HomeClubs & OrganizationsANA Renames Farran Zerbe Memorial Award

ANA Renames Farran Zerbe Memorial Award

ANA Renames Farran Zerbe Memorial Award

The Association’s Board of Governors votes to remove Farran Zerbe’s moniker from the organization’s highest honor


During an open session meeting on January 19, 2021, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Board of Governors honored the wishes of nearly 20 past Farran Zerbe Memorial Award winners by voting to remove Zerbe’s name from the ANA’s highest honor after the 2021 presentation (its 70th year). According to the motion, the accolade will be called the Distinguished Service Award “until such time as the name of an exemplary, deceased ANA member be brought forward to the Board, after vetting by the Awards Committee, for consideration of formal approval with proper funding arrangements for such naming rights.”

A well-known figure in 20th-century numismatics, Joseph Farran Zerbe served as ANA president from 1907-1909. A retrospective look at Zerbe’s professional dealings uncovered accusations that he made deceptively inflated claims about the future value of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition gold dollars he sold; complaints of hucksterism and fraud for his creation and sale of coin-like 1904 gold-plated exposition souvenirs; allegations that he unscrupulously obtained personal ownership of The Numismatist in 1908 from relatives of the ANA’s late founder, Dr. George F. Heath (then ANA Vice President W.W.C. Wilson subsequently purchased the periodical and donated it to the Association in 1910); and claims of bribery involving the 1909 ANA election in which Zerbe’s friend John M. Henderson was named president.

* * *

The American Numismatic Association (ANA) is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging the study and collection of coins and related items. The ANA helps its members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of educational and outreach programs as well as its museum, library, publications, and conventions. For more information, call (719) 632-2646 or visit www.money.org.

Related Articles


  1. Yet another instance of Cancellation in today’s culture of unforgiving intolerance. Claims and allegations and accusations, OH MY… How about some proof and context??
    Farran Zerbe was a working man’s numismatist from humble means and did more to bring numismatics to the masses than anyone of his time or since. Until his appearance numismatics was the providence of the elite, dominated by those with extreme means and influence who could easily sway US Mint and government officials to their whims and likings. Corruption and collusion amongst these high minded twaddle was the norm and a form of pompous competition. To those high functioning narcissists Mr. Zerbe was an uneducated, uncouth interloper who needed to be put in his place. To condemn Mr. Zerbe for defense of his work in the face of those self serving scoundrels is to condemn any man for his life’s pure work and devotion to righteous endeavor. Has anyone actually read all those issues of The Numismatist, Mehl’s Monthly, Numismatic Society & Club minutes and other references from the early 1900s?
    Mr. Zerbe was mostly a man of honor, but not without fault. When personally and ruthlessly attacked during the 1909 ANA elections, he defended himself with the means at his disposal. Mr. Higgins stood no chance against the newly diversifying ANA membership. So he engaged in a smear campaign, then held the ANA’s incorporation and congressional charter hostage for a year. In exchange, Dr. Henderson was elected by acclamation to preserve the appearance of unity. Some these days would seek to glorify Mr. Elder for his contemptuous part, which was nothing more than an egotistical stooge and attack dog of his elite clientele.
    The 1904 Exposition medals, and others from subsequent years, were ‘souvenirs,’ and as such were meant to inspire and promote numismatics to the masses. He proclaimed as much in his article “Coins” That Are Not Coins”, The Numismatist, May, 1909, p147. Mr. Zerbe was an entrepreneur of modest means and needed to make a living – a foreign concept to most influential collectors of the time and ‘their’ dealers. What are those medals worth today??
    Mr. Zerbe stepped in and bought The Numismatist when those of the illuminati could not be bothered with such a menial endeavor. They were given their opportunities and none responded. Mr. Zerbe realized the ‘Official Organ’ as essential to the ANA’s existence, otherwise it would have died an undignified death – in Dr. Heath’s barn. He salvaged and raised The Numismatist to a world class publication in less than a year. Only later in 1909 when the illuminati realized its power and potential did they pitch a fit and ultimately forced Mr. Zerbe to sell it under duress in 1910. While The Numismatist did ultimately belong with the ANA, its means of extraction was unconscionable.
    Why this man has become an anathema to numismatists these days can only be attributed to indolence, cowing and the decadent irreverence for the shoulders on which they and most Americans stand.

  2. What ridiculous blather! Even without rehashing the tumultuous 1909 ANA election totally controlled by Zerbe and his corrupt management of The Numismatist, Zerbe was a conniving low-tech dictator the ANA could well have done without.

    David T. Alexander, ANA LM 1973


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.