By Numismatic News
Ambassador Award came to Europe Feb. 7 when it
was presented to Albert M. Beck, founder of the
World Money Fair that is now held in Berlin,
Numismatic News and World Coin News Editor Dave
Harper gave the award at the beginning of a
program to confer the 26th annual Coin of the
Year Awards sponsored by World Coin News on the
winning mints and central banks.
Harper told a group of about 70 assembled mint
directors, their colleagues and other hobbyists
that they were witnessing the first presentation
of an Ambassador award on the continent.
He noted that when the Ambassador Award was
first established in 1974, it was an American
award given to American hobbyists whose efforts
in organized numismatics were crucial to the
success of its many organizations, shows,
educational programs, exhibits and publications.
That these individuals often worked unrecognized
for many years was also true in Beck's case.
When Beck created the show that became the money
fair, it was just a routine coin bourse in
Basel, Switzerland, associated with a magazine,
MuenzenRevue, that he had also founded. But he
had a noteworthy idea. He invited the Royal
Canadian Mint to the 10th show in 1981. It came
and a new pattern was established. Other mints
were invited to future shows. The show then
evolved as a convenient place for world mints to
meet with each other, their suppliers and
collectors. It later moved to Berlin and at this
fourth show in the Berlin location there were 52
mints in attendance.
Harper said that he first met Beck at an
American Numismatic Association convention many
years ago. He covered the same news conferences
and events that Harper was assigned to cover,
but he had an intensity and focus that produced
very good questions and very good articles in
A special award booklet for Beck was printed
beforehand and distributed to all of the guests
at the COTY event. It was later passed out to
table holders on the bourse floor and to show
attendees. More than one German dealer commented
on being handed the booklet, "Ah, Albert."
But even with the advance preparation, Beck was
It was so secret that the current president of
the World Money Fair, Hans-Henning Goehrum, had
to go find Beck and his wife about a half hour
before the ceremony began to be sure they did
not miss it.
This was the first Ambassador Award presented in
2009. The rest will be given at the American
Numismatic Association convention in Los Angeles
this summer at the Ambassador breakfast. This
new approach to giving the awards was first
implemented in 2008.
As Harper noted in Berlin, the Ambassador Award
has rarely been given outside of the United
States. There are holders from Canada, Mexico,
Costa Rica and Argentina.