are a silver 15,000-kip coin of Laos called the Laos Mazu, the goddess of safe sea travel, KM-98; Australia?s silver $1 coin showing ?Australia on the Map,? KM-839; Hungary?s 50-forint marking the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising, KM-789; Poland?s silver 20 zlotych, Y-533, which shows a multicolored holographic spider web; and Germany?s Schleswig-Holstein 2 euro, KM-253.

The awards will be given during the World Money Fair in Berlin at the beginning of February in 2008.

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