World Coins

Kerry Wetterstrom receives ANA Farran Zerbe award

The Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service for 2021 goes to Kerry Wetterstrom.

Kerry Wetterstrom is named the 2021 recipient of the American Numismatic Association’s highest honor: the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service.

According the citation by the ANA announcing the award, not only has the field of numismatics greatly impacted Wetterstrom but the collector also has heavily influenced the hobby, which is why the ANA has conferred upon him its highest honor.

The ANA citation notes that Wetterstrom has been steeped in numismatics for nearly as long as he can remember, after his great aunt Bertha gifted him a Whitman folder for cents dated 1941 to 1961.

Today, numismatics is Wetterstrom’s career and avocation. Living in California, Canada and then Denver gave him access to a variety of coinage. At just 14, Wetterstrom purchased his first ancient coin from former dealer Tom McKenna, and that same year he decided to join the ANA.

“The ANA has had the greatest impact on my numismatic life,” says Wetterstrom. “As soon as I was able to drive, I started visiting ANA headquarters.” While there, he met Glenn Smedley, Ken Hallenbeck and (at the time) ANA Librarian Geneva Karlson, who answered his questions and helped guide him. In 1978 he attended his first ANA convention in Houston.

During his high school senior year he founded a student club for coin and stamp collecting at John F. Kennedy High School. That summer, Wetterstrom received a scholarship from the Denver Area World Numismatists to attend the 1979 ANA Summer Seminar, where he met numismatist Q. David Bowers. It was Bowers’s course “All About Coins” that convinced Wetterstrom he wanted to be in the coin business someday.

A few months after graduating high school, Bob Rhue, owner of Aurora Gold & Silver Exchange in Colorado, hired Wetterstrom to work as a part-time sales clerk while he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Rhue taught him how to grade coins.

He worked with Rhue until 1987, when he accepted a position as auction director of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (CNG, then Classical Numismatic Auctions), a role that took him to the East Coast and abroad. He lived in London in 1991, and after he returned to the United States he edited a book about Parthian coinage.

Robert W. Hoge, ANA museum curator at that time, contacted Wetterstrom and fellow collector David Vagi about teaching Hoge’s ancients class at Summer Seminar. They accepted, making 1993 their first year as co-instructors. To this day, Wetterstrom dispenses his encyclopedic knowledge close to home and across the nation.

He has traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, presenting numismatic talks in 12 states; he’s lectured everywhere from school classrooms to civic association meetings.

By the end of the millennium, Wetterstrom purchased The Celator, a monthly magazine devoted to ancient and medieval coinage, from its founder Wayne G. Sayles, in 1999. Over the next 13 years, he edited 156 consecutive issues of the printed publication. Under his management, it received multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He bid adieu to his labor of love in 2012, and the following year he returned to CNG as a senior numismatist, a position he still holds today.

The active collector is a fellow of the American Numismatic Society and the Royal Numismatic Society. He also belongs to the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, the Red Rose Coin Club of Lancaster (Pennsylvania) and 16 other organizations, several of which he’s served as president.

A few of his accolades include the Central Pennsylvania Numismatic Association’s James Wagner Award (1994), Krause Publication’s Numismatic Ambassador distinction (1998) and the Red Rose Coin Club’s Paul Haleman Award (2000). Earlier this year, the New York International Numismatic Convention recognized Wetterstrom with its Richard Margolis Medal of Merit for his 20 years of contributions as the organization’s chairman of education. He has also amassed several awards from the ANA.

As an ANA club representative, he facilitates educational programs in central Pennsylvania each year and is well-known on the convention circuit, as he’s been an ANA exhibit judge since 1996. In addition to numerous journal articles, he’s penned scripts for the ANA’s Money Talks radio program and serves as contributing editor for The Numismatist. A guru of both world and local history, Wetterstrom volunteers weekly for the Lancaster County Historical Society. His numismatic expertise has been recognize nationally, as he has testified twice before the U.S. Department of State Cultural Property Advisory Committee regarding restrictions on the importation of numismatic material.

“One of the things I enjoy the most about the ancient coin market is how it truly is an international market,” says Wetterstrom. “I have been able to travel to various countries over the years, where I have met many collectors and dealers, some of whom have become good friends. All of these experiences have helped expand my worldview, and I realize that a hobby like coin collecting unites people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds.”

Wetterstrom will be recognized for his accomplishments at the ANA member and awards celebration Aug. 12, at the Chicago World’s Fair of Money.

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