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George Kolbe Retires From Numismatic Bookselling Partnership

George Kolbe, Numismatic Bookseller
George Kolbe, Numismatic Bookseller

On November 13, 2023, George Frederick Kolbe announced his retirement from the partnership of Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers. For over four decades, Kolbe has been a prominent figure in the numismatic community as both a bookseller and an author. His expertise in rare and collectible numismatic literature has made him a trusted name among collectors and scholars alike.

Kolbe’s love for numismatic bookselling began in 1967 when he published his first fixed price list of three pages. At that time, Kolbe was located in Redondo Beach, California, and sent the list to only a handful of potential customers.

As Kolbe’s career progressed, his lists became more sophisticated in terms of content and format. In 1976, he held his first auction through mail-bid sale, featuring 763 lots. The success of this auction led to three more mail-bid sales.

Finally, in 1979, Kolbe held his first public auction in conjunction with the Convention of International Numismatics in Los Angeles. This marked a significant milestone for Kolbe and solidified his position as a prominent figure in the numismatic book trade.

Over his lengthy career, George Kolbe has been associated with some 168 auctions conducting under his name or in partnership with David Fanning.

George Kolbe has sold numerous notable libraries through his auctions. These include the libraries of Harry W. Bass, John J. Ford, and the Stack Family. In addition to these, there have been 15 New York auctions co-conducted with Douglas Saville of Spink.

The inclusion of these prestigious collections in George Kolbe’s auctions further solidified his reputation as a leading authority in numismatic literature. Kolbe’s expert handling of this material also served the purpose of preserving and maintaining the knowledge and personality of the hobby as information was passed from one generation of collectors to the next.

Kolbe auctions, and later Kolbe & Fanning auctions, were highly anticipated events within the numismatic community.

David Fanning writes:

“When Kolbe & Fanning was established in 2010, it was a great honor for me to join forces with the preeminent numismatic bookseller of our day. As our partnership is ending and our firm prepares to move forward on our own, it is our honor to do so with the Kolbe name firmly attached. We are enormously grateful to George for providing us with the opportunity to go into business with him, and we send our very best wishes with him into his well-earned retirement.”

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers will be holding their next auction on February 17, 2024, when they will be offering highlights from the extraordinary BCD Library on ancient numismatics. The firm’s website will remain at numislit.com.

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  1. I would love to hold some of the coins he has had the privilege to hold. It’s people like him that pass the numismatic torch the rest of us coin collectors.


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