The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 51, December 20, 2009, Article 8


Nathan Markowitz wasn't the only bidder inspecting lots for the upcoming Stack Family Library sale. Ron Guth submitted this report in his trip this week to Crestline, CA, where cataloger George Kolbe makes his home. The image of George in his study was provided by Nathan. Thanks! -Editor

Tuesday, December 15, I made the trek to George Kolbe's house to take advantage of the last day of "local" lot viewing for his upcoming sale of the Stack's Family library. I live in San Diego, and the only way to George's place is up the dreaded I-15 corridor, a ribbon of concrete that deserves its own special level in Dante's hell. Whoever said "It's the journey, not the destination" has never enjoyed California freeways. There is no right time to drive The 15, but there are plenty of wrong times, so I left my house at 6 a.m. in the hopes of minimizing the eventual slow time.

It actually worked out pretty well and I was able to cruise along at 70-80 miles per hour until I hit Perris, where I stopped for a leisurely breakfast while the poor souls condemned to the highway hustled to their jobs at a blistering 5 mph. Even after an hour, traffic speeds varied from slow to not fast, but I eventually slid off the freeway and began the trek up the mountain to George's lair.

The San Bernardino mountains rise right out of the desert at a pretty steep grade and my ears were soon a-popping as I drove through the San Bernardino National Forest on my way to Crestline. The road up the mountain is twisty and turny, so a lone driver has to choose between staying on the road or enjoying the unfolding vistas. Crestline is both the name of the town and an apt description for the locale; it is literally built on the line of the crest of the mountain. The ridge of the mountain is where the trees are, and George's house is nestled right among them. Traces of snow were still visible from last week's winter storm. So much for the journey part of my story.

George greeted me at the door and invited me into his home. His son-in-law was busy photographing books in the living room, and wife Linda greeted me in the kitchen. George had already pulled some lots for me, but before the serious business began, he pulled me onto the outside deck where we exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed one of the best views I've seen from a California home. I'm not talking about a peek, or a view; I'm talking about a stunning panoramic vista that stretches all the way to the island of Catalina, clearly visible some 60 miles away. It's breathtaking.

George Kolbe George took me on a mini-tour of his home, showing me his office/library and the many built-in bookshelves where the written word is lovingly presented. What struck me most was how organized George is. He is sharp...very sharp.

I won't tip my hand to as to which auction lots were viewed, but suffice it to say that the destination part of my story was worth the journey. I saw some incredible numismatic treasures, in a beautiful home custom-built for a bibliophile/book-seller, and I enjoyed the hospitality of a gentleman sans pareil.

Thank you, George, for making the trip worthwhile.

The printed sale catalogs (the Stacks library and ANS Duplicate sales) have hit the streets. Mine arrived this week, the covers are pictured below. -Editor

Kolbe Stack Family Library sale Kolbe ANS Library Duplicate sale

David Lange writes:

I'm just starting to work my way through George's great catalog of the Stack Family Library sale, and I was intrigued by the vintage photos that appear in the introduction. I spotted one error in dating which probably matters little, but I'm a stickler for details. The staff photo at the top of page 10 is dated to 1955-57, but the women's style of hair and clothing puts it in the 1963-64 period.

Stack Family and Staff

Well, maybe those fashion dandies were just ahead of their time! -Editor

Arnold Miniman writes:

On Monday I received George Kolbe's auction catalog "Highlights from the Stack Family Library". After reading through the catalog it was obvious that the endeavor was a labor of love for George. Some of Michael Hodder's comments have already been reproduced in The E-Sylum, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them as well as the comments by Bill Anton, Jr., and P. Scott Rubin. There is a lot of family history discussed, and I learned things about the Stacks that were previously unknown.

It all made me wonder... what happened? Just a few short years ago the Stacks were conducting the historic John Ford sales and, now, after seventy years, there are no Stacks left at the firm, and their library is being disseminated. People have heard hears rumors about the firm selling a principal interest to Whitman Publishing, and, of course, there was the merger with Dave Bowers' firm, American Numismatic Rarities. But there must be someone who can shed some light on the end of this era in numismatics. Maybe Larry Stack will write a book about it someday.

Well, sometimes history is best left to historians of the future. But Harvey Stack is one of our subscribers, so perhaps we'll hear some reminiscences from him someday. -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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