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 were recognized for their service and commitment to numismatics during the virtual Membership & Literary Awards and Service Awards, Sept. 1 and 2. (To watch the recorded events, visit money.org/awards-2020)
The Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics honors women who have made significant contributions to the field. This year’s recipient was Dorothy C. Baber.
Born on May 1, 1920, three-and-a-half months before women were granted the right to vote with the ratifications of the 19th Amendment, Baber turned 100 this year and has witnessed a century of progress for women’s rights. An outstanding example of leadership herself, her lifelong commitment to the advancement of numismatics on both a local and national level was befitting the honor the award confers.
Baber has been an ANA member for 52 years. Since 1968, she has served on the Membership Committee, the Convention Committee and the Convention Task Force, and she was involved in the District Representative Program for 15 years. She also has worked as pre-registration chair, assistant general chair and patron chair for several San Diego ANA Anniversary Conventions. Furthermore, she volunteered at the Business and Information Center at ANA shows for 15 years, retiring in 2010 at age 90.
Baber has held a variety of offices in a myriad of other organizations. Notably, she’s held the position of president for seven organizations: La Mesa Coin Club (1974-77), San Diego Numismatic Society (1981), California State Numismatic Association (1987-91), Heartland Coin Club (1994095), Token and Medal Society (1995), California Exonumist Society (1995) and San Diego County Inter-Club Numismatic Council.
In addition to being actively involved with numerous clubs and conventions, Baber has created a tangible legacy. She designed a medal on behalf of the Token and Medal Society in recognition of the 1990 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Seattle, and she served as editor of the San Diego Numismatic Society Bulletin for more than 30 years, during which time the publication won accolades from the ANA and the Numismatic Literary Guild.
Baber’s previous awards number in the double digits. Some from the ANA include the Medal of Merit (1988), Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (1995), Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service (1995), a Presidential Award (1997) and Lifetime Achievement Award (2003), the latter of which she shared with her family.
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 was Gary Parsons.
Parsons has devoted years of service to the ANA and the Oklahoma Numismatic Association (ONA), the latter of which he has served as president and vice president several times. He has represented these organizations at coin shows across the state and has held officer positions for local clubs. He currently serves as the secretary and treasurer for the Indian Territory Coin Club located in his hometown of McAlester.
Parsons has been collecting U.S. coins, bank notes and exonumia for more than 60 years and also is an experienced dealer. In 1966 he earned a degree in business with a minor in history from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and later served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Parsons hopes that younger generations will take an interest in numismatics not only because the hobby has the potential to blossom into a good financial investment, but also because the study of currency reveals the history of our civilization.
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 welcomed to this elite group a notable numismatist, Augustus B. Sage.
Best remembered today for his medallic series, Sage was born in Connecticut in 1842. At 17-years-old, he set forth to educate readers of the New-York Dispatch by contributing numismatic articles.
In 1858, he was one of a small group of men who decided to form an “Antiquarian Society” in New York City for the study of coins and medals. This Society would subsequently be renamed to the American Numismatic Society.
Inspired by the work of George H. Lovett, Sage decided to start assembling a collection of numismatic medals. The intent was to illustrate current events as well as memorialize people and places from the past. The first series referred to the Crystal Palace, the second to the Sugar House and the third depicted Paul Morphy, famous international chess champion.
In 1859, Sage produced four different auction catalogs – more than any other individual in the hobby up to that time – and remained in the profession until early 1861, after which he joined the Union Army in the Civil War as Captain in the New York Infantry Volunteers’ 170th Regiment.
In 1866 the American Numismatic Society launched the American Journal of Numismatics, to which Sage contributed by writing about the “good old days” of the late 1850s.
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 28,000-plus 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.