The ANA and Its Presidents
Joseph Hooper Fourth President
from 'The Numismatist' Vol 74 No 4 April 1961 by Jack W Ogilvie, LM 93, Historian
It is possible that Dr [George F] Heath reversed an earlier decision and adhered to the old adage that age and wisdom run synonymously when he withdrew from the 1898 election, thus paving the way for sixty-five year old Joseph Hooper of Port Hope, Ontario, to become the fourth President of the ANA. At any rate, it fell upon this sage of three countries to lift the organization out of the chasm into which it had fallen, due to the turbulent times of the late nineties. What manner of man was this person selected to take over in such a crucial period?
Joseph Hooper, born in Plymouth, England, February 19, 1832 was a direct descendant of the Bishop of Gloucester. He migrated to the United States at the age of twenty-one and located in Detroit. Later he went to Port Hope where he established a monument business, specializing in Italian marble and Scotch granite. He married and raised a family of two girls and three boys.
Hooper became interested in collecting when a lad and his love for numismatics continued throughout his life. As a student of the science, he made notes as early as 1876 pertaining to certain coins and famous collectors such as Lorin G Parmelee of Boston who was noted for his baked beans and fabulous collection which included an 'original' 1804 dollar. In 1891, Hooper, familiar with the collection, purchased all of its Canadian, English and Roman coins to add to his rare old English gold and silver pieces. His specialty was coins of English speaking peoples.
He became acquainted with Dr Heath through 'The Numismatist' and, starting a career as a prolific writer of things numismatic, contributed a few of his articles for publication prior to the organization of the ANA. Heath, quick to recognize abilities, singled him out and suggested his nomination to the official family. He was one of seven Canadians on the charter membership list. At the October, 1891, meeting, he was elected the first vice president of the Association, a position he held for the next seven years. During this period he established his famous column 'Hooper's Restrikes' which appeared rather frequently and continued for many years thereafter. It consisted of short paragraphs pertaining to many numismatic topics, current news, oddities and statistics which are still used as a source of information by current present day writers.
The official seal of our Association was originally designed and submitted as a proposed medal by Hooper in 1892. (The complete story of the seal may be found in the early pages of the Library catalog.) A son of Hooper's presented the original drawings, the obverse closely resembling its present day counterpart, to the ANA. at the 1932 Los Angeles convention.
When Hooper started his term as the fourth President in January of 1899, the organization was in chaos. Less than a hundred of the original three hundred members remained on the roll. This group were assigned the first ninety-nine numbers in the reorganization which followed and the backlog of new applicants, the numbers from one hundred upward. This accounts for the variation of membership numbers as originally assigned. Only Heath, Tatman and Jerrems retained their previous numbers of one, two and three, while Hooper, who was twenty-five on the charter list, was reassigned number eleven. But alas! Far more of the original members than were anticipated, eventually returned and a mad scramble for 'low numbers' ensued. There were as many as three claimants to certain 'choice' numerals but those genial gents, Hooper and Heath, eventually smoothed out the difficulties, however, some lost ground, Charlie Steigerwalt went into the melee with a low seventy-four but came out with a miserable 98. Bad niblick shots!
A large number of Canadians entered the ANA during the regime of their fellow countryman. Prominent among them were: P O Tremblay, B G Hamilton, Robert W McLachlan, Dr Courteau, S S Heal, Jeremiah Gibbs and P N Breton, famed for his attribution of Canadian tokens. Hooper, himself, issued two of those which Breton numbered 777 and 778.
An impressive list of US numismatists also enrolled in this period: A C Gies, Chas E Briggs, Joseph Mitchelson, Moses Marcuson, Robert T King and surviving members George Marlier and Al Hepner. Well known dealers to join were: Thomas Elder, Ben Green, Joe Barnett and Elmer Sears. Four others, later destined to become Presidents were: Farran Zerbe, Judson Brenner, A R Frey and Frank Duffield. The total enrollment reached an all time high of three hundred and forty-seven on December 31, 1901 when Hooper turned over the Presidency to his successor, Dr B P Wright. Once again, with the team of the three 'H' boys in action, the triple threat from Hooper to Heath to Heaton ended in victory — a victory so decisive that, since that time, the ANA has never suffered defeat.
Shortly before retiring, President Hooper, seventy at the time, removed to Rochester, NY, where his coin activities consisted mostly of disposing of his collection. His Greek coins were donated to the Detroit Central Library and another part was sold to the Dominion Government Museum. Other segments were sold by dealers and the remainder willed to his children.
He was honorary chairman of the 1912 Detroit convention and as a tribute, for his many contributions and faithful service, was made an honorary member of the organization he loved so well, the American Numismatic Association. His full and illustrious life ended on February 16, 1919, three days prior to his eighty-seventh birthday.