The ANA citation announcing Vagi’s selection for this honor states that the award was presented to individuals who have shown long-term leadership in their field and contributed to the Association. These individuals should have had a significant impact in the world of numismatics.
Vagi, a lifelong numismatist and coin collector, became interested in coins at age 8 or 9. Vagi says that his passion was entirely his own. His parents were supportive, but he denies any involvement. In the 1980s, he began to study ancient Greek and Roman coins. Vagi was destined to become a professional numismatist after he took Robert Hoge's course about ancient coins at the 1985 ANA Summer Seminar. He said, "From that week forward, I studied ancient coins academically, and with purpose. This transformed my private fascination into something larger and more promising." "Without my involvement with the ANA, it's likely that I would have chosen a different path in my life."
Vagi received his journalism and history degrees from the University of Missouri. He also studied at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). Vagi began his numismatic career as a staff writer at Coin World in 1990. He has also worked at Superior Galleries and Spink America in various capacities. Smythe. From 1996 to 2008, he opened and managed his own business, Delphi International Ancient Art.
His current position as director of NGC Ancients is by far his most rewarding and challenging. He has held this post since 2008. Vagi likes coins because they make history real. Vagi imagines what it would feel like to examine the Roman Empire without physical remains. "Without such evidence, one might wonder whether its rich history is merely legend." The past is brought to life by surviving objects such as coins.
Vagi is a prolific writer and brings coins to life through his writing. Vagi has been writing a monthly column for a major numismatic publication every month for more than 25 years. These publications include Coin World, The Celator and Numismatic News. His Coinage and History of the Roman Empire, 1,294 pages, was awarded multiple "book of the Year" awards. It is widely regarded as one of the most important references on the subject. He is also a contributor to six other numismatic publications and was editor (1994-1997) of SAN, the Journal of the Society for Ancient Numismatics. He has also written scripts for National Public Radio's "Money Talks." His writing and research have won him many accolades including the Numismatic Literary Guild's "Best Column" award, two ANA Presidential Awards, and an ANA Literary Award. He was also named one Coin World's 100 Most Influential Persons in Numismatics 1960-2020.
Vagi is a fellow and life member of American Numismatic Society, and a lifetime member of the ANA. He has also taught over 20 weeks-long courses at Summer Seminars on ancient coins. Vagi has been a frequent guest coin expert on History Channel's Pawn Stars since 2014.
Vagi said he is grateful for the ANA's Numismatists of the Year award. "Not only because it's a high honor but also because it's rare for a recipient be a specialist on ancient coins." This award reflects the increasing popularity of ancient coins in the numismatic community, I believe."
Vagi will be honored at the ANA's World's Fair of Money Awards Banquet on August 13, at 7 p.m.