The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 45, November 10, 2008, Article 8


Ken Barr writes:
I suspect that others have already made mention of the TAMS Journal, Volume 12, Number 4 (August 1973), Part II which is a 32-page "bonus issue" titled Alphonse A. Kolb, M. A., The Man and His Works authored by Charles Ricard -- meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated.

Actually, Ken was the first reader to mention this article. Thanks! A set of the TAMS Journal is a fantastic reference source. -Editor

Marc Charles Ricard writes:
I really appreciated the submission by Mr. Watterson on Alphonse Kolb. Mr. Kolb was a very gifted sculptor, medallic artist, and family friend for many years. The most important of his works for me, from a very biased viewpoint, was my father's Rochester Numismatic Association Presidential Medal created in 1960. The three medal set is one of my prized possessions, and a very true likeness of my father as a young man.

I would also direct anyone who would like to learn more about Mr. Kolb and his works to the TAMS Journal, August 1973, Volume 13, #4, Part II. This special supplement was written by Charles J. Ricard, and includes many works from Mr. Kolb's private collection in his home, some of which had never been photographed and published before or since. Although Alphonse Kolb was well-known regionally, it is my sincere hope that medalists and collectors across the country will be able to admire and share his wonderful gift for generations to come.

Ed Reiter writes:
I noted with interest the item in last week's E-Sylum about sculptor-medalist Alphonse Kolb. I was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., Alphonse's adopted hometown, and was fortunate enough to meet, interview and photograph him at his home, where he maintained a studio and worked to the end of his long, productive life.

By then, our roles were reversed: Whereas Alphonse, the native German, had put down deep roots in "The Flower City," I, the native Rochesterian, had resettled in New Jersey. But we shared a German heritage and a zest for numismatics -- particularly numismatic art.

As I recall, I visited Alphonse twice during trips back to Rochester. The first time, I interviewed him for "Who's Who in the Hobby," a feature I wrote for Numismatic News profiling interesting coin hobbyists. The second time, I photographed him at work for an article in COINage. The COINage article appeared in the May 1983 issue.

Sadly, however, Alphonse had died March 30, shortly before the issue reached readers. (As those who have written for magazines know, monthly publications use cover dates weeks ahead of their release dates in order to extend their potential newsstand shelf life.)

I also wrote a posthumous tribute to Alphonse in my weekly "Numismatics" column in The New York Times. This appeared on Sunday, May 15, 1983.

Ed also forwarded the text of his New York Times article and images of the COINage article with the help of Bob Julian. Thanks! -Editor

Here are some excerpts from Ed's New York Times article:
Through the years the Rochester Numismatic Association has been one of the most successful local or regional coin clubs in the nation. Much of its success can be traced to the dedication of a self-effacing sculptor, the late Alphonse A. Kolb.

Recently, Mr. Kolb contributed $10,000 to the Rochester Museum and Science Center with the proviso that the museum continue to provide facilities for the club's twice-monthly meetings and its library.

Mr. Kolb, who died March 30 at the age of 89, designed the annual medals issued by the club to honor its outgoing presidents. One of these was a self-portrait which the sculptor made in 1931 while serving as the club's president. He also designed medals for special occasions including the club's 500th, 700th and 1,000th meetings and its 25th, 35th, 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries. For the most part, this work was a labor of love done without compensation.

''Alphonse has been a unifying force and an irreplaceable person,'' said John Jay Pittman, a past president of the club who also has been president of the American Numismatic Association and the Canadian Numismatic Association.

Alphonse Kolb was born in Gmund, Germany and learned the basics of engraving during his teens when he was apprenticed to the owner of a jewelry manufacturing establishment in that town. ''I kept improving and going into finer work until finally I got into sculpture,'' he once recalled.

At 19, he left home to seek a position in Hamburg, but wanderlust impelled him to board a ship for New York. A year later he settled in Rochester, a city with a strong German heritage. It was also a center for artisans. There Mr. Kolb took a position as a designer and diecutter for Bastian Brothers, a well-known producer of medals. He held that post for a number of years while accepting private commissions.

Mr. Kolb did much to capture Rochester's history in medallic art. His work includes medals, sculptures, historical tablets and other works of art chronicling the city's development and its leaders. His finest single work was the Rochester Civic Medal, a silver three-inch medal given each year by the city museum to outstanding civic leaders.

COINage article: A. A. Kolb

Wayne Homren, Editor

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