Gene Hessler is the 2008 recipient of the American Numismatic Association’s highest honor, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service. He will be presented the accolade Aug. 2 during the Awards Banquet at the World’s Fair of Money® in Baltimore.
Hessler, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is best known in the numismatic world as a paper money expert, who coined the term "syngraphics."
He is the author of The Comprehensive Catalog of United States Paper Money, which garnered the Nathan Gold Memorial Award and the Robert Friedberg Award; An Illustrated History of U.S. Loans, 1775-1898; U.S. Essay, Proof & Specimen Notes; The Engraver’s Line: An Encyclopedia of Paper Money and Postage Stamp Art; and The International Engraver’s Line. A prolific writer for numismatic periodicals, he edits Paper Money, the Society of Paper Money Collectors’ journal.
From 1967-77, Hessler served as curator of the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum in New York’s Rockefeller Center. He also became the first full-time curator of the Mercantile Money Museum in St. Louis, where he worked from 1986-88.
An active advocate for the hobby, Hessler has been an expert source of numismatic information for publications including Time, Newsweek and the Encyclopedia Britannica; appeared on radio and TV shows such as "The Today Show," "Wonderama," "Voice of America" and "What’s My Line?" His scripts for "Money Talks," a daily National Public Radio broadcast, earned him a Peabody Broadcasting Award nomination in 1993.
An accomplished trombonist, Hessler worked with music legends Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich. As a member of Broadway pit orchestras for The Music Man, Camelot and a dozen other shows, he performed with Robert Preston, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, and a variety of other singers and entertainers in the 1950s and ’60s.
Hessler won the ANA’s Glenn Smedley Award in 1993, the Medal of Merit in 1995 and a Presidential award in 1998. He received the Numismatic Ambassador Award in 1993 and the Numismatic Literary Guild’s Clemy Award in 2007.
The Farran Zerbe Memorial Award is given annually in recognition of numerous years of outstanding, dedicated service to numismatics. Past winners include Joseph E. Boling (2005), Anthony J. Swiatek (2002), Arthur Kagin (2000), and Kenneth and Bert Bressett (1998).
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About American Numismatic Association
The American Numismatic Association is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 32,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or visit www.money.org.