The American Numismatic Association (ANA) has honored several numismatists who not only lead by example, but pave new avenues within the numismatic hobby. Recognized for their dedication, hard work, passion and contributions, these recipients were acknowledged at the Chicago World’s Fair of Money during the ANA Member & Celebration and the 130th Anniversary Awards Banquet.
Those being recognized are:
- Kellen Hoard for the Young Numismatist of the Year
- Kerry Wetterstrom for the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service
- David Vagi for Numismatist of the Year
- David Alexander for the Lifetime Achievement Award
Young Numismatist of the Year: Kellen Hoard
The ANA recognizes that the future of the hobby depends on the recruitment and education of young numismatists. The Young Numismatist of the Year award honors young collectors for outstanding contributions to the hobby and industry. Receiving this year’s award is Kellen Hoard, due to his devotion to the ANA and his outstanding hobby involvement.
At just 17 years old, the Washington resident has already become a distinguished presence in the numismatic community. A practiced writer, Hoard is actively involved with the Numismatic Bibliomania Society and the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association. In 2019 the high schooler led the Summer Seminar Session 2 Young Numismatist Benefit Auction, which raised thousands of dollars for YN scholarships, and last year, he co-taught an ANA eLearning Academy course on how to keep young collectors engaged. The astute teen effortlessly bridges the gab between collectors young and old, sharing hobby insight with those of all ages. “He is a voracious learner, outgoing with a wonderful, quick sense of humor and has a very kind spirit,” says ANA Numismatic Educator Sam Gelberd. “YNs like Kellen are going to help secure the future of the hobby for many years to come.”
Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service: Kerry Wetterstrom
Not only has the field of numismatics greatly impacted Kerry Wetterstrom, but the collector also has heavily influenced the hobby, which is why the ANA has conferred upon him its highest honor: the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service. Wetterstrom has been steeped in numismatics for nearly as long as he can remember, after his great aunt Bertha gifted him a Whitman folder for cents dated 1941-61.
Today, numismatics is Wetterstrom’s career and avocation. Living in California, Canada and then Denver gave him access to a variety of coinage. At just 14, Wetterstrom purchased his first ancient coin from former dealer Tom McKenna and that same year, he decided to join the ANA. “The ANA has had the greatest impact on my numismatic life,” says Wetterstrom. “As soon as I was able to drive, I started visiting ANA headquarters.” While there, he met Glenn Smedley, Ken Hallenbeck and (at the time) ANA Librarian Geneva Karlson, who answered his questions and helped guide him. In 1978 he attended his first ANA convention Houston. During his high school senior year he founded a student club for coin and stamp collecting at John F. Kennedy High School. That summer, Wetterstrom received a scholarship from the Denver Area World Numismatists to attend the 1979 ANA Summer Seminar, where he met numismatist Q. David Bowers. It was Bowers’s course “All About Coins” that convinced Wetterstrom he wanted to be in the coin business someday.
A few months after graduating high school, Bob Rhue, owner of Aurora Gold & Silver Exchange, hired Wetterstrom to work as a part-time sales clerk while he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Rhue taught him how to grade coins. He worked with Rhue until 1987, when he accepted a position as auction director of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (CNG, then Classical Numismatic Auctions), a role that took him to the East coast and abroad. He lived in London in 1991 and after he returned to the States he edited a book about Parthian coinage.
Robert W. Hoge, ANA Museum curator at that time, contacted Wetterstrom and fellow collector David Vagi about teaching Hoge’s ancients class at Summer Seminar. They accepted, making 1993 their first year as co-instructors. To this day, he dispenses his encyclopedic knowledge close to home and across the nation. He has traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, presenting numismatic talks in 12 states; he’s lectured everywhere from school classrooms to civic association meetings.
By the end of the millennium, Wetterstrom purchased The Celator, a monthly magazine devoted to ancient and medieval coinage, from its founder Wayne G. Sayles in 1999. Over the next 13 years, he edited 156 consecutive issues of the printed publication. Under his management, it received multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He bid adieu to his labor of love in 2012 and the following year, he returned to CNG as a senior numismatist, a position he still holds today.
The active collector is a fellow of the American Numismatic Society and the Royal Numismatic Society. He also belongs to the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, the Red Rose Coin Club of Lancaster and 16 other organizations, several of which he’s served as president. A few of his accolades include the Central Pennsylvania Numismatic Association’s James Wagner Award (1994), Krause Publication’s Numismatic Ambassador distinction (1998) and the Red Rose Coin Club’s Paul Haleman Award (2000). Earlier this year, the New York International Numismatic Convention recognized Wetterstrom with its Richard Margolis Medal of Merit for his 20 years of contributions as the organization’s chairman of education. He has also amassed several awards from the Association.
As an ANA club representative, he facilitates educational program in central Pennsylvania each year and is well-known on the convention circuit, as he’s been an ANA exhibit judge since 1996. In addition to numerous journal articles, he’s penned scripts for the ANA’s Money Talks radio program and serves as contributing editor for The Numismatist. A guru of both world and local history, Wetterstrom volunteers weekly for the Lancaster County Historical Society. His numismatic expertise has been recognize nationally, as he has testified twice before the U.S. Department of State Cultural Property Advisory Committee regarding restrictions on the importation of numismatic material.
“One of the things I enjoy the most about the ancient coin market is how it truly is an international market,” says Wetterstrom. “I have been able to travel to various countries over the years, where I have met many collectors and dealers, some of whom have become good friends. All of these experiences have helped expand my worldview, and I realize that a hobby like coin collecting unites people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds.”
Numismatist of the Year: David Vagi
The Numismatist of the Year award, first presented in 1995, was established to recognize individuals who have demonstrated long-term leadership in the field and service to the Association. Their accomplishments should have a significant impact on the numismatic community. The 2021 Numismatist of the Year is David Vagi.
A lifelong numismatist, Vagi became fascinated with coins when he was 8 or 9. Although his parents supported his hobby, he says his interest was completely self-driven. He began studying ancient Greek and Roman coins in the 1980s. Taking instructor Robert Hoge’s course on ancient coins at the 1985 ANA Summer Seminar sealed Vagi’s fate as a professional numismatist. “From that week onward, I studied ancient coins academically and with purpose, converting my private fascination into something large and more promising,” he said. “Without my involvement in the ANA, I likely would have taken a different path in life.”
Vagi earned degrees in history and journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and studied at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). He started his numismatic career in 1990 as a staff writer for Coin World and has worked in various capacities at Christie’s, Superior Galleries, Spink America and R.M. Sythe. He opened and ran his own business, Delphi International Ancient Art, from 1996 to 2008.
By far the most challenging and rewarding position of his career is his current one as director of NGC Ancients, which he’s held since 2008. Vagi finds coins appealing because they make history tangible. He considers what it would be like to study the Roman Empire without any physical remains. “Without such proof, one might wonder if its rich history was entirely legend. Surviving objects, such as coins, bring the past to life.”
A prolific author, Vagi also brings coins to life for others through his writing. For more than 25 years, he has penned a column every month for a major numismatic publication, including Coin World, The Celator, Numismatic News, World Coin News and the Numismatist. His 1,294-page Coinage and History of the Roman Empire received multiple “book of the year” awards and is considered one of the leading references on the topic. Additionally, he is a contributing author to six other numismatic books and served as editor (1994-97) of SAN, the Journal of the Society for Ancient Numismatics. He also has written scripts for the National Public Radio program “Money Talks.” His research and writing have earned him numerous accolades, including “Best Column” writing awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild, two ANA Presidential Awards and an ANA Heath Literary Award. He was also named one of Coin World’s 100 Most Influential People in Numismatics, 1960-2020.
Vagi is a life member and fellow of the American Numismatic Society and a life member of the ANA, for which he has taught more than 20 weeklong courses on ancient coinage at Summer Seminars. Fans of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars might have spotted him on the show – he has made frequent appearances as a resident coin expert since 2014.
Vagi says he appreciates receiving the ANA’s Numismatist of the Year award “not only as a top honor, but because it’s unusual for a recipient to be a specialist in ancient coins. I trust this reflects the rising profile of ancient coins within the numismatic community.”
Lifetime Achievement Award: David Thomason Alexander
In honor of his extraordinary accomplishments in the field of numismatics, the ANA has bestowed its 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award on historian, writer and cataloger David Thomason Alexander. From museums to magazines, Alexader has maintained a vast record of professional involvement in the industry, and though he retired in 2013, his hobby activities have not slowed.
Alexander’s career began when he was in his early 20s – in 1963 he secured a position as the director of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida (now known as the HistoryMiami Museum). For the next decade or so, when he wasn’t at the museum, he could be found studying and preserving numismatic treasures recovered from the wrecks of Spanish galleons slumbering on the ocean floor off Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Whether at work or at play, Alexander’s motivation has always been to engage others in the lore of history and numismatics. He accomplishes this through presentations and, more often, writing. In 1974 he joined the staff on Coin World and concurrently became the last executive editor of The Numismatic Scrapbook magazine. He developed a keen interest in historical and art medals and has written extensively on these topics, including two books: American Art Medals, 1909-1995: Circle of Friends of the Medallion and Society of Medalists (2010), published by the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and Medals of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at New York University: An Under-utilized Resource in American Medallic Art (2019), one of the first books electronically published by the Newman Numismatic Portal. (The former text received the Professional Numismatists Guild’s Robert Friedberg Award in 2011.) In 1998 he founded the Medal Collectors of America, which has expanded into a robust group of dedicated scholars with its own journal and series of art medals.
Alexander also has written profusely for Stack’s Bowers Galleries, where he worked as a cataloger for 22 years. Prior to Stack’s, he shared his cataloging skills with several other firms, including Johnson & Jensen, Kagin’s, Numismatic Auctions of Florida and his own company, Alexander Numismatic Services.
Throughout these many pursuits, he has become a bit of a reference manual himself, and he is happy to share a page from his book with those eager to learn. In the late 1980s, he taught collecting basics classes at a community college in Miami and has served as an ANA Summer Seminar instructor several times. He’s given a slew of audio-visual presentations at ANA conventions and as part of an ANS seminar series. There’s no doubt that his participation in Toastmasters International with his wife, Pat, has played a role in helping him perfect his excellent presentation skills.
In addition to the ANA, the 81-year-old is a member of many other notable organizations. He is a charter member of the Florida United Numismatists (1955) and has served as editor of the American Israel Numismatic Association’s publication, The Shekel (1981-82); executive director of the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG, 1982-90); and president of the New York Numismatic Club (2005-06). He also has held several roles for the ANA, loaning both his expertise and his medals to the Association. He has served as a district delegate (1990), the ANA historian (1992-99), a member of the Education Committee (1993-95) and as the banquet chair of the 1997 New York City ANA Convention.
The adventurous collector’s numismatic awards far outnumber his club memberships. His writing alone has earned him dozens of accolades, such as the Society for International Numismatics’s Writer of the Year distinction (1963) and Silver Medal of Merit (1990), the NLG’s Clemy Award (1987), the ANA’s Wayte and Olga Raymond Memorial Literary Award for his article “Selling America’s Rarest Coin: The 1933 Double Eagle” (2003), the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award for Excellence in Numismatic Writing (2010) and the Token and Medal Society’s Silver Mishler Award for Numismatic Cataloging (2020). He was listed in Coin World’s “Most Influential People in Numismatics, 1960-2020.” Previously, the ANA has recognized him with the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (1999), Medal of Merit (2000) and the Numismatist of the Year distinction (2013), along with four Presidential Awards.
Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics
The Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics honors women who have made significant contributions in the field. This year’s recipient is Ellen Feingold, the curator of the National Numismatic Collection (NNC) at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
Outstanding District Representative
Each year, the Association honors an Outstanding District Representative who sets the standard for promoting the hobby and ANA-member clubs throughout the country. This year’s recipient, Robert Mellor, has also been recognized with the 2021 Lawrence J. Gentile Sr. Memorial Award for Outstanding Adult Advisor.
Introduced Into the Numismatic Hall of Fame
In an effort to recognize the most important collectors, scholars and hobby professionals of all time, the American Numismatic Association maintains the Numismatic Hall of Fame (HOF) at its Colorado Springs headquarters. ANA historian Jack W. Ogilvie proposed the Hall of Fame in the mid-1960s. By 1969 bylaws were drafted, and the HOF inducted its first honorees that same year. The next group was enshrined in 1970. with subsequent honorees inducted every two years. Today, individuals are recognized annually, with “modern” numismatists inducted in odd years, and “historic” personages in even years. This year, the HOF welcomes two familiar hobby luminaries – Barbara J. Gregory and the late D. Wayne (“Dick”) Johnson.
Find our who was honored by the ANA in 2020.