by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe
February 25, 2016 – Coins do not grow on trees. Coins are being made. How they are being made is decided upon by people. These people are not only the artists and technicians. With their profound insight into the collectors’ desires, marketing departments have come to have significant influence on the choice of designs. When it comes to marketing, Kirsten Petersen surely is the expert. With her 30 years of professional experience at the Royal Canadian Mint and the Austrian Mint, she is one of the most prominent coin market experts. It is not for nothing that the Mint Directors Conference, the Organization of all Mints, elected Kirsten Petersen as Head of the Marketing Committee in 2010. Kirsten Petersen, who was honored with the World Money Fair Award on February 5, 2016, is most likely one of the people who have had a considerable impact on modern collector coin minting.
Numismatics was not something Kirsten Petersen was born with. On the contrary, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Geography, she first turned to Economics, and completed several additional courses in Management and Marketing. In 1981, she started working in sales, first of tools for university lecturers, then products of a major publisher. She was successful, highly successful, a virtual sales genius, who soon began to train other salespersons. This coincided with the Royal Canadian Mint looking for a new Marketing Director of Numismatic Products.
Let’s get back to 1985. The sales figures of modern coins were falling for the first time. The 1970’s boom with easy profits for modest products was over. This was when Kirsten Petersen assumed overall responsibility for the numismatic program of the Royal Canadian Mint. She conducted market research, was involved in product development, and developed new strategies.
Her brainchild from this time – to mention only the most influential one in terms of numismatics – is Canada 125. Even those who have never heard the term are familiar with the principle, for it has been imitated by mints all over the world. On the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the Founding of the Confederation of Canada, the Mint released 12 Quarters, one for every province, featuring a characteristic subject. The unusual thing about this was that the quarters in proof-like quality had such a high mintage that a number of coins actually ended up circulating. This way, the attention of a whole generation of disciples was directed towards the coins. The US American 50 States Program is as much a successor as the German or Austrian coins for the Federal States.
Kirsten Petersen witnessed first-hand how the Royal Canadian Mint evolved into the leader in the production of collector coins. And so it was no surprise that the Austrian Mint, which had been newly formed as stock-corporation in 1989, became aware of her. In 1994, the Austrian Mint appointed Kirsten Petersen new Director International Markets. In this capacity, she was responsible for establishing contacts to the markets in North America and Asia on behalf of the rising Mint.
Yet another coin novelty, which is likewise often imitated, was her idea: Kirsten Petersen was the first to think of a niobium coin. She saw the reservations traditional collectors had regarding the colored coins produced in the 1990s, and suggested that similar effects might be created by using an additional, exceptional metal. She had the idea of using titanium. Two issues were done with this metal but they were not that well received. The color difference of the grey titanium which was rather difficult to mint was not yet the ideal solution. Another member of the Austrian Mint came up with the idea to replace titanium with niobium. The rest is history, which keeps gaining the Austrian Mint prizes for their niobium coins on a regular basis.
World Money Fair Award winner Kirsten Petersen is not only a competent coin market expert. On top of this, she is a woman who, with her amicable and energetic personality, makes the world of modern coins become one great family. It is nearly impossible to not feel comfortable when she is around. She radiates humor and joy of life, and you can tell that she likes people by the way she deals with them. As early as 1999, she received the Vreneli Prize in recognition of her achievements for the minting industry. It was high time, therefore, that she was also awarded the new prize of the World Money Fair. Hardly anyone deserves more than her to receive this honor.