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2021 COTY Nominees Determined

Ten coins in 10 award categories vie for Coin of the Year honors.
COTY-Logo-2021

A pandemic won’t stop COTY.

The nomination process for the 2021 Coin of the Year awards looked a bit different this year, but the program is well under way despite travel and gathering restrictions due to COVID-19. One-hundred nominees – 10 coins in each of 10 award categories – emerged after the Nominating Committee met virtually Nov. 3, 2020, to consider 400 coin nominees curated by more than 45 issuing entities from around the world.

The 38th annual awards program, honoring coins dated 2019 and to be presented in early 2021, is presented by World Coin News and sponsored by The Journal of East Asian Numismatics.The competition begins each year when the committee convenes to select the nominees.

The Coin of the Year awards are sponsored by The Journal of East Asian Numismatics.

The Coin of the Year awards are sponsored by The Journal of East Asian Numismatics.

“Our COTY Nominating Committee traditionally has met in person to review and nominate coins from a large printed catalog of potential candidates,” explained Tom Michael, COTY coordinator. “The pandemic made that impossible in 2020, so our team created digital files, devised a two-step nomination process and moved our in-person meeting onto a virtual platform. The Nominating Committee was so pleased with the efficiency of this new approach that we are already planning to adopt many of its elements permanently.”

The change in process also had positive effects on the way coins were nominated, resulting in a broader scope of nominees.

“Completing the first phase of COTY nominating independently, rather than in a group setting, put the spotlight on some of the strengths inherent in our committee,” said Michael. “We all seem to agree on certain coins, but our backgrounds are so diverse that everyone finds a few great coins that the others did not notice.

“The result of this year’s restructured nominating procedure is a wonderful selection of 100 nominees in 10 categories, from more than 45 countries, which will certainly challenge our world-class Judging Panel as they cast their votes,” he said. “You’ll note that some subjects, the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing for instance, made appearances in multiple categories.”

Because the coin nominees are dated 2019, which marked 50 years since the monumental spaceflight that first landed humans on the moon, it was a common commemorative theme among the nominees. Coins marking the historic mission appear in four award categories, nominated by a total of four different countries.

Moon landing nominations in the Best Contemporary Event category came from Belgium, Spain and the United States. The Best Silver category contains a nomination from the United States. The U.S. garnered another nomination in the Best Crown category. And finally, the Most Inspirational category has a contender from Austria.

A complete list of the nominees in each award category follows.

MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT COIN

Coins commemorating events, institutions or individuals deemed highly significant in terms of the historical heritage of a people, a country or mankind. The subject or theme must have passed into historical perspective at least 100 years ago.

Historical category nominations ran the full gambit this year, from pre-recorded history to the 100-year mark, and touched on a wide breadth of subjects.

  • Australia, KM-3069, 5 Dollar, Silver, Mutiny and Rebellion: HMS Bounty
  • Austria, KM-3307, 100 Euro, Gold, Magic of Gold: The Gold of Mesopotamia
  • Belgium, KM-387, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 450th Anniversary of the Death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder
  • France, KM-2755, 10 Euro, Silver, Eras of Europe
  • Great Britain, KM-1730a, 500 Pound, Silver, 200th Anniversary of the Birth Year of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
  • Ireland, KM-99, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 100th Anniversary of the First Dáil Éireann
  • Italy, KM-436, 10 Euro, Silver with Gold, Explorers Series: Christopher Columbus
  • Poland, KM-1038, 10 Zloty, Silver, 200th Anniversary of Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts
  • Portugal, KM-895, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 500th Anniversary of Magellan’s Circumnavigation of Earth
  • South Africa, KM-693, 100 Rand,Gold, Natura Series: Taung Child
The legendary King Nebuchadnezzar II is appropriately featured on the obverse of this 100 Euro of Austria commemorating the Gold of Mesopotamia. Nebuchadnezzer erected a huge golden statue and made his subjects worship at its base. Gold was equivalent to power in Mesopotamia, much as wealth equates to power today. The reverse details a bull’s head from the Golden Lye of Ur created roughly 4,500 years ago.

The legendary King Nebuchadnezzar II is appropriately featured on the obverse of this 100 Euro of Austria commemorating the Gold of Mesopotamia. Nebuchadnezzer erected a huge golden statue and made his subjects worship at its base. Gold was equivalent to power in Mesopotamia, much as wealth equates to power today. The reverse details a bull’s head from the Golden Lye of Ur created roughly 4,500 years ago.

BEST CONTEMPORARY EVENT COIN

Coins commemorating events, institutions or individuals of current or recent events influencing a people or mankind. The subjects or issues must have occurred within the past 99 years.

You never know what types of areas will be covered in the Contemporary category. This year there were coins nominated for scientific, political, economic, military, royal, religious and independence themes.

  • Belgium, KM-395, 5 Euro, Silver, 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
  • Canada, KM-2760, 1 Dollar, Silver, 75th Anniversary of D-Day
  • France, KM-2564, 10 Euro, Silver, Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Japan, KM-287, 10,000 Yen, Gold, 30th Anniversary of the Enthronement of New Emperor
  • Latvia, KM-207, 5 Euro, Silver, War of Independence
  • North Korea, KM-1322, 1 Won, Brass, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
  • Russia, KM-1862, 3 Rouble, Silver, 5th Anniversary of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)
  • South Africa, KM-691, 50 Rand, Bronze Alloy, 25 Years of Democracy
  • Spain, KM-1433, 10 Euro, Silver, 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
  • United States, KM-693, 1 Dollar, Silver, 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
The great popularity of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing event brought many coin issues. Three were honored with nomination in the Contemporary event category, including this curved silver dollar struck for the series from the United States Mint. Notice the use of the curve to produce a fish-eye lens effect.

The great popularity of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing event brought many coin issues. Three were honored with nomination in the Contemporary event category, including this curved silver dollar struck for the series from the United States Mint. Notice the use of the curve to produce a fish-eye lens effect.

BEST GOLD COIN

Coins manufactured from gold, platinum, palladium or another exotic precious metal, which have all-around artistic appeal, both from aesthetic and a commercial standpoint.

Some highly respected series continue to produce coins that get nominated in the Gold category each year. This year the committee was pleased to be able to nominate a number of coins in the category representing a wide array of subjects and design approaches.

  • Austria, KM-3306, 50 Euro, Gold, The Vienna Schools of Psychotherapy: Viktor Frankl
  • Belgium, KM-393, 25 Euro, Gold, 90th Anniversary of the Birth of Audrey Hepburn
  • Canada, KM-2900, 200 Dollar, Gold, Early Canadian History
  • China, KM-2491, 100 Yuan, Gold, Art of Chinese Calligraphy
  • France, KM-2739, 200 Euro, Gold, Woman of French History: Marie Curie
  • Hungary, KM-979, 50,000 Forint, Gold, Saints of the Árpád-Dynasty: Saint Margaret
  • Mongolia, KM-399, 1,000 Togrog, Gold, Wildlife Protection: Gobi Bear
  • Portugal, KM-902b, 7.5 Euro, Gold, 500th Anniversary of Magellan’s Circumnavigation of Earth
  • South Africa, KM-692, 50 Rand, Gold, Africa’s Big 5: Lion
  • United States, KM-710, 100 Dollar, Gold, American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin Series
Africa’s Big 5 series features gold and silver strikes of the majestic symbols of African wildlife. This one-ounce gold 50 rand provides outstanding views of the lion from three angles. The design is so vibrant that you can look into the eyes and sense their character.

Africa’s Big 5 series features gold and silver strikes of the majestic symbols of African wildlife. This one-ounce gold 50 rand provides outstanding views of the lion from three angles. The design is so vibrant that you can look into the eyes and sense their character.

BEST SILVER COIN

Coins manufactured from silver, which have all-around appeal, both from an aesthetic and a commercial standpoint.

If you are strongly traditional collector, the Silver category is a great place to find quality coins for any modern collection.

  • Australia, KM-3073, 5 Dollar, Silver, Versailles Centenary
  • Austria, KM-3304, 20 Euro, Silver, Reaching for the Sky: The Dream of Flight
  • China, KM-2465, 10 Yuan, Silver, World Heritage: Ping Yao
  • Germany, KM-379, 20 Euro, Silver, 100th Anniversary of the Bauhaus
  • Italy, KM-437, 10 Euro, Silver, Italy of Arts: Duomo of Milan
  • Latvia, KM-204, 5 Euro, Silver, Latvian Poet Kārlis Skalbe
  • Netherlands, KM-409, 5 Euro, Silver, 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden
  • Portugal, KM-899a, 5 Euro, Silver, Endangered Flora: Tuberaria Major
  • Ukraine, KM-973, 5 Hryvnia, Silver, The Cold Ravine
  • United States, KM-693, 1 Dollar, Silver, 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11
When architect Walter Gropius founded the “Bauhaus” in April 1919, design embarked on a new world experience. Art and craft combined at the academy to bring the simplest aspects of our lives a sense of style they never had before. This coin pays homage to that dawning of the Bauhaus and its influence.

When architect Walter Gropius founded the “Bauhaus” in April 1919, design embarked on a new world experience. Art and craft combined at the academy to bring the simplest aspects of our lives a sense of style they never had before. This coin pays homage to that dawning of the Bauhaus and its influence.

BEST CROWN

Coins with all-around appeal, both from an aesthetic and a commercial standpoint. Consideration should be given also to the unique theme which the coin reflects, and how the coin fits historically into the “crown” definition, including a minimum size requirement of 37mm and a maximum size of 45mm.

While the Crown category holds some excellent traditional style coins this year, we were surprised by a few coins with special features. It is also interesting to note that the Mongolian Gobi Bear 500 Togrog represents the end of a long running series, whose first issue was a top COTY award winner in 2009.

  • Australia, KM-3072, 5 Dollar, Silver, The Earth and Beyond: The Sun
  • Canada, KM-2786, 5 Dollars, Silver, 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Her Majesty Queen Victoria
  • Cook Islands, KM-1889, 5 Dollar, Silver, Titanium, Chang’e-4: Space Panda
  • Cyprus, KM-107, 5 Euro, Silver, 30th Anniversary of the Founding of the University of Cyprus
  • France, KM-2566, 10 Euro, Silver, Gilt, Rhodium, Paris’ Treasures, City of Lights: Eiffel Tower
  • Hungary, KM-964, 2,000 Forint, Copper-Zinc, National Memorial Sites of Hungary
  • Japan, KM-Y284, 1,000 Yen, Silver, Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020: Judo
  • Lithuania, KM-253, 20 Euro, Silver, Lithuanian Castles and Manors
  • Mongolia, KM-389, 500 Togrog, Silver, Wildlife Protection: Gobi Bear
  • United States, KM-689, 1 Dollar, Silver, 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11
Mongolia’s Wildlife Protection series began in 2007 with the Gulo Gulo, which won the Best Silver Coin award and took the overall COTY honors that year. The bold, front -facing design and use of crystals for the eyes were in use for this series right up to the end. Often imitated, the high relief and crystals were modified throughout the series’ life as technologies advanced. The last coin in the series features the Gobi Bear. It has been nominated in the Best Crown category as a fitting bookend to a stellar run.

Mongolia’s Wildlife Protection series began in 2007 with the Gulo Gulo, which won the Best Silver Coin award and took the overall COTY honors that year. The bold, front -facing design and use of crystals for the eyes were in use for this series right up to the end. Often imitated, the high relief and crystals were modified throughout the series’ life as technologies advanced. The last coin in the series features the Gobi Bear. It has been nominated in the Best Crown category as a fitting bookend to a stellar run.

BEST CIRCULATING COIN

Coins that are made of non-precious metals, possess all-around appeal, both from aesthetic and commercial viewpoints, and best meet the basic considerations of actual circulating monetary units.

This year the COTY Nominating Committee recognized a good selection of what could be called “uplifting” coin themes and placed these coins in categories other that the traditional Inspirational section.

  • Australia, KM-2963, 50 Cent, Cupronickel, International Year of Indigenous Languages
  • Brazil, KM-2963, 1 Real, Bi-Metallic, 25th Anniversary of Real Introduction
  • Canada, KM-2757, 1 Dollar, Brass-Plated Steel, 50 Years of Progress in Advancing LGBTQ2 Rights
  • Germany, KM-380, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 30th Anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall
  • Greece, KM-315, 2 Euro, Cupronickel, Nickel-Brass, Greek Poet Andreas Kalvos
  • Hungary, KM-980, 50 Forint, Base Metal, 2019 FIE World Fencing Championship in Budapest
  • Japan, KM-Y269, 100 Yen, Cupronickel, Copper, Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020
  • Panama, KM-169, 1 Balboa, Bi-Metallic, Jornada Mundial de la Juventud: World Youth Day
  • Peru, KM-418, 1 Sol, Nickel-Brass, Endangered Wildlife of Peru: Andean Mountain Cat
  • United States, KM-695, Quarter-Dollar, Cupronickel, America the Beautiful: American Memorial Park
Read this reverse design of the Royal Australian Mint issue carefully and you can learn 14 indigenous words for “money” or “coin.” That’s just a small representation of the 120 Australian indigenous languages currently spoken on that continent. It’s great when circulating coinage helps to educate!

Read this reverse design of the Royal Australian Mint issue carefully and you can learn 14 indigenous words for “money” or “coin.” That’s just a small representation of the 120 Australian indigenous languages currently spoken on that continent. It’s great when circulating coinage helps to educate!

BEST BI-METALLIC COIN

Coins which reflect the concept of a ring coinage, where outer ring and inner center are made of different, contrasting metals. This includes struck-through inserts, but excludes appliqués. Coins should have all-around artistic appeal, both from aesthetic and a commercial standpoint.

Each year at the COTY Nominating Committee meeting, one or two unusual bi-metallic coins are presented. This is often the category where you might find an anticipated dark horse candidate.

  • Austria, KM-3305, 25 Euro, Silver Niobium, Artificial Intelligence
  • Canada, KM-2750, 25 Cent, Brass, Cupronickel, Bronze, 35th Anniversary of the First Canadian in Space
  • Egypt, KM-1034, 1 Pound, Bi-Metallic, New Capital City of Alamein
  • Estonia, KM-90, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 150th Anniversary of the Song Celebration
  • Finland, KM-293, 2 Euro, Nickel-Brass Center, Copper-Nickel Ring, Finnish Constitution Act of 1919
  • France, KM-2560, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 60th Anniversary of Asterix
  • Great Britain, KM-1693, 2 Pound, Cupronickel Center, Nickel-Brass Ring, Captain Cook
  • Kazakhstan, KM-421, 500 Tenge, Silver with Tantalum Insert, Tobyl Oishyly (Tobol Thinker)
  • Poland, KM-1028, 5 Zloty, Bi-Metallic, Discover Poland: Frombork Cathedral
  • Vatican, KM-517, 2 Euro, Bi-Metallic, 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Sistine Chapel
The bi-metallic collecting field is used to coins with rings of metal, but this nominee presents a bi-metallic coin with a figural-shaped center section. The Kazakhstan Mint created this coin in tribute to Tobol Thinker, a stylized stone sculpture stored at the National Museum of Kazakhstan. The center section is made of tantalum and goes completely through the obverse to reverse of the coin. This sculptured shape makes it a most unusual bi-metallic coin.

The bi-metallic collecting field is used to coins with rings of metal, but this nominee presents a bi-metallic coin with a figural-shaped center section. The Kazakhstan Mint created this coin in tribute to Tobol Thinker, a stylized stone sculpture stored at the National Museum of Kazakhstan. The center section is made of tantalum and goes completely through the obverse to reverse of the coin. This sculptured shape makes it a most unusual bi-metallic coin.

MOST ARTISTIC COIN

Coins are selected solely on the value of their outstanding artistic merit. No consideration should be given to their commercial potential, theme or popularity.

Requiring a subjective and personal perspective, the Artistic category of COTY often provides unexpected outcomes. This year there were more than enough strong coins in this category to satisfy any taste.

  • Canada, KM-2838, 20 Dollar, Silver, Eagle Feather
  • China, KM-2487, 80 Yuan, Gold, Auspicious Culture
  • Cook Islands, KM-1887, 5 Dollar, Silver, Trapped
  • France, KM-2567, 10 Euro, Silver, Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • Italy, KM-437, 10 Euro, Silver, Italy of Arts: Duomo of Milan
  • Latvia, KM-205, 5 Euro, Silver, Painter Niklavs Strunke
  • Palau, KM-603, 10 Dollar, Silver, Flowers: Poppy
  • San Marino, KM-585, 5 Euro, Silver, International Forestry Day
  • Switzerland, KM-175, 20 Franc, Silver with Color, 100th Anniversary of Circus Knie
  • Tanzania, KM-114, 1,000 Shilling, Silver with Pano Technology Plating, Nano Panda
The artistry with which this coin was created will convince your eyes that it is “L”-shaped. Physical inspection reveals that the coin is actually a flat, not three-dimensional, piece. Additionally, all its design elements combine to create a remarkably realistic depiction of the Berlin Wall. The soldier with rose breaking through the wall provides the final touch as an allegory of the fall of the wall.

The artistry with which this coin was created will convince your eyes that it is “L”-shaped. Physical inspection reveals that the coin is actually a flat, not three-dimensional, piece. Additionally, all its design elements combine to create a remarkably realistic depiction of the Berlin Wall. The soldier with rose breaking through the wall provides the final touch as an allegory of the fall of the wall.

MOST INNOVATIVE COIN

Coins best fitting the term “innovative concept in coinage.” Pioneering metallic alloy issues, non-typical coinage materials, planchet shapes, distinct visual themes or other innovations. Special consideration should be given to technological advancements that forward minting ideas and mechanics.

As always, the Innovative category seems to be overloaded with excellent competitors. Nominating Committee members each had their favorites and opinions were varied, so expect this category to provide COTY with an exciting outcome.

  • Australia, KM-3071, 5 Dollar, Silver, Black Nickel Plating, Gilt, Echoes of Australian Fauna: Lesser Bilby
  • Canada, KM-2852, 25 Dollar, Silver, High Relief Wolf
  • Cook Islands, KM-1897, 20 Dollar, Silver, Meteorites: Dinosaur Extinction
  • France, KM-2563, 10 Euro, Silver, Mona Lisa
  • Germany, KM-382, 10 Euro, Copper Nickel, Polymer, Air and Motion
  • Lithuania, KM-250, 10 Euro, Silver, Gender Equality
  • Mongolia, KM-386, 500 Togrog, Silver, Numismatic Sculptures: Edelweiss
  • Niue, KM-2278, 5 Dollar, Silver with Swarovski Crystals, Creation of the World
  • Palau, KM-604, 20 Dollar, Silver, Micropuzzle Treasures: Starry Night
  • Tuvalu, KM-416, 2 Dollar, Silver, Silk Road Abacus
While we have had many multi-part coins released over recent years, all of them chose to put both country name and denominations on each section, making them, in essence, separate coins that combined to form a puzzle-like whole. The Gender Equality coin from Lithuania presents two separate pieces, one with the country name and the other with the denomination. Together they make a coin; separated they do not. The designs also must be combined in order to bring the theme of gender equality to completion.

While we have had many multi-part coins released over recent years, all of them chose to put both country name and denominations on each section, making them, in essence, separate coins that combined to form a puzzle-like whole. The Gender Equality coin from Lithuania presents two separate pieces, one with the country name and the other with the denomination. Together they make a coin; separated they do not. The designs also must be combined in order to bring the theme of gender equality to completion.

MOST INSPIRATIONAL COIN

Coins must feature designs devoted to ideas, events, institutions or individuals that best exemplify man’s eternal aspirations for peace, freedom and human rights. Judges shall take into consideration theme, design and artistic merit.

There was an abundance of Inspirational themes on coins dated 2019, so the committee members looked for deeper international meaning to single out the finest examples for nomination.

  • Austria, KM-3302, 20 Euro, Silver, Reaching for the Sky: Moon Landing
  • Benin, KM-105, 1,000 Franc, Silver, 50th Anniversary of Woodstock
  • Canada, KM-2807, 10 Dollar, Silver, 50 Years of Progress in Advancing LGBTQ2 Rights
  • France, KM-2564, 10 Euro, Silver, Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Great Britain, KM-1676a, 50 Pence, Silver, Innovation in Science: Stephen Hawking
  • Latvia, KM-207, 5 Euro, Silver, Latvian War of Independence
  • Lithuania, KM-254, 50 Euro, Gold, Struggle for Freedom
  • Portugal, KM-900a, 5 Euro, Silver, 45th Anniversary of the Carnation Revolution
  • South Africa, KM-691, 50 Rand, Bronze Alloy, 25 Years of Constitutional Democracy
  • Ukraine, KM-979, 5 Hryven, Nickel-Silver, 75th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Liberation
You will find coins of diversity, equality and inclusion scattered throughout this year’s 100 COTY nominations. We are quite pleased to see these themes branching out from their traditional forum in the Most Inspirational Coin category. With this 50 Years of Progress in Advancing LGBTQ2 Rights coin, Canada has provided a focal point for discussion. Not only does this appropriately colorful rainbow coin honor past progress, it also goes a long way towards motivating advancement for the future.

You will find coins of diversity, equality and inclusion scattered throughout this year’s 100 COTY nominations. We are quite pleased to see these themes branching out from their traditional forum in the Most Inspirational Coin category. With this 50 Years of Progress in Advancing LGBTQ2 Rights coin, Canada has provided a focal point for discussion. Not only does this appropriately colorful rainbow coin honor past progress, it also goes a long way towards motivating advancement for the future.

A ballot of these 100 nominees will be sent to an international panel of judges, who will vote for their picks, and one coin will come out as the winner in each category. From there, the Judging Panel will consider these 10 finalists for the ultimate Coin of the Year award. Category awards and the top honor will be given to winners in early 2021. 

For more information about the Coin of the Year awards, including past winners, click here.

To view a PDF of this entire article as it appeared in World Coin News, click here.