By CoinWeek News Staff….
Every year during the third week of April, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and coin clubs around the country celebrate National Coin Week, a celebration dedicated to the advancement of numismatics and the promotion of coin collecting among Americans of all ages and walks of life.
The theme of this year’s festivities–running from April 19 through 25–is “Building Tomorrows: Inspiration and Innovation at World Fairs”. If you’re familiar with classic U.S. coins, medals and tokens, then you know how important World’s Fairs and Expos have been to the history of American Numismatics. It was at the 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago that the very first U.S. commemorative coin–the Columbian half dollar, featuring a portrait of Christopher Columbus engraved by Charles Barber on the obverse and the Santa Maria engraved by George Morgan on the reverse–made its debut, inaugurating the Classic Commemorative era that ran intermittently until 1954.
Not incidentally, 2015 marks the centennial anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which was commemorated by one of the most beautiful commemorative coin programs ever undertaken by the United States. The Barber/Morgan half dollar and gold $2.50 quarter eagle gold coins, the Charles Keck gold dollar, and the amazing Robert Aitken gold $50 round and octagonal coins are some of the highlights of the Classic series.
National Coin Week itself is almost as old, having started 92 years ago.
According to the ANA, it was Julius Guttag that came up with the concept of a weeklong promotion of coin collecting and scholarship in 1923. He broached the idea to then-ANA President Moritz Wormser and by February of the next year, the ANA’s first National Coin Week was a success.
In 1982, the minting of the first modern U.S. commemorative coin (the 1982 Washington half dollar)–along with the upcoming release of the 1983 and ‘84 Olympic commemorative coin program–inspired Congress to authorize President Ronald Reagan to issue a 1983 proclamation declaring the third week in April “National Coin Week”, giving the goals and activities of the ANA every year a major boost.