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COTY Award Honors Great Mint Work
By David C. Harper, World Coin News
October 14, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Once again the Coin of the Year selection cycle kicks in to high gear. It is always a pleasure for me to participate in this program because it acquaints me with what has been issued by the Mints of the world in a methodical way.

Members of the nominating committee were given 121 pages of new issues covering the year 2012 to sort through. There are books with fewer pages in them than that. And even with 121 pages of material, we were finding issues that had somehow slipped between the cracks.

But we did it. We came up with a full slate of Coin of the Year candidates. The purpose of the nominating committee is to limit the field to 100 contenders, so an international panel of judges is not simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of new coin issues.

At the rate the world mints are issuing new coins, the Standard Catalog of World Coins will have to be broken down by decade rather than by century as it is now. The most recent 21st century volume is 1,056 pages. That gives the very first volume of the Standard Catalog more than a run for its money. That very first volume, which is dated 1972, contained nearly 180 years of listings for some countries and still was just 792 pages.

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The rate the world’s mints are issuing coins has never been higher than it has been in the last few years. That’s pretty good for a monetary medium whose days are supposed to be numbered What accounts for this?

Collectors have been complaining about a proliferation of issues since the 1970s. They are correct, the numbers being issued now dwarf anything that ever happened prior to that decade.

Yet the world’s mints do not exist in a vacuum. Their governments would not let them issue the coins if there was no market for them.

Obviously, somebody is buying them. These buyers might not be the collectors who have sounded off about proliferation in prior years. If that is the case, then it must be new collectors who take an entirely different approach to collecting coins than prior generations did. They have become active clients of the mints or the big marketing firms that sell newly created mint issues. They collect themes and metals that suit their budgets. Mints are appealing to them with ever more innovative designs. Those of us at World Coin News would like to think that we are helping to encourage innovation by having a Coin of the Year category specifically named Most Innovative.

However, as nice as an award might be for a credenza in a mint office, it is the cash money of all these new collector/buyers that is spurring the creation of ever more interesting coins. This trend is likely to continue as mints get ever more creative in attracting new customers.

There probably should be an award for Best Coin Marketing, but there isn’t. The Royal Canadian Mint invented a new niche in 2011 that is now growing and being copied. The RCM started its $20 for $20 coin sales. Who can resist taking $20 cash and exchanging it for a silver coin with a denomination of $20? I couldn’t. Others couldn’t. There is something very appealing about getting new collector coins for face value even if the coin is never spent.

The Coin of the Year program can’t recognize everything mints do, but we do think it identifies mints doing great work.

More Coin Collecting Resources:

• Order your 2013 Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake Coin Set today!

• IT’S HERE! Order the 2014 North American Coins & Prices.

• Get the 2012 Coin of the Year – limited quantities remain!

• See what guides and supplies our editors recommend for keeping up with your collection.


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