Every year, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) recognizes members who go above and beyond with their service and dedication to numismatics. This year’s award recipients include, COINage contributor Michael Fuljenz, as well as Eric Holcomb, Prue Morgan Fitts, and Ricardo de León Tallavas.
The honorees will be presented with their awards during the World’s Fair of Money’s Member & Awards Celebration, which is slated for Thursday, Aug. 12 at 3 p.m.
Below are details about the awards and each recipient.
The Adna G. Wilde Jr. Memorial Award for Exemplary Service honors an ANA member who enthusiastically dedicates their time, expertise and resources to strengthen the hobby, and in particular, further the educational mission of the ANA. This year’s recipient, Eric Holcomb, has accomplished this many times over, primarily thanks to his aptitude for the written word.
Holcomb has served as the editor of MintMark, the newsletter of the ANA’s Representative Program, since 2002 (with a brief hiatus from 2006-08). Under his adept leadership, the quarterly bulletin has seen dozens of successful issues. The Oregon resident also lends his writing skills to his local area – since 1996, he has edited the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association’s journal, The Nor’wester. Holcomb also serves as president of the Bend Coin Club of Central Oregon, a position he’s had since 2012.
The retired aerospace engineer has been an ANA member for 42 years and a district representative for 13. In that time, the Association has recognized him with the Outstanding District Delegate award (2013), Presidential Award (2004), Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2014) and Medal of Merit (2017).
The Association’s Medal of Merit is bestowed on members who have dedicated years of service to numismatics.
Prue Morgan Fitts came to numismatics later in life than most and has since become deeply involved on all levels, from personal to quasi-professional. Volunteering at conventions in the mid-1990s fueled her interest in several collecting areas, but she became focused on the Byzantine Empire when she inherited a clutch of gold “scyphates” and solidi from her father. She took ANA Summer Seminar courses on Roman and Byzantine coins and soon became an instructor on the latter topic and earned accreditation as an exhibit judge. She also developed a unique seminar course titled “Women in Power and in Art.”
Fitts regularly shares her enthusiasm with local and regional clubs as well as at ANA events. Her contributions as a lecturer plus her willingness to serve effectively in any capacity as a convention volunteer was recognized with a Glenn Smedley Memorial Award in 2002.
Fitts is empress of the Association of Dedicated Byzantine Collectors and a past president of Women in Numismatics. Her articles on Byzantine coinage, published in The Celator, have been well received. Her book The Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Byzantine Coinage was published in 2015.
Fitts currently serves on the board of the Boston Numismatic Society and the New England Numismatic Association. She is a former Governor of the ANA (2005-07). In addition to the Medal of Merit, Fitts has received ANA Presidential Awards (2004 and 2009), the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award (co-awardee with Arthur Fitts, 2012) and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award (2018). Her record of leadership and accomplishment, as well as her enthusiasm and cheerfulness, is exemplary. The ANA Medal of Merit is a fitting and worthy recognition of her contributions to the ANA and the hobby. Few women have so selflessly devoted as much time, talent and treasure to numismatics.
Ricardo de León Tallavas is the epitome of a numismatic ambassador. He represents the ANA throughout Latin America and is the Association’s district representative for Mexico.
Tallavas is a dedicated elementary schoolteacher and incorporates his love of numismatics into his students’ curriculum. He meets weekly with a coin club composed of fifth and sixth graders nominated by their teachers to partake in this extracurricular opportunity. He provides coins for the kids to research and worksheets for them to record what they have learned. His educational fervor also helps fuel his numismatic enthusiasm, as evidenced by his recurring role as an ANA Summer Seminar instructor. Tallavas is a leading authority on Mexican numismatics, and his classes are well attended.
He has delivered more than 50 lectures outside the seminar programs, many in countries south of the border. He has been a designated representative at six major international conferences of numismatists and historians in almost as many nations.
Tallavas has attended ANA conventions as a national volunteer for over a decade, serving at registration, providing interpreting when needed, and assisting at the Kids’ Zone. He has written or contributed to nine books and over 40 articles, the latter mostly in Spanish-language journals. He is a licensed broadcaster in Mexico and anchored a numismatic program in his hometown before moving to Houston, Texas.
His passion for the hobby has earned him many accolades. He was awarded the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2011), Catherine Sheehan Literary Award (2011) and Outstanding District Representative award (2019), among other honors. He has certainly proven to be worthy of the Medal of Merit, for which the criteria for bestowal are accomplishment of “numerous years of service to the ANA as well as promotion of numismatics.”
This year’s Harry J. Forman Dealer of the Year award recipient is Michael Fuljenz. Fuljenz is a longtime advocate and benefactor of the ANA, as well as a former ANA authenticator, grader and seminar instructor. He is not only an outstanding numismatic educator and community leader, but he also has helped many collectors and dealers who were victims of fraud. His primary focus is combating counterfeits in the marketplace and assisting law enforcement agencies in solving numismatic crimes.
In 2020 Fuljenz provided the funds for an investigative reporter to purchase coins and bullion ingots from the Chinese Internet sales platform Wish. One of the coins was a counterfeit 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle (gold $20) that violated the United States Protection Law for counterfeits. Once, he helped a Louisiana physician obtain a $1 million refund; this is one of many fraud cases he has helped solve. He also has served as a consultant to the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Texas Attorney General.
Fuljenz sits on the boards of the National Coin & Bullion Association (NCBA) and the Crime Stoppers of Beaumont (Texas). The former Numismatist columnist also is a contributor to A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”), as well as COINage, and he teaches numerous seminars on counterfeiting and numismatic crime.
Fuljenz has been recognized with more than 60 Numismatic Literary Guild awards since 1986. Past ANA honors include a Presidential Award (1995), Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2013) and Medal of Merit (2014).
The World’s Fair of Money will take place in Rosemont, Illinois, Aug. 10-14. For more information, visit www.money.org.