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 Philadelphia World’s Fair of Money, August 14-18.
The Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics was established 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. Among the most deserving is this year’s recipient, Prue Morgan Fitts.
Prior to joining the ANA in 1991, Fitts had little interest in numismatics, However, after inheriting some Byzantine specimens from her father, Fitts’ curiosity was piqued. She subsequently took a course on Roman and Byzantine coinage at the ANA Summer Seminar, and then went on to develop and teach a Summer Seminar class in 2003, “Women in Power on Coins and in Art.”
ANA conventions are a regular stomping ground for Fitts, who often contributes her time as a national volunteer. She regularly exhibits competitively and serves as a judge. She also has given talks as part of the ANA’s Maynard Sundman/Littleton Lecture Series.
Having earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard, Fitts is passionate about sharing knowledge. She helped revive the Women in Numismatics group, previously serving as president, and has organized or participated in numerous young numismatist and Scout programs. She co-founded the Association of Dedicated Byzantine Collectors, where she served as its first, and only, “empress.”
An accomplished author, Fitts noticed the lack of books available to collectors who are new to the field of Byzantine numismatics, so she wrote one. Her Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Byzantine Coins was published in 2015 and is considered a modern classic in the field.
In 2002, Fitts received her first ANA accolade, the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award. Ten years later, she and her husband, Arthur, earned the Association’s top honor, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service (2012). She also served one term on the ANA Board of Governors (2005-07). In 2009 Fitts was the general chairman of the ANA’s World’s Fair of Money in Boston and received a presidential award that same year. Fitts will be recognized at the ANA Annual Banquet on Aug. 17 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
ANA district representatives are the lynch pins of the hobby, promoting and expanding interest in numismatics by working directly with ANA member clubs and collectors throughout the United States. On August 16, Brett Irick of Dearborn, Michigan, will be recognized as the Outstanding District Representative during the ANA Member & Awards Celebration at the Philadelphia World’s Fair of Money in the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Like many collectors, Irick’s love of coins began when he was young and working on a Boy Scout project. He joined the ANA in 1979 and continued to build his collection as time permitted during his 31-year engineering career with Ford Motor Company, where he developed two U.S. patents.
Since retiring, Irick has been more involved in the numismatic community. He is president of the Michigan State Numismatic Society, vice president of the Central States Numismatic Society, and area-director of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association and president of the Windsor Coin Club. (As an ANA district representative, he serves Canada and Michigan.) Irick also is an ANA exhibit judge and has several award-winning displays to his credit, earning the Howland Wood Memorial Award for Best-of-Show Exhibit in 2010. In 2015 he was presented the ANA’s Joseph E. Boling Award for Judging Excellence and the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award.
In an effort to enshrine the most important collectors, scholars and hobby professionals of all time, the ANA maintains the Numismatic Hall of Fame at its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Individuals are recognized annually, with “modern” numismatists named in odd years and “historic” personages in even years. In June 2018, the ANA welcomed to this elite group a notable hobbyist of days gone by—Joseph N.T. Levick (1828-1908).
Born in New Orleans, Levick began collecting coins after he moved to Philadelphia in 1855. In 1860 he relocated to New York City, where he established a numismatic store at the corner of Broadway and 20th Street. During the Civil War, Levick was a Union soldier in the 70th regiment of New York volunteers, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. He was a founding member of both the Philadelphia Numismatic Society (1858) and the New York Numismatic Society (1864).
Levick served the American Numismatic Society (ANS) as treasurer (1867-74), and in 1866 he launched its American Journal of Numismatics, the first numismatic periodical in the United States. The October 1868 issue carried Levick’s first article, “A Table, Showing the Prices Paid for the Five Types of the 1793 Cent, Selected from Twenty of the Principal Coin Sales in the Country, from 1855 to 1868.” He found it difficult to describe the pieces adequately, which led him to present in the April 1869 issue the first photographic plate of coins known in American numismatics. The image showed obverse and reverse die varieties, with lines connecting die pairs. Although just 100 original copies of the well-known “Levick Plate” were produced, it has been reprinted several times.
The American Journal of Numismatics was a costly endeavor, and in 1868 Levick convinced the ANS to explore other avenues of publication. Two years later, the Boston Numismatic Society agreed to oversee the journal’s production, taking it from monthly to quarterly, and reducing its annual subscription from $3 to $2.
Levick joined the ANA in July 1906. He died in September 1908, three weeks after his 80th birthday. Levick’s contributions to numismatics will be recognized at the ANA’s Annual Banquet during the Philadelphia World’s Fair of Money.
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.