Joel R. Anderson, philanthropist, paper money collector, dies at 76
- Published: Oct 24, 2020, 11 AM
Joel R. Anderson, of Florence, Alabama, known in the numismatic world as a businessman and generous supporter of many hobby causes, died peacefully at home on Monday evening, Oct. 12, from natural causes at the age of 76.
Mr. Anderson attended the University of North Alabama and then worked in his family businesses that today include Anderson Media Corp.; TNT Fireworks (the largest importer and distributor of consumer fireworks in the United States); specialty publisher Anderson Press; and Books-A-Million (the nation’s second-largest book retailer). He served as a director of many affiliated firms and chairman of the Anderson Companies, which today employ more than 11,000 associates in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and China.
Among hobbyists and collectors, the best-known Anderson brands are ANCO (manufacturer of coin tubes and other supplies); Cowens (cardboard coin holders); H.E. Harris & Co. (stamp dealer, publisher, and philatelic supplier); and Whitman Publishing, the largest publisher of numismatic books and supplies, and creator of the annual Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”).
ANA, ANS supporter
Mr. Anderson was an active supporter of the American Numismatic Association, the American Numismatic Society, and other hobby organizations. “Mr. Anderson believed in the power of literacy, research, and education,” said Whitman president Mary Burleson.
“He gave generously of his time, business expertise, and financial resources to strengthen every aspect of the hobby. He did this quietly, without fanfare, never seeking praise or publicity for himself,” she added.
Paper money collection
Mr. Anderson was a serious collector of rare United States paper money. In 2018 and 2019 his collection was sold by Stack’s Bowers Galleries for more than $34 million. It was the most valuable cabinet of U.S. paper currency ever dispersed at public auction.
The Anderson family shared some words of wisdom Joel Anderson gave in a letter to his grandchildren, exemplifying his life philosophy: “Always smile and feel happiness and it will become a part of you. Always be positive and if you are sometimes defeated in something, don’t pout, don’t complain, just turn around and take another path to winning. Always respect others, always be honest with others and, very importantly, yourself. Always go out of your way to do the right thing in any situation and always remember to be nice and share with others, especially persons who need a helping hand.”
Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife, Carmen Hemmer Anderson; daughters, Ashley Ruth Anderson and Kristen Lore Anderson; son, Joel Ray Anderson II (Sophie); brother, Charles Caine Anderson; sister, Jan Anderson Wiggins (Bob); grandchildren, Kate Brooklyn Billingsley, Grant Ray Billingsley, and Stella Ruth Chanin; niece, Catherine Foss Wingfield; nephews, Anderson Malone Wingfield, Charles Caine Anderson Jr. (Moll), Terrence Carroll Anderson (Susan), Clyde Barbour Anderson (Summer), and Harold Myron Anderson (Amber). He was preceded in death by his father, Clyde W. Anderson; mother, Ruth Keenum Anderson; and sister-in-law, Hilda Barbour Anderson.
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