ANA honors Numismatists at the Chicago World’s Fair of Money

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The American Numismatic Association (ANA) honored several numismatists who not only lead by example, but pave new pathways within the numismatic hobby. Recognized for their dedication, hard work, passion and contributions, these recipients have been acknowledged at the World’s Fair of Money® in Rosemont, Ill., August 13-17.

Those being recognized are:

  • Thomas Hallenbeck for the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service
  • Peter Huntoon for Numismatist of the Year
  • Kenny Sammut for the Young Numismatist of the Year
  • George Kolbe for the Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Carrie Best for the Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics
  • Ricardo de León Tallavas for the Outstanding District Representative Award
  • Arthur M. Fitts III enters the ANA’s Numismatic Hall of Fame


Thomas Hallenbeck received the highest honor conferred by the ANA.

Thomas Hallenbeck receives the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service

The Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service is the highest honor conferred by the American Numismatic Association. It is given in recognition of numerous years of outstanding, dedicated service to numismatics. Thomas Hallenbeck is the recipient of this year’s award.

Born in Ft. Wayne in 1961, and having grown up in a numismatic household, Hallenbeck was no stranger to the hobby. “I was introduced to numismatics at birth,” said Hallenbeck. His father, Ken, frequently took him and his siblings to local club meetings. In 1983, Ken opened Ken Hallenbeck Coin Gallery, a small storefront near downtown Colorado Springs, and invited his son to join him. Tom accepted the position temporarily, just until a “real job” in banking or finance came along. The rest is history.

Tom has been active in numismatics all his adult life. He was a member of the ANA Board of Governors from 1997 to 2001, elected vice president in 2009-11 and served as president from 2011 to 2013. He has been on the board and was president of the Colorado-Wyoming Numismatic Association. He also was a board member and chairman of the Colorado Professional Numismatists Association.

Hallenbeck received the Goodfellow Award for chairing the ANA’s 1996 convention in Denver and was named a Numismatic News Ambassador. An ANA Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2001) and Medal of Merit (2003) recipient, he also was given an honorary “Doctor of Numismatics” degree at the ANA’s 2018 Summer Seminar.

On the Token and Medal Society board from 1998 to 2004, Tom also was vice president of the Colorado Springs Coin Club. In 1970-74 he served as editor of CoinChatter, the publication of the Old Fort Coin Club (Indiana), and he currently sits on the board of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets. In June, Tom completed his 25th consecutive year as a coin-grading instructor at the Summer Seminar.

Hallenbeck and his father hold to the same hobby philosophy and encourage others to collect what they love. They also share the distinction of being the first and, to date, the only father and son to serve as president of the ANA and to receive the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award. Ken had the privilege of installing his son as the 57th president in August 2011.

“My father has had the greatest impact on every aspect of my life,” said Hallenbeck, adding, “I learned honesty and persistence from him. His passion for and enjoyment of numismatics, along with his knowledge and integrity, have made my journey in this hobby amazing.”

In 2001, Hallenbeck purchased his father’s coin shop, changed its name and currently is president. Though the shop is a full-time job, the hobby for Hallenbeck is more than a profession. “Numismatics is all encompassing,” he said. “It permeates every aspect of my life.”


Peter Huntoon is the ANA’s Numismatist of the Year.

Peter Huntoon receives the Numismatist of the Year award

The Numismatist of the Year, first presented in 1995, was established to recognize individuals within the numismatic community who have demonstrated long-term leadership in the field and to the American Numismatic Association. This year’s recipient is Peter Huntoon.

A noted author and expert in the field of National Bank notes, Huntoon has distinguished himself over many decades of service to the ANA and other organizations. Beginning in the late 1990s, Huntoon and his wife (occasionally assisted by other researchers) sorted and indexed the 52,000 plate proofs of National Bank notes and about 225,000 proofs of other fiscal paper that had been transferred from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the Smithsonian Institution in the 1970s. This endeavor took well over a decade, and the couple spent several weeks each year away from home – mostly at their own expense. When that job was complete, they moved on to the National Archives, where they indexed and created finding aids for 1,200 massive currency and bond ledgers. Their work has been invaluable for scholars. “Numismatic research and education in the form of writing and teaching have been foundational to my enjoyment of numismatics, and these goals align with those of the ANA,” says Huntoon.

Huntoon has been an instructor at the ANA Summer Seminar since 2002, and in 2004 he coordinated a donation by American Bank Note Company to the ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum of two complete sets of plate-making artifacts. The ANA is believed to be the only non-governmental museum to hold such materials. Similarly, in 2009 he arranged for the donation of food-coupon proofs, specimens and sheets from the U.S. Department of Agriculture food-stamp program to the ANA.

Huntoon has conducted meticulous research on every aspect of currency production, including the politics, legislation and manufacturing technologies behind it. He has shared his expertise in numismatic periodicals since 1966, and more than 200 of his articles have been published. He has written several books, including Territorials: A Guide to U.S. Territorial National Bank Notes and United States Large Size National Bank Notes. Huntoon is the recipient of many numismatic awards, and is often credited with helping spread the message that a specimen’s history and rarity can make a well-worn note much more valuable than a restored one.


Kenny Sammut is the ANA’s Young Numismatist of the Year.

Kenny Sammut is recognized for the Young Numismatist of the Year award

The American Numismatic Association recognizes that the future of the hobby depends on the recruitment and education of young numismatists. The Young Numismatist of the Year award honors young collectors for outstanding contributions to the hobby and industry. Receiving this year’s award is Kenny Sammut.

Entering his senior year of high school this fall, the Chadds Ford, Penn., teen is involved in a variety of activities, including playing baseball. But for Sammut, numismatics is front and center. He was introduced to the hobby in 2007 when his father purchased some Presidential dollars. Since then, his knowledge and involvement in numismatics have increased and now consume much of his time and energy.

Sammut’s work ethic and leadership abilities are evident in all areas of his life, but especially in numismatics. His roles have included being the first YN in the Association’s history to be an ANA district representative, as well as serving as a board member for the Wilmington Coin Club in Delaware.

As is so often the case, Sammut’s numismatic trajectory was aided by family, friends and hobby enthusiasts, including many club members and professional numismatists. He relies on his advisors and mentors, some of whom have become his personal heroes.

In addition to participating in traditional hobby activities, Sammut is making the most of social media in his numismatic endeavors. He created and manages a Facebook group, “Coin Collecting – U.S. and World Coins – Everything Numismatic,” that has more than 2,300 members, and his “Coinswithkenny” account has more than 2,100 followers. “When I first started using social media, mostly adults followed me and were extremely encouraging. Many were happy to see a YN so involved in coin collecting,” he says, adding that “within several months, more and more YNs began to follow me. My audience is now international, and it is great to communicate with collectors around the world.”

After graduation, Sammut hopes to pursue a college degree in international finance and economics, giving him an opportunity to combine his interests in business, global travel and numismatics.

Sammut received his 2019 ANA Young Numismatist of the Year award at the Association’s Summer Seminar held in Colorado Springs in June.


George Kolbe honored with the ANA Lifetime Achievement Award.

George Kolbe receives the Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual, family, firm or judicial entity that has made outstanding contributions to organized numismatics. George Kolbe is the 2019 recipient – a numismatist that has combined his love of books and coins to forge a successful career.

Kolbe was born in 1941 and began collecting coins when he was 9 or 10 years old. He started selling them in the mid-1960s. Soon, he was buying current and out-of-print reference works on various numismatic topics and auction catalogs. Over several months, his appreciation of books and coins grew into a fledgling career as a numismatic bookseller, long before many specialized in the field.

Kolbe was a familiar face at antiquarian bookstores in Southern California and 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.

Since then, Kolbe has distinguished himself as a promoter of numismatic literature. His scores of auction catalogs and fixed-price lists provide extensive descriptions of the books being offered, covering both their significance as repositories of information and their value as collectable items in their own right. He was the first numismatic bookseller to provide background information relevant to the books’ histories and explain their importance as scholarly sources and artistic objects.

Kolbe has cataloged and conducted more than 150 numismatic literature auctions since 1976 and has issued dozens of fixed-price lists and other publications. The titles featured in these sales span the numismatic spectrum and include works published since the early 16th century. Some are written in languages other than English.

Kolbe has had the opportunity to sell some of the most notable libraries ever brought to market. His sale of highlights from the John J. Ford, Jr. Library achieved the highest price for a single-day numismatic literature sale – $1.66 million. He also sold the Stack Family Library for record prices and the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library for more than $1 million. His sales of texts for the benefit of the ANA and the American Numismatic Society (ANS) generated funds for new acquisitions, and he has appraised literature donations to the ANA and ANS on behalf of donors, free of charge.

In 1979 Kolbe 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. He belongs to the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, International Association of Professional Numismatists and, since 1987, the Rittenhouse Society. He also is a fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society.

In addition, Kolbe has published references about books, coins and medals. His support of niche titles has meant that valuable, but not commercially viable, research is available to collectors. In 2012 he wrote and published The Reference Library of a Numismatic Bookseller, recording the most comprehensive collection of numismatic bibliographies ever assembled, including works published in other languages, dating from 1579 to the present.

In 2010 Kolbe joined forces with David Fanning, Ph.D. to form Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers, LLC. Kolbe celebrated his 50th year as an expert in numismatic literature in 2017. To honor the occasion, 28 numismatists contributed to the text Fifty Years of Numismatic Bookselling: A Tribute to George Frederick Kolbe published that year. In the introduction, Fanning wrote, “One of the revolutionary aspects of George’s catalogues was his introduction of formal bibliographic descriptions to an area of the hobby that was used to seeing simple lists of authors and titles. Part of this was salesmanship…but part of this was also an effort on his part to educate others, to share his knowledge.”


Carrie Best receives the Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award.

Carrie Best receives the Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics

The ANA established the Elvira Clain-Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics in 2013 to recognize women who have made notable contributions to the hobby. Named after the former curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Col- lection, this honor has been bestowed on many heavy hitters. This year’s deserving recipient, Carrie Best, has been involved in numismatics for more than 40 years.

Best has been extremely active in the hobby as a leader, promoter, mentor, dealer and contributor. Specializing in silver art bars and rounds with themes of Christmas, Valentines and trains, Best deals in U.S. key and semi-key dates and in silver art medals.

A life member and past president (2004-07) of Florida United Numismatists (FUN), Best serves as its treasurer and was co-editor of the organization’s publication FUN Topics for 15 years. She has been Women in Numismatics’ parliamentarian since 2008, and also is secretary/ treasurer of the International Association of Silver Art Collectors and editor of its publication, The Silver Bugle.

Her efforts in promoting numismatics have been recognized by national and state organizations. She received an ANA Presidential Award (1999), as well as a FUN Presidential Award (2011) and its prestigious Award of Merit (2012).

Best has made significant contributions to the hobby, which have had a lasting impact on the numismatic community. The most rewarding part for her has been working behind-the-scenes at coin shows and volunteering with many clubs and organizations. She says, “I am truly honored to have been nominated and selected to receive this award.”


Ricardo de León Tallavas.

Ricardo de León Tallavas receives the Outstanding District Representative Award

Each year, the Association honors an ANA district representative who sets the standard for promoting the hobby and ANA-member clubs throughout the United States. At the World’s Fair of Money, Ricardo de León Tallavas will be presented with the Outstanding District Representative Award for 2019.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Tallavas developed an interest in coin collecting as a youngster. “It was Father’s Day, and I was 8 years old when my father talked to me about the coins he carried in his pocket as a kid,” he recalls.

Through the years, his passion for the hobby has earned him many accolades. An active member of the Bellaire Coin Club, Greater Houston Coin Club and the United States Mexican Numismatic Association, he still finds time to research and write about Mexican exonumia –his specialty.

Tallavas is a dedicated elementary schoolteacher in the Houston, Texas, area and has incorporated his love of coins into the students’ curriculum. His educational fervor also helps fuel his numismatic enthusiasm, as evidenced by his recurring role as an ANA Summer Seminar instructor. Tallavas is a leading authority on Mexican numismatics, and his classes are well-attended.

Tallavas takes pleasure in sharing his love of collecting on both national and international platforms. Always promoting the hobby, Tallavas oftentimes can be found with a camera around his neck, an infectious smile on his face and a proud glint in his eye as he talks about numismatics.


Arthur M. Fitts III.

Arthur M. Fitts III enters the ANA’s Numismatic Hall of Fame

In an effort to recognize the most important collectors, scholars and hobby professionals of all time, the American Numismatic Association maintains the Numismatic Hall of Fame at its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Individuals are recognized annually, with “modern” numismatists inducted in odd years, and “historic” personages in even years. This year, the ANA welcomes to this elite group a notable hobbyist, dealer and scholar: Arthur M. Fitts III.

Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1936, Fitts followed the course set by his paternal grandmother, who bequeathed him an 1881 gold coin. The young collector honed his skills by filling blue Whitman folders with examples of circulating coinage, particularly Buffalo nickels, which he favored.

Fitts entered Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1951, followed by four years at Harvard University, where he majored in English history. He went on to become a master at Fessenden, a private boarding school for boys in Newton, Massachusetts. There he started a coin club and shared his knowledge of numismatics with his students.

Fitts joined the ANA in 1955 and today is proud to be life member 951. In 1969 he became a partner in Colony Coin Company in Newtonville and owner in 1978. In 1973 he chaired the ANA’s 82nd Anniversary Convention in Boston. Beginning in January 1974, Fitts served as assistant to ANA Executive Director Edward C. Rochette at the Association’s Colorado Springs headquarters. There he coordinated ANA conventions and was acting curator of the Museum.

A two-term ANA governor (2001-05) and a regular Summer Seminar instructor, Fitts also was a mentor in the ANA Numismatic Diploma Program. He has communicated his enthusiasm for the hobby by delivering more than 25 presentations at ANA conventions across the country, and at least 100 illustrated, educational programs at the local, regional and national level. Over the years, he has contributed scores of feature articles and columns to The Numismatist. With his wife, Prue, also a former member of the ANA Board, Fitts has worked as an ANA national volunteer.

In recognition of his service to the ANA and the hobby, Fitts was presented the ANA’s first Adna G. Wilde Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence (2010). Previously, he was recognized with the Association’s Presidential Award (1994, 1997 and 2009), Medal of Merit (1998), Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2000), Lifetime Achievement Award (2001) and Exemplary Service Award (2006). In 2012 he and his wife were recognized with the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service, the ANA’s highest honor. Arthur Fitts was named a Numismatic Ambassador by Numismatic News in 2001. In 2018 the Fittses established a new annual ANA prize, the Prue and Arthur Fitts Literary Award for Ancient and Medieval Coinage Studies.


For more information on the Awards or the ANA visit their website.

You can find more details on the Chicago World’s Fair of Money® here.