George Frederick Kolbe Announces His Retirement

Published November 13, 2023 | 2 min read

By Darcie Graybill

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

Born in 1941, Kolbe began collecting coins when he was 9 or 10 years old. He started selling them in the mid-1960s. His appreciation of books and coins grew into a fledgling career as a numismatic bookseller, long before many specialized in the field. A familiar face at antiquarian bookstores in Southern California, Kolbe acquired a bounty of books. In May 1967 he began issuing modest lists of numismatic literature for sale, and his first auction was held in 1976.

George Frederick Kolbe (Photo: ANA Archives)

Kolbe has distinguished himself as a promoter of numismatic literature and has sold some of the most notable libraries ever brought to market. In 1979 he cofounded the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, and twice has served as editor of its journal, The Asylum. The society honored Kolbe by naming its highest award after him—the George Frederick Kolbe Award for Lifetime Achievement in Numismatic Literature. The ANA awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 (visit the August 2019 issue of The Numismatist to read more.) 

In 2010 Kolbe joined forces with David Fanning, Ph.D. to form Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers. David Fanning writes, “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.”

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