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ANA’s highest honor to get a new name after 70 years

For 70 years, the ANA’s Distinguished Service Award was named after Farran Zerbe, but the award will have a new name for the next recipient.

Image courtesy of the ANA.

After 70 years, the American Numismatic Association’s award for distinguished service, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award, will be receiving a new name.

Board members voted in January to remove the name of former ANA president Farran Zerbe from the award, following a request by 20 former winners of the award. The award winners made the request for the name change in an e-mail on June 22, 2020, asking that the honor be named after “either a past or present person or persons who more fittingly will represent the highest ideals of integrity, numismatics and the American Numismatic Association.”

A retrospective look at Zerbe’s professional dealings uncovered accusations that he made deceptively inflated claims about the future value of Louisiana Purchase Exposition gold dollars he sold; complaints of hucksterism and fraud for his creation and sale of coin-like 1904 gold-plated souvenirs; allegations that he unscrupulously obtained ownership of The Numismatist in 1908 from relatives of the ANA’s late founder, Dr. George F. Heath; and claims of bribery involving the 1909 ANA election in which Zerbe’s friend John M. Henderson was named president. Zerbe died in 1949 and the first award in his honor was given in 1951.

The final award bearing the Farran Zerbe name was presented to Kerry Wetterstrom at the 2021 World’s Fair of Money in August. The accolade will now 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.”

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