Numismatic News editor Dave Harper attended the Beijing International Coin Exposition Nov. 10-12, where he gave a speech to the annual congress of the Coin and Medal Art Committee of the China Numismatic Society (CMAC).
His topic was the Coin of the Year Award Program, which is conducted annually by World Coin News, a sister periodical to Numismatic News. The COTY Awards have been given since 1984 when coins dated 1982 were honored.
Among other events he attended was a special dinner for COTY judges in China as well as designers of Chinese coins that have won COTY awards.
The Text of Harper’s speech is below:
Thank you honored members and guests of the Coin and Medal Art Committee of the China Numismatic Society.
It is difficult for me to believe I am standing here before you today. This event is one I will always remember.
I would like to thank three individuals by name for this opportunity. They are Mr. ZHANG Hanqiao, Mr. WANG An and Mr. SHAO Junzhi.
The Coin of the Year Program that I represent has been an important part of my life for 34 years. I am honored to be accompanied here on this occasion by Clifford Mishler. He is the founder of the Coin of the Year Awards Program. It is he who deserves the credit for the very existence of this program. It was his vision that led to its creation. Who else would have believed it was possible to simply start such a prestigious international honor from a little rural town in Iola, Wisconsin, USA? The population is 1,300. We have a saying that from little acorns mighty oak trees grow. Well, Coin of the Year is now a mighty oak tree. It grew from a little acorn planted in the village of Iola.
It was Mr. Mishler’s dedication to the improvement of numismatics that motivated his actions. He believed then, as we still believe today, that what is good for the advancement of coin designs and the minting process will help all participants in numismatics prosper.
It was Mr. Mishler’s hope that by calling attention to the best work done by the world’s mints that we would get more such good work. By holding up examples each year for recognition, it was and is our hope that history is remembered, that art is celebrated, that innovation is encouraged and that deep friendships are formed through our common interests.
Certainly the track record of our efforts through the years gives me reason to feel that the numismatic world is a much better place now than it was before we started.
When the first Coin of the Year Awards were given in 1984, we truly had no idea that they would carry us here to be with you in Beijing in 2017.
We believed that asking individuals from around the world to be part of an international panel of judges would truly weave the many national fibers of numismatics into one strong international rope that would together pull us all higher.
I have seen this occurring year by year. I was a founding judge. Among that first group of judges, I probably had the least experience.
I was young then. More importantly, I was excited. It was our hope that other people would also become excited and, as a result, the field of coin collecting would benefit.
Back in the early 1980s, fewer countries offered commemorative coins on a regular basis. We wanted to encourage other countries to join this group. Designs in many countries then were stagnant. The same designs were used year in and year out. It was explained to collectors that this was stability. We thought a little more variety would be of benefit to both the mints that issue the coins and to those of us who collect them.
The collecting point of view is important to us. It is important to the Coin of the Year Program. At heart, I am a collector. I am not a scholar, but I had read everything I could find before I took up my pen many years ago. I am still learning.
I began writing because I wanted to share what I knew about coins with others.
I appreciate scholars. What they do is important. I want to see their work more widely appreciated. When coins are more deeply appreciated and recognized by the Coin of the Year Awards Program, I believe the scholars in this field also will be more appreciated.
I am not an artist. But I am deeply touched by how a man or woman of talent, steeped in the culture of coinage and the history of his homeland, can create something that becomes an ambassador of his country to the rest of the world.
Perhaps that is how the original judges chose a Chinese Year of the Dog 20-yuan silver coin as one of the first four coins to win category honors in the very first year Coin of the Year Awards were given for coins dated 1982.
In the second year of the Coin of the Year Awards Program, which was for coins dated 1983, China won three of the six categories. That is half of the awards. Why, you might ask? In the Best Gold Coin Category there was a Chinese Panda. In the Best Silver Category there also was a Chinese Panda. For our international panel of judges to have spotted the Pandas in their second year of issue I think is remarkable. Pandas coins have since become a worldwide numismatic symbol of China.
What also is remarkable is that earlier this year at the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany, I had the honor to give a Lifetime Achievement Award in Coin Design to Yu Min. He is the very same artist who created the silver Panda design that so captivated us as Coin of the Year judges all those years ago. He was unable to be present in Berlin. Now I have come to Beijing. I have waited 34 years to meet him, from the time I cast my first votes as judge. I want to say congratulations and well done. The coin collectors of the world, and everyone else who is active in numismatics, are grateful to him for his work.
Always remember that a door to the world is held open by those of us who participate in numismatics.
We are the first audience for any new coin.
Do we like how it looks? That first impression is due to art.
Do we like the story it tells?
That is history.
Do we like what it is made of?
It might be gold, silver, or base metals.
Does each new coin fit in into some historic role that we all recognize, such as world crown-size coins? We are interested to know.
To identify and thereby encourage more of this common interest in numismatics is the purpose of the Coin of the Year Awards Program. Has it made a difference since the first awards were given in 1984 for coins dated 1982?
I hope so.
I cannot prove it.
But the Coin of the Year Awards Program has grown. In the early days, we did not recognize artists. We do now. It is one of 12 awards that we give. The top award is simply called the Coin of the Year. In addition, we give awards in 10 categories instead of the original four. The panel of judges has grown. The future for the award looks like further growth is possible if we just act to make it so.
I am pleased to be able to report to you that we signed a memorandum of understanding on Nov. 9. It will ensure our ongoing cooperation between my firm, which sponsors the Coin of the Year Awards Program, and CMAC. All Chinese members of the international panel of judges will be nominated by CMAC.
Our process of selecting Coin of the Year Award winners is a straightforward one. We accept nominations during the course of the year until September. These are compiled for the review of the nominations committee. This committee is comprised mostly of current and retired employees of F + W Media, the owner of Krause Publications and Coin of the Year. Thanks to our agreement, there will also be a representative of CMAC on the nominations committee.
It is the responsibility of the nominations committee to create a list of 100 nominations for each year’s Coin of the Year Awards. There are 10 in each category. These categories are Most Historically Significant Coin, Best Contemporary Coin, Best Gold Coin, Best Silver Coin, Best Crown Coin, Best Circulating Coin, Best Bi-Metallic Coin, Most Artistic Coin, Most Innovative Coin and Most Inspirational Coin.
A ballot is created from this list for presentation online to the international panel of judges. They vote. We count the votes to determine which coins win in each of the 10 categories. These 10 winners are then presented online to the judges for another vote to determine which one of these will be declared the Coin of the Year in Berlin, Germany, at the World Money Fair.
This year, the nominations committee met in Iola, Wis., on Oct. 6. The ballot is being prepared for the first round of voting. The second round of voting will be concluded in December.
It is a process that has worked well, and I expect with our new and closer cooperation, it will work even better in future years.
To conclude, I would like to say that because of Coin of the Year, I have made many new friends among fellow numismatists and collectors since the 1980s who also share my enthusiasm for new coins.
I know all of you have a deep and abiding interest in all things related to numismatics. I know that you want to see this field take its rightful place among other specialties that enrich the culture of coins. I hope we can do this together. I am mindful that we have new opportunities for friendships among those of us who share this culture of coins.
I wish all of you continued success. I am grateful to China Gold Coin Incorporation for making my journey here possible. I will be proud to call all of you my friends in numismatics.
Thank you very much.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
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