Numismatics is the study and collection of coins, paper money, tokens and medals, but at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) it is the people who truly define the hobby. Several individuals will be recognized for their service and commitment to numismatics at the upcoming Chicago World’s Fair of Money, August 13-17.
The ANA established the Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics in 2013 to recognize women who have made notable contributions to the hobby. Named after the former curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection, this honor has been bestowed on many heavy hitters. This year’s deserving recipient, Carrie Best, has been involved in numismatics for more than 40 years.
Best has been extremely active in the hobby as a leader, promoter, mentor, dealer and contributor. Specializing in silver art bars and rounds with themes of Christmas, Valentines and trains, Best deals in U.S. key and semi-key dates and in silver art medals.
A life member and past president (2004-07) of Florida United Numismatists (FUN), Best serves as its treasurer and was co-editor of the organization’s publication FUN Topics for 15 years. She has been Women in Numismatics’ parliamentarian since 2008, and also is secretary/ treasurer of the International Association of Silver Art Collectors and editor of its publication, The Silver Bugle.
Her efforts in promoting numismatics have been recognized by national and state organizations. She received an ANA Presidential Award (1999), as well as a FUN Presidential Award (2011) and its prestigious Award of Merit (2012).
Best has made significant contributions to the hobby, which have had a lasting impact on the numismatic community. The most rewarding part for her has been working behind-the-scenes at coin shows and volunteering with many clubs and organizations. She says, “I am truly honored to have been nominated and selected to receive this award.”
Each year, the Association honors an ANA district representative who sets the standard for promoting the hobby and ANA-member clubs throughout the United States. At the World’s Fair of Money, Ricardo de León Tallavas will be presented with the Outstanding District Representative Award for 2019.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Tallavas developed an interest in coin collecting as a youngster. “It was Father’s Day, and I was 8 years old when my father talked to me about the coins he carried in his pocket as a kid,” he recalls.
Through the years, his passion for the hobby has earned him many accolades. An active member of the Bellaire Coin Club, Greater Houston Coin Club and the United States Mexican Numismatic Association, he still finds time to research and write about Mexican exonumia—his specialty.
Tallavas is a dedicated elementary schoolteacher in the Houston, Texas, area and has incorporated his love of coins into the students’ curriculum. His educational fervor also helps fuel his numismatic enthusiasm, as evidenced by his recurring role as an ANA Summer Seminar instructor. Tallavas is a leading authority on Mexican numismatics, and his classes are well-attended.
Tallavas takes pleasure in sharing his love of collecting on both national and international platforms. Always promoting the hobby, Tallavas oftentimes can be found with a camera around his neck, an infectious smile on his face and a proud glint in his eye as he talks about numismatics.
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 headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Individuals are recognized annually, with “modern” numismatists inducted in odd years, and “historic” personages in even years. This year, the ANA welcomes to this elite group a notable hobbyist, dealer and scholar—Arthur M. Fitts III.
Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1936, Fitts followed the course set by his paternal grandmother, who bequeathed him an 1881 gold coin. The young collector honed his skills by filling blue Whitman folders with examples of circulating coinage, particularly Buffalo nickels, which he favored.
Fitts entered Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1951, followed by four years at Harvard University, where he majored in English history. He went on to become a master at Fessenden, a private boarding school for boys in Newton, Massachusetts. There he started a coin club and shared his knowledge of numismatics with his students.
Fitts joined the ANA in 1955 and today is proud to be life member 951. In 1969 he became a partner in Colony Coin Company in Newtonville and owner in 1978. In 1973 he chaired the ANA’s 82nd Anniversary Convention in Boston. Beginning in January 1974, Fitts served as assistant to ANA Executive Director Edward C. Rochette at the Association’s Colorado Springs headquarters. There he coordinated ANA conventions and was acting curator of the Museum.
A two-term ANA governor (2001-05) and a regular Summer Seminar instructor, Fitts also was a mentor in the ANA Numismatic Diploma Program. He has communicated his enthusiasm for the hobby by delivering more than 25 presentations at ANA conventions across the country, and at least 100 illustrated, educational programs at the local, regional and national level. Over the years, he has contributed scores of feature articles and columns to The Numismatist. With his wife, Prue, also a former member of the ANA Board, Fitts has worked as an ANA national volunteer.
In recognition of his service to the ANA and the hobby, Fitts was presented the ANA’s first Adna G. Wilde Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence (2010). Previously, he was recognized with the Association’s Presidential Award (1994, 1997 and 2009), Medal of Merit (1998), Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2000), Lifetime Achievement Award (2001) and Exemplary Service Award (2006). In 2012 he and his wife were recognized with the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service, the ANA’s highest honor. Arthur Fitts was named a Numismatic Ambassador by Numismatic News in 2001. In 2018 the Fittses established a new annual ANA prize, the Prue and Arthur Fitts Literary Award for Ancient and Medieval Coinage Studies.
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging the study and collection of coins and related items. The ANA helps its 25,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of educational and outreach programs as well as its museum, library, publications, and conventions. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or visit www.money.org.