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Joseph Farran Zerbe


Born in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Married Bessie Garner Knox May 6, 1908. Married Julia Gertrude Mahoney September 10, 1932. While working as a newsboy he received a French 50 centimes in change. It kindled his interest in numismatics.

Zerbe joined the ANA in 1900. He served as first vice president of the ANA from 1904 to 1907. He served as ANA President September 4, 1907, to August 14, 1909. He became chairman of the board of governors in 1928. He contributed many unsigned articles to The Numismatist. He attended 27 ANA conventions from 1904 to 1941.

In 1904 he was appointed as chief numismatist for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. He was responsible for sale of official coins and medals. He was appointed to a similar position for the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland in 1905 to 1906 and the Pan- Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 to 1916. Zerbe issued a store card sold in St. Louis in 1904.

In 1906 he went to San Francisco to study California pioneer and territorial gold coinage. He was in San Francisco April 18, 1906, when the earthquake struck. (see Lighthouse)

Zerbe arranged to exhibit his collection at banks around the country. In 1907 he began publication of Money Talks. He used it to promote the banks that were exhibiting the Zerbe collection. He also published Money Facts that was handed out to visitors. It would carry the name of the host bank.

In 1908 Zerbe bought The Numismatist from the family of ANA founder George Heath. He served as editor and publisher. In 1910 he sold the publication to the ANA. He served on the U.S. Assay Commission in 1909 and 1923.

His collection was purchased and became the Chase National Bank Collection of Moneys of the World about 1928. Zerbe was first curator and served 1929 to 1939. The name became Chase Manhattan Money Museum located in Rockefeller Center. The museum closed in 1973. In 1978 the collection was loaned to the Smithsonian and in 1979 the 25,000 piece collection was donated to the Smithsonian.

He served as ANA Historian until his death. In 1969 he was elected to the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame.

bio: NUM 74 Sep 1961 pages 1175-1178; NN 8/13/1983; WWWA-2; profile CW 1/11/2010 (photo)

photo: NUM 54 Oct 1941 page 772; ANAHist 179

obit: NUM 63 Jan 1950 page 87, 351

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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