Coin News

Volume 36, Number 3, March 1999

The 'Coin of the Year' Awards

Volume 36, Number 3, March 1999

NOWADAYS, it seems, every field of human endeavour must have a competitive element and numismatics is no exception. At the very pinnacle of coinage combativeness are the COTY Awards, sponsored and organised by Krause Publications of the USA. Each year the latest products of the world s mints are nominated in ten categories and subjected to some form of judgment, out of which come the winners in each category. One of these, in a second round of judging, is then deemed to be the Coin of the Year. We have never been sure of the criteria whereby coins are regarded as worthy of consideration in the first place, though it appears that there is no formal submission by the mints. The panel of judges is believed to be global in scope, although we are not aware that any British authority on coinage or the aesthetics of applied art takes part. In fact, the last time we had sight of the panel we spotted the name of Robert Muldoon, one-time prime minister of New Zealand, and six feet under for some years now. The criteria for judging are as mysterious as the judges themselves. What truly objective factors are brought to bear on judging which items are best gold, silver , crown or trade coins, though we are delighted to learn that the Royal Mints £2 Britannia silver bullion coin was judged to be the best crown. How does one judge which coins are best contemporary event or most historically significant ? Is it the events or anniversaries themselves that are judged, or the treatment of the subject? As for most popular coin, does the award in this category to the US platinum 100 dollar Eagle imply that it has achieved better sales than any other coin, which is surely the only way one can accurately measure the popularity of anything? The only categories which can truly be considered objectively are most artistic (the silver rand honouring Women of South Africa) and most innovative which for 1997 was awarded to a joint issue from Kiribati and Western Samoa, each of whose jagged $5 pieces slot together to form a perfect $10 whole. It is interesting to learn that the Pobjoy Mint came top in the most inspirational category with a $10 coin from Sierra Leone showing Princess Diana in earnest conversation with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In our opinion, however, it belongs in a different category. We understand that this coin was actually at an advanced design stage within 48 hours of Diana s death, which surely deserves an award for quickest off the mark, as well as the award for most fortuitous since, by the time of its release, Mother Teresa herself had died on the very day of Diana s funeral. Although this coin was not fortunate enough to scoop the Coin of the Year Award, for this double whammy, it probably deserved it. Personally, we were disappointed that none of the Diana coins showed her comforting a tearful Elton John at the Versace funeral; now that would be truly inspirationall

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