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 ANA’s 130th Annual Awards Banquet and Member & Awards Celebration during the World’s Fair of Money®.
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.
Feingold was first introduced to the history of money as a graduate student in economic and social history at the University of Oxford. A few months after she completed her doctorate in history, she says she was fortunate to be hired as a project curator in the British Museum’s Coins and Medals Department, a position that greatly influenced her career path. “On my first day of work there, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the field. I’m very grateful to the British Museum for giving me that rare early career training and exposure to such an amazing collection.”
After moving with her husband to Washington, D.C., in 2013, she volunteered with the NNC and was hired as its curator six months later. In her current role, Feingold oversees a global collection of approximately 1.6 million objects that span more than 5,000 years.
As a historian interested in global history, Feingold loves that numismatics allows her to make connections between a wide range of places and periods. “As I open cabinets in the vault of the National Numismatic Collection, I often feel that I am traveling the world, and the objects always inspire new research questions and pathways I had not previously imagined pursuing.” She has written two books, Colonial Justice and Decolonization in the High Court of Tanzania, 1920-1971 (2018) and The Value of Money (2015). Her articles on numismatics and history have been published in multiple journals, including Politico Magazine, Perspectives on History and Financial History.
Through her leadership, Feingold is able to contribute to numismatics and share the hobby with the millions of people who visit the museum. She has served as project director and curator or co-curator of several exhibitions. She is currently completing a long-term project to create a new gallery about money for children called “Really BIG Money.” It will feature some of the largest monetary objects in the NNC and is designed to help elementary school students learn about money and economics. She says she “can’t wait to open this new exhibition in 2022!”
Feingold adds that she is honored to receive this award. As a curatorial successor of Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, Feingold has a deep interest in Clain-Stefanelli’s career at the Smithsonian and her contributions to numismatics. “I am very grateful to the ANA for recognizing my work with this award and for the ongoing support of the numismatics community since I became curator in 2014. I have learned a great deal from many of the ANA’s members and look forward to continuing to learn from them and work together to raise awareness of our field.”
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.
Mellor has made countless contributions to the ANA and the hobby. He is passionate about sharing his experience and depth of knowledge with others and gives many presentations each year to both numismatic and non-numismatic organizations. A regular volunteer instructor on the topic of numismatics for an adult continuing education outreach program, he also conducts a monthly CoinTalk event at his local library and teaches a grading course for the ANA’s Florence Schook School of Numismatics.
An advanced hobbyist, Mellor focuses on grading, attributions, errors and numismatic items associated with early American history. He says, “If it was struck with a screw press, it interests me!”
Mellor’s uncle, Charles V. Housman, was an avid coin collector who introduced him to the hobby when he was 8. Once bitten by the collecting bug, Mellor anxiously searched through the money he earned from his paper route for coins to fill his early blue Whitman folder albums.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology, he embarked on a career in the aerospace industry that has spanned over 35 years. He retired from Lockheed Martin in 2001 as a program launch director and currently supports launch operations for advanced programs within the Department of Defense.
Mellor is a life member of the ANA, an ANA district representative for Florida, an ANA certified exhibit judge and a member of the ANA Outreach Committee. In 2017 he was recognized with the ANA’s Outstanding District Representative of the Year, an accolade the deserving hobbyist has earned once again. He holds memberships in multiple national and local clubs, including the South Brevard Coin Club, where he chairs its education committee. Mellor also volunteers his time with the Combined Organization of Numismatic Error Collectors of America (CONECA).
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.
Born in 1954 in Upstate New York, Barbara Gregory received a bachelor’s degree in English from Alfred University in 1976, and later was employed as a typesetter and editor. Seeking new challenges, she set off for Colorado Springs, where she accepted a part-time editorial assistant position with The Numismatist in 1981. Seven years later, she became the first female editor-in-chief in the Association’s history.
The Numismatist thrived under Gregory’s leadership, transforming from a black-and-white digest to a full-color, award-winning magazine. In 2015 she surpassed Frank Duffield, who led the publication from 1915 to 1942, as the longest-serving ANA editor. Aside from educating and entertaining hobbyists, she felt her most important responsibility was supporting the membership. She gladly accepted articles from new writers and helped them look their best. With the change to the magazine’s large format in 2003, she made the publication more personal by validating readers’ interests and encouraging them to expand their hobby horizons.
A fan of classic cinema, Gregory has assembled one of the largest and most complete collections of movie tokens. She has received the ANA’s
Edward C. Rochette Staff Service Award (2007); two Presidential Awards (1995, 2019); and two Heath Literary Awards (1992, 1996). Numismatic News named her a Numismatic Ambassador (2004); the Numismatic Literary Guild presented her its highest honor, the Clemy Award (2006); and the Central States Numismatic Society bestowed upon her its Sower Award (2020). A proud member of the Rittenhouse Society, Gregory remains active in numismatic publishing.
A respected and enthusiastic author and cataloger, Dick Johnson devoted his energy to the study of 20th-century American medallic art and technology. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2930, he graduated from Rosedale High School and briefly attended Baker University in Baldwin before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1950. During the Korean War, he was assigned to the National Security Agency.
Johnson developed an interest in numismatics and in 1951 attended his first national coin convention, held in New York City. There, he and several other young collectors formed the Rittenhouse Society. He went on to co-found the Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association, and, along with numismatist Walter Breen, edited its publication. In 1954 he enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis, where he pursued a degree in business administration. While in school, Johnson was president of the St. Louis Numismatic Society and was appointed to the Central States Numismatic Society’s board of directors. (In 1962 the latter awarded him its Medal of Merit.)
In 1960 Amos Press asked Johnson to help the Ohio publishing company start a weekly hobby newspaper, Coin World. He remained on staff for 18 months, not long after which he was hired as director of research for Medallic Art Company (MACO) in New York City. He cataloged its products, issued press releases, and edited the firm’s newsletter, The Art Medallist.
Johnson was heavily involved in MACO’s work for the 1976 American Bicentennial. The firm struck its first medal for the milestone celebration in 1972 and moved to a new facility in Danbury, Connecticut, in June of that year. After the event, MACO’s sales dropped, production lagged and staff was cut, leading Johnson to purchase 64,000 medals from the company’s stock.
That inventory was just what he needed to launch a medallic art dealership with fellow enthusiast Chris Jensen. The pair, doing business as Johnson & Jensen, conducted 27 successful auctions from 1978 to 1985, offering 27,000 lots of American art medals and related items to an eager collector base.
In 1987 Johnson became executive director of Collectors Auctions, Ltd., a position he held until 1990, when he retired from sales to write about the medallic art field. In 2012 he received the Carl Carlson Award for Cataloging from the Medal Collectors of America.