World Coins

ANA names Rod Frechette its Numismatist of the Year

The American Numismatic Association’s 2022 Numismatist of the Year is Roderick “Rod” Frechette, a veteran collector, coin club leader in New Mexico and promoter of coin collecting.

Original images courtesy of the American Numismatic Association.

The American Numismatic Association’s 2022 Numismatist of the Year is Roderick “Rod” Frechette.

The Numismatist of the Year award, first presented in 1995, was established to recognize individuals who have demonstrated long-term leadership in the field and service to the association. Their accomplishments should have a significant impact on the numismatic community.

Frechette has been actively collecting since he was 7 years old. He recalls his enjoyment for collecting starting when his fraternal grandfather gave him an 1868 Shield 5-cent coin during an Easter gathering at his grandparents’ house. Later that day, he showed the piece to his maternal grandfather, who responded by pulling out a cigar box full of “weird” old coins that he had pulled from pocket change in the 1920s to the 1950s. He also had some odd-looking silver dimes, quarter dollars, and half dollars from the 1800s. About a week later, Frechette’s folks handed him a 1968 shiny new Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”). He was thrilled to discover that his 5-cent coin was a graded Fine 12 and worth more than five cents. Since then, his excitement for the hobby has only grown.

As an adult, he shares his passion for numismatics as a leader who is also committed to learning and educating himself. He has held every position associated with the Albuquerque Coin Club, including president (2011 to 2013), and continues to serve in various capacities. He is the show bourse chair for the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Coin Club’s two annual coin shows and creates outstanding displays and presentations.

Frechette earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history and the classics and went on to study law, earning a juris doctorate from the Vermont Law School in 1988. He is a criminal-defense attorney with more than 30 years of experience and owns a law practice in New Mexico that bears his name.

Collecting has given Frechette a greater appreciation for the common heritage he shares with people from all over the world. He has assembled an extensive collection of ancient coinage from Greece, Egypt, biblical areas, Republican Rome, Carthage, and Parthia. His other areas of specialty include colonial Latin American coinage and European medieval coinage from A.D. 600 to 1500, with an emphasis on coins from 1323 to 1353, around the time of the Black Death.

Frechette gives talks that educate and capture the imagination of listeners. He is known to take schoolchildren on “Magical History Tours” to get them excited about history and numismatics. During these presentations, he and other members of the Albuquerque Coin Club set up three- to four-dozen coin and paper-money displays and about a dozen on stamps. Dressed in historic costumes, they play the parts of famous figures as the students come through to learn about numismatics. He encourages young people to develop and embrace their “inner-nerd interest in history.”

He has also appeared on television and presented a three-part series on Old Testament biblical coinage on Spectrum TV. He has made additional educational presentations to club and civic groups. He gave a talk in February 2021 on coins of the Black Death for the ANA’s eLearning Academy and organized a “We are Hammered” ancient and medieval study group that summer.

A frequent presenter at coin shows, Frechette’s displays reflect his wide-ranging interests. A few of his award-winning exhibits include “Colonial Mexico’s Silver Coinage, 1542–1812” and “Notgeldmunzen: Nuremburg Tram Tokens, 1920–1924.” Frechette is a life member (one of only four) of the Albuquerque Coin Club and a member of the International Coin Club of El Paso and the U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association.

Frechette, who also was recognized for his dedication to the hobby with a Glenn Smedley Memorial Award this year, says he is tremendously honored and shocked to receive the ANA’s Numismatist of the Year award. He feels like he’s “a child standing on the shoulders of giants.” Numismatics has always been fun for him, but this honor reminds him of the responsibility he has to pay it forward. He has done a lot to further the hobby, but he is far from finished. “There is so much more for me to do, learn, and share.”

The ANA describes him as a numismatist who not only leads by example, but paves new avenues within the numismatic hobby. 

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