US Coins

Women in numismatics unite: From the Memory Bank

Two of the three founders of Women In Numismatics are Sondra Beymer, left, and Mary Sauvain. WIN celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The club's logo was designed by Elizabeth Jones, former chief sculptor-engraver for the U.S. Mint.

Coin World file photos.

Numismatic collectibles, both as a hobby and a business, has been and remains a predominately male domain, about 90 percent male and 10 percent female.

But that statistic does not begin to tell this story.

As the last decade of the 20th century dawned, it was evident that women were increasingly visible both in participation and leadership within the numismatic community in the United States.

Florence Schook, the second woman to be elected president of the American Numismatic Association (1985 to 1987), continued on the ANA Board of Governors. Donna Pope was in her ninth year as director of the U.S. Mint. Ruthann Bretell had become the first woman to be executive head of the ANA. And two of the three leading numismatic publications — Coin World and The Numismatist — had female editors. 

Women were also becoming important players on the commercial side of the aisle. 

Encouraged by opportunities that appeared to be within grasp, three young women who had often seen each other at coin shows took time out of their schedules during the October 1990 Long Beach Expo to discuss what they perceived as an unmet need, an organization supportive of women in numismatics.

The three were:

??Sondra Beymer, a broadcast journalist who had done graduate work in psychology before turning her energies to helping husband Jack build their Santa Rosa rare coin business specializing in early American large cents and type coins.

??Mary Sauvain, a grader/authenticator who left ANACS after six years to found her own company specializing in U.S. Colonial material.

??Teresa Darling, corporate vice president of the Long Beach Expo (responsible for managing three mega shows yearly) and manager of Zaidman and Lopresto Rare Coins and Jewelry Inc.

I was attending the show and was invited to sit in on their “meeting of the minds.” 

Their primary concern was that women who attended coin shows, whether on the business side or from collector ranks, often did not know each other. A way to address the problem, they believed, would be to have an organization whose primary function would be to provide opportunities for members to network as friends as well as professionals. They also saw a need to provide education and professional development.

They named the new organization Women In Numismatics, observing that the acronym WIN would be a bold and declarative statement. The organizational meeting was set for Jan. 7, 1991.

WIN will celebrate its 25th anniversary during the upcoming ANA convention in Anaheim. Congratulations. WIN is a winner!

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