DICK JOHNSON REMEMBERS FRANK KATEN
The photos in last week's E-Sylum of Dave Hirt and Editor Wayne Homren’s visit with Frank Katen brought back memories of the long-time numismatic book dealer. I too
visited him but this was at his home in Washington DC.
Dick Johnson submitted this remembrance of numismatic literature dealer Frank Katen. Thanks! -Editor
Frank Katen lived in Milford Connecticut when he was first involved in the coin business, and married to his first wife. He moved to DC and married to his second wife, and
ultimately to Silver Spring, Maryland with his third wife, Laurese (a delightful lady who was a collector of frogs - I sold her medals with frogs on them).
Katen ran his numismatic book business from his home in Northwest Washington DC. He showed me his library the day I visited. The books he sold often had a bookplate “Duplicate
from the Frank Katen Library.” I suspect some of these bookplates still exist. He also showed me his card catalog which contained the price and source of every numismatic book he
I tossed off a line in an attempt to compliment him “Wow, I wished I had that.” Months later I got a call from his wife who had remembered my comment. “Would you like to buy
that card catalog for a thousand dollars?”
Later in the evening when I knew Frank would be home I called and asked him if he was indeed selling his card file. He exploded. He knew nothing of this. It seems the couple
were separating and she was trying to sell any of his assets she could. He thanked me for contacting him. The couple did get a divorce. Frank kept his card file and remained in
the numismatic book business.
But that is not the end of my Frank Katen story,
Years before in New York John J. Ford had purchased the rights to the “Standard Catalogue of U.S. Coins” from Wayte Raymond. John intended to continue its publication,
updating it and adding new features. He knew of my interest in numismatic books and asked me to compile a section on American numismatic books to be included in the Standard
Catalogue. I did and sent it to him. But he never published that Standard Catalogue.
Years later, in 1961 I was editor of Coin World. To generate interest I created special editions. The first was on the Civil War, its coins, tokens and paper money. For
a subsequent issue I chose numismatic books and dusted off that old manuscript of American numismatic books I had prepared for John Ford. I listed books on one long line in
tabular style. I ran a second book special issue before I left Coin World.
It was popular enough to run again. So Margo Russell, then editor, wanted to update it. Who did she ask? Frank Katen. It ran under his name only with no mention of my previous
To read the earlier E-Ssylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: SEPTEMBER 23, 2018 : A Visit to the Katens
Wayne Homren, Editor
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