By Jesse Robitaille
Canadian numismatist Scott Douglas, president of the Ontario Numismatic Association (ONA) and South Wellington Coin Society, was honoured as an “Ambassador” at the 65th-annual Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention this January.
Douglas was among a contingent of about a dozen Canadian coin collectors who attended the Jan. 9-12 show in Orlando. Taking place about a week before the annual New York International Numismatic Convention, it’s the first major numismatic event of the year in either Canada or the United States.
“I am particularly pleased to receive this award as not many Canadians have, and I am thrilled,” said Douglas, who’s only the second Canadian to earn the Numismatic Ambassador Award.
“With this award, I join an esteemed group of numismatists, and I feel very privileged to be included amongst them.”
Deeply involved in numismatics since 1992, Douglas also currently serves as the first vice-president of the Canadian Paper Money Society; the chair of the Canadian Association for Numismatic Education; and a board member of the J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation.
The Ambassador Award is just the latest honour for Douglas, who also received the J. Douglas Ferguson Award “for distinguished service to Canadian numismatics” in 2018 and ONA Award of Merit in 2010. He’s also a Fellow of both the ONA and Royal Canadian Numismatic Association.
Now, Douglas joins about 400 past ambassadors who have been honoured for their numismatic dedication since the award program began nearly 50 years ago.
Past Canadian winners include Brett Irick, who was among the 2018 class of recipients, and Paul Johnson, who was honoured in 2009.
Launched in 1974 by former CCN consultant and then-editor of Numismatic News Clifford Mishler, the Ambassador Award is “given to unsung heroes at the grassroots level of coin collecting, as well as nationally known numismatists,” according to organizers with FUN.
The Florida-based club took over the reins in 2015, a year after Numismatic News’ parent company stopped overseeing the program due to its cost.
A service award, it recognizes numismatists from around the world “who have given countless hours of service to their local, regional, or national organization,” organizers added.
In the program’s first year, 13 ambassadors were chosen. Today, only five are selected each year.
In addition to Douglas, the other four Ambassador Award winners for 2020 include:
- David Crenshaw, the chief operating officer of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets;
- Patrick Heller, the communications officer and former owner of Liberty Coin Service;
- Kim Kiick, the executive director of the American Numismatic Association; and
- David Menchell, an exhibitor, exhibit judge, ANA Summer Seminar instructor and the officer of several numismatic organizations.
They received their honours – a plaque and a pin – on Jan. 10, during the Ambassador Award Breakfast held in conjunction with the four-day show in Florida.
Anyone can nominate an ambassador. Once organizers receive them, the nominations are sent to all surviving ambassadors, of which there are more than 200, for voting.
“That requires a lot of votes to win,” said Douglas, who added more than a third of those ambassadors voted this year.
To nominate someone for next year’s Ambassador Awards, visit funtopics.com/ambassador.html or contact Tony Swicer at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 5823, Lake Worth, FL 33466.
‘VERY LARGE’ SHOW
The FUN Convention boasts more than 1,500 dealers, a much-anticipated sale hosted by Heritage Auctions and a range of competitive exhibits, of which Douglas also served as a judge.
“Of course, I was pleased and honoured to do so,” said Douglas, who was one of 30 judges.
“The exhibits were amazing, consisting of 159 cases submitted by 30 exhibitors.”
With more than 8,000 attendees this year, the convention “can only be described as an event just because of the immense size,” he added.
“The FUN show is a very large coin show. … In Canada, we can only dream of a public attendance of 8,000-plus and 1,900 dealers. Not only that, admission is free.”
Over four days, FUN officials recruited more than 500 new members to join their club.
“It is really hard to draw a fair comparison to any Canadian show,” said Douglas. “I always enjoy the show, and I am surprised by the faithful Canadians – 12 to 15 regulars that I know of – that seem to attend each year. As a Canadian, we get to go south for some nicer weather and attend a great coin event at the same time. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Established in 1955, FUN is marking its 65th anniversary this year.
Over the years, the club has made numismatic history several times, according to its website. One of these memorable events was in 1959, when the club was only four years and held the first major silent auction in coin-convention history.
“Officials in Jacksonville would not allow the group to conduct their regular member auction without paying a $2,500 fee. Instead blackboards were placed around the room which listed the number of the auction lots. Bids were taken on slips of paper, then posted on the boards with additional bids taken up to a closing time when the high bids were declared the winner. Not a word was spoken.”
The 2021 FUN Convention will be held next Jan. 7-10 at the same venue, the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
For more information, visit funtopics.com.