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Chet

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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I drove by Chet Krause’s house on my way to lunch. I was surprised to see a big “sold” sign out in the front yard.

Even though I knew the house had been for sale, it still came as a bit of a shock to see that it now has passed out of the hands of the man who founded Numismatic News there and who has made so much numismatic history and affected my life so directly as a result.

Sale of the property at 290 E. Iola Street will not affect plans by the Iola Historical Society to erect a marker there to explain the house’s significance to future travelers who come to this rural village of 1,367 people.

For as the marker will point out, the very first issue of Numismatic News was Chet’s brainchild. He felt the need for some kind of convenient trader paper for collectors like him who lived in rural parts of the United States.

Even though the house is the same basic structure as it was 58 years ago when the first Numismatic News materials  were taken to the Iola Herald office to be printed with a date of Oct. 13, 1952, an historical marker probably cannot recreate the sense of isolation that rural coin collectors like Chet felt at the time.

Numismatics then was as urban centered as it still is today. Shops were in cities. Clubs met in cities. Conventions were held in cities. Only in 1952 there was no Internet. An ordinary person might use the telephone, but in those days a long-distance call was expensive and something usually done to report bad news.

Chet’s idea was convenient and cheap. For $2 a year, collectors got a paper filled with classified ads. There were always tidbits of information in the paper. Chet pointed out that he had moved into the house approximately two years before and he was a collector of Standing Liberty quarters and commemoratives.

The issues of 1959 took on a more characteristic look of a newspaper and less of a shopper, though the primary content remained the classified ads those collectors used to buy and sell from each other. Dealer display ads were important, too.

It is fortunate for me that news content came to be seen as something that would be of help to collectors. I salute the ground-breaking work of Tom Fruit, the first editor, and Ed Rochette, who succeeded him in late 1960. Ed remained in Iola until late 1966 when he went to take over the reins of The Numismatist in Colorado Springs, Colo.

His house in Iola, which he painted a striking Cape Cod red that the locals here called “barn red” is still red 50 years later and it is still catercorner from Chet’s house. Ironically, it too is for sale.

When the historical marker will be ready, I cannot say. I expect it will be before the snow flies, but that’s as close to a date as I have at the moment.

I plan to be at the marker’s dedication and report on the event in Numismatic News. I don’t expect large crowds will visit this house over time, but I hope the new owners will understand the significance of their new home.

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