I moved here physically when I was 22 years old, fresh out of college in 1978 and eager to tackle my first full-time job after a few months of scraping by with part-time work. But my coin collector mind had taken up residence in this Wisconsin village of 1,300 people long beforehand – 1967 to be exact. That was the year I first subscribed to a sister publication of Numismatic News called Coins Magazine.
Even though he never possessed the title of mayor (Iola actually has a president), Chet Krause, the founder of Numismatic News in 1952, seemed to head up everything and was the Andy Griffith of this little town, always in the middle of many interesting things and always achieving a happy ending.
It is no wonder that this image of him and the reputation of the paper he started in his parent’s home in Iola have had such wide appeal for 60 years now.
It is in this sense that I can ask you when your coin collecting mind moved to this place in central Wisconsin that for a long time proclaimed itself to be the nation’s Coin Collectors’ Capital.
We don’t call ourselves that anymore and haven’t for a long time. Perhaps it sounded as if we were too full of ourselves.
Whatever the reason, Iola is just plain Iola now. When CBS newsman Charles Kuralt visited years ago he went away disappointed that he couldn’t do a story on the Coin Collectors’ Capital because it no longer existed.
What existed then as now is a group of people who are committed to numismatics and who treat every other person who shares this interest as if he or she is a friend that we have just met on the way to the IGA, or the Crystal Cafe.
Chet long ago understood that making a success with Numismatic News depended as much on the messenger as on the message.
In 60 years, Numismatic News has thrived. It has been joined over the years by Coins Magazine, Coin Prices Magazine, World Coin News and Bank Note Reporter. There is also a whole family of Standard Catalog reference books that bring the world of numismatics to your fingertips in the physical volumes or online at www.NumisMaster.com.
With our online presence, Iola perhaps seems even closer now to collectors than it did way back in 1952 when rural Wisconsin seemed awfully isolated from New York or Chicago.
I can remember when most calls I received began with the caller saying, “This is long distance.” In the age of the cell phone, this seems quaint.
But whatever method you choose to use to communicate, Numismatic News exists to help collectors reach out to each other. Those of us who have been privileged enough to watch the numismatic years go by from an Iola vantage point know that our world is a very large, complex, but incredibly interesting place where everybody has a desire to learn about coins, teach others about them and share in a legacy that has now stretched over 60 years.