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George Kolbe Retires from Bookselling

George Frederick Kolbe, numismatic bookseller and author, has announced his retirement from the partnership of Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers. The firm will continue to operate as Kolbe & Fanning under the ownership of David and Maria Fanning and will remain in their Gahanna, Ohio offices.

George Frederick Kolbe.

George Frederick Kolbe.

Kolbe began his career as a numismatic bookseller in May 1967 with the publication of his first fixed price list, a three-page typewritten compilation sent from Redondo Beach, California, to no more than two dozen potential customers. Subsequent lists grew in sophistication both of content and format, and in 1976 Kolbe (by now in Mission Viejo) held his first auction, a mail-bid sale of 763 lots. Three subsequent mail-bid sales were followed by Kolbe’s first public auction, held in conjunction with the 1979 Convention of International Numismatics in Los Angeles.

To date, George Kolbe has been associated with some 168 auctions conducted under his name or (beginning in 2010) under the Kolbe & Fanning banner. Many of these sale catalogues function as references within the field of numismatic literature. A listing of notable libraries sold over the years would consist of too many names to include here, though the Harry W. Bass, John J. Ford, and Stack Family libraries require particular mention, as do the fifteen New York auctions conducted jointly with Douglas Saville of Spink. During his career, Kolbe also published The Numismatic Bookseller, which variably functioned as a house organ, fixed price list, and mail-bid sale, and founded the Numismatic Bibliomania Society with his friend Jack Collins. In 2012, Kolbe published a bibliography, The Reference Library of a Numismatic Bookseller, based on his personal working library.

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.

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