The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 49, December 4, 2022, Article 20


American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this article on the newest numismatic centenarian, Kay Lenker. Happy 100th birthday!! Thanks, Pete. -Editor


  Kay Lenker

Each year the Numismatic Literary Guild presents awards during the American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money. With good food and entertainment, the NLG Bash has been popular with members and guests.

The highest annual award is The Clemy. named in honor of NLG founding member Clement Bailey. I attended the NLG Bash on August 18, 2011, when the Clemy winner was announced. I rose to my feet and walked to the stage as the crowd gave a round of applause.

The applause was not for me. Taking my arm for support was Kay Lenker. The applause was for her. She was 89 at the time and had been a supporter of the NLG for many years including service as club treasurer 1985 to 2012.

Catharine R. Fean was born in Philadelphia on November 29, 1922. Her father was a mail carrier, Albin J. Fean, and her mother was also named Catharine R. (1898-1989). She received a B.A. from Immaculata in 1944 and an M.A, from San Diego State University in 1976.

Kay was certified as a meteorologist in 1945 and served on active duty in the U. S. Navy from 1944 to 1954. She retired from the Navy Reserves with the rank of Captain. She then worked with the United States Weather Bureau from 1955 to 1958 and with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography 1958 to 1978. She continued working as a consulting meteorologist 1978 to 1981.

She developed an interest in collecting coins in 1955. With her husband posted to Japan 1962 to 1965, she developed an interest in Japanese coinage. In the 1970's, she was a frequent exhibitor at shows in Southern California and often received best-of-show awards. She joined the ANA in 1961 and converted to life member LM 626. She was certified as an ANA judge in 1976. In recent years I judged an exhibit she had on Wildman coins.

As Catharine R. Fean, she was co-chairman for the San Diego Numismatic Society banquet committee in 1960 and an exhibitor in 1961. She was publicity chairman for the San Diego County Interclub Numismatic Council Coinarama in 1961.

Kay married Stuart T. Edgerton on September 1, 1961, and their marriage ended with his death on February 15, 1978. Her second marriage was to John E. Lenker on January 26, 1980, and lasted until his death on April 14, 1993.

  Kay Lenker Ad

It might take a century to compile a list of her service to coin clubs. She has organized exhibits, managed publicity and been a program speaker. Here is an attempt, probably incomplete, to list offices she has held.

  • American Numismatic Association (ANA), board member 1995-2003, general chairman for the ANA convention in San Diego in 1983.
  • California Exonumist Society, president 1991-92, show chairman 1991-92, secretary 2008.
  • California State Numismatic Association (CSNA), show general chairman 1972-1975, 2002- 2004, bourse chair 1989-99, treasurer in 1990-2013. In 2001 she became Assistant Editor South of the Tehachapis for Calcoin News and served until the publication merged in 2003. She then worked for The California Numismatist until 2006.
  • Convention of International Numismatics (C.O.I.N.), secretary.
  • International Primitive Money Society, secretary/treasurer.
  • Numismatic Association of Southern California (NASC), board 1988-89, recording secretary 1990-1995, treasurer 1996-2008.
  • Numismatic Literary Guild, treasurer and co-treasurer 1985 to 2012.
  • Redlands Coin Club, recording secretary 1981, secretary/treasurer 1993 to 1995.
  • San Diego County Inter Club Numismatic Council, president 1972, 1981, editor 1973, secretary 1977, show general chairman 1972-74. treasurer 1986, bourse chair 1991-2011.
  • San Diego Numismatic Society, secretary for twenty years 1982-1997, president for six years.

Kay was named a Krause Publications Numismatic Ambassador in 1987. She was honored for her service with an ANA Outstanding District Delegate Award in 1992 and a Glenn Smedley Memorial Award in 2003. As mentioned earlier, she received the NLG Clemy Award in 2011. In 2022 she was honored with the Elvira Clain Stefanelli Memorial Award for Achievement in Numismatics.

I wrote this article on November 29, 2022, on the occasion of her 100 th birthday. She now joins the elite group of 100-year-old numismatists. I will be interested to hear how she is doing.

  What's Her Name?

Although I refer to her as Catharine, her name also appears as Catherine. I found these references to her on the Newman Numismatic Portal.

  • Catharine Fean – 2
  • Catherine Fean – 3
  • Catharine Edgerton – 153
  • Catherine Edgerton – 86
  • Kay Edgerton – 1106
  • Mrs. Stuart Edgerton - 3
  • Catharine Lenker – 17
  • Catherine Lenker – 7
  • Kay Lenker – 1282
  • Catharine Edgerton Lenker – 68
  • Catherine Edgerton Lenker – 17
  • Kay Edgerton Lenker – 977
  • Mrs. John Lenker - 2

When she worked for Scripps, she wrote a report published under the name of Catharine Fean. In the 1930 Census, her name is recorded as Catharane Fean.

In the 1940 Census, her name is recorded as Catherine R. Fean.

  When was she born?

I interviewed her at the ANA convention on August 13, 1991. I recorded her date of birth as November 29, 1922. I have not found another source to confirm that date. The site lists her date of birth as June 1, 1923. The site lists her as male.

The inconsistencies seen in this case are not unusual with similar research.

Ken Berger put me in touch with Peter Lenker and Ginny Bourke who reports that Kay is doing OK. She wrote that "we dedicated the 2022 San Diego Coinarama show to Kay and had a brief history of her in the program." Were any of our readers present at the event? How was it? -Editor

  Alan and Kay Lenker 2011 Chicago ANA
Kay Lenker with Alan Herbert at the 2011 Chicago ANA

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
ALAN HERBERT 1926-2013 (

Rosa E-Sylum FPL 23 Ad 2

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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