The American Numismatic Association’s 2021 Numismatist of the Year award goes to David Vagi, an ancient coin expert whose two-volume reference on Roman Empire coins is a prominent work in this field. Field of study.
According to the citation from the ANA announcing Vagi’s selection for this honor, the award was first awarded in 1995, was created to recognize individuals who have demonstrated long-term leadership in the field and service to the Association. Their achievements are expected to have a significant impact on the numismatic community.
A longtime numismatist, Vagi became fascinated with coins at the age of 8 or 9. Although his parents supported his hobby, he says his interest was completely self-sustaining. He began studying ancient Greek and Roman coins in the 1980s. Taking instructor Robert Hoge’s course on ancient coins at the 1985 ANA Summer Seminar sealed Vagi’s fate as as a professional numismatist. âStarting this week, I have studied ancient pieces in an academic and focused manner, converting my private fascination into something bigger and more promising,â he said. “Without my involvement in the ANA, I probably would have taken a different path in life.”
Vagi graduated in History and Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and studied at the University of Manchester (UK). He began his numismatic career in 1990 as an editor for World of coins and has held various positions with Christie’s, Superior Galleries, Spink America and RM Smythe. He opened and ran his own business, Delphi International Ancient Art, from 1996 to 2008.
By far the most challenging and rewarding position of his career is his current position as Director of NGC Ancients, which he has held since 2008. Vagi finds pieces appealing because they make history tangible. He reflected on what it would be like to study the Roman Empire without any physical vestige. âWithout such proof, one might wonder if its rich history was just a legend. Surviving objects, like coins, bring the past to life.
A prolific author, Vagi also brings coins to life through her writing. For more than 25 years, he has written a monthly column for a major numismatic publication, including World of coins, The Celator, Numismatic news, World coins news and the Numismatist. Its 1294 pages Currency and history of the Roman Empire has received several “book of the year” awards and is considered one of the leading references on the subject. In addition, he is the author of six other numismatic books and was editor (1994 to 1997) of SAN, the Journal of the Ancient Numismatic Society. He also wrote screenplays for the national public radio program “Money Talks”. His research and writing have earned him numerous accolades, including the Numismatic Literary Guild’s âBest Columnistâ writing award, two ANA Presidential Awards and an ANA Heath Literary Award. He was also named one of the Currency of the world â100 most influential people in numismatics, 1960-2020. “
Vagi is a Life Fellow and Fellow of the American Numismatic Society and Life Fellow of the ANA, for which he has taught over 20 weeklong ancient coin courses at summer seminars. History Channel fans Pawn stars might have spotted him on the show – he has made frequent appearances as a resident coin expert since 2014.
Vagi says he appreciates receiving the ANA Numismatist of the Year award ânot only as a great honor, but because it is unusual for a recipient to be an antique coin specialist. I hope this reflects the growing profile of ancient coins within the numismatic community. ”
Vagi will be celebrated at the ANA World Money Fair during the 130th Anniversary Awards Banquet on August 13 at 7 p.m. ET.