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Hobby publisher Chet Krause dies

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Numismatic News founder Chet Krause died June 25 at the age of 92.


Chet Krause with some of his many famous hobby publications.

The first issue of what became a monthly and then weekly periodical was published Oct. 13, 1952. It originally sold for $2 a year. It helped revolutionize numismatics and changed his life. He went from rural carpenter/building contractor into a pioneering hobby publisher.

Mr. Krause picked up on a need for ever increasing speed in numismatic business and communications, yet remained loyal to his hometown of Iola, Wis., which even now has a population of only 1,300.

It was this rural isolation, far from the urban areas that hosted coin shops and shows, that brought him to believe that many other collectors shared the same needs he had.

He was right. That single insight proved to be timely. It eventually became the basis of a large publishing business called Krause Publications serving collectors in many other fields beyond numismatics.

Mr. Krause was born six miles east of Iola, Dec. 16, 1923. He had five older brothers and sisters.

His schooling began in a one-room school house. It ended when he graduated from Iola High School in 1941.

He was drafted at the age of 19 and was inducted into the U.S. Army in February 1943.

His World War II military service as an auto mechanic in the 565th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion put him in the 3rd Army generaled by George Patton.

Mr. Krause became a builder when he returned to Iola in 1946. He left that business in 1957 when publishing required his full-time attention.

Numismatic News grew with coin collecting to the highs of the roll and bag boom that peaked in 1964. He acquired a magazine in 1962 that he renamed Coins. The numismatic recession that hit in 1965 along with clad coinage nearly cost Mr. Krause the company.

He sold his coin collection to support the business. He founded a new title, Coin Prices, in 1967, but soon he reached beyond coin collectors and it was this diversification that set off a period of consistent growth.

In 1971 he founded, Old Cars, a paper for car collectors. His business vision took him into other collectible fields that ranged from sports cards and comic books to firearms, antiques and paper money.

If there was a collector of something, there was a need for a price guide. Mr. Krause compiled the Standard Catalog of World Coins first published in 1972 and it became the bedrock resource for the world's many coin collectors and dealers. Today, the Krause-Mishler catalog numbers named after him and his co-author, Clifford Mishler, are the basis of the world coin identification system.

By the 1980s, there were 150 book titles, many of them price guides, to go with the stable of periodicals.

In 1988 he created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. By 1992 all his shares in the company had been transferred to it.

Even as his corporate role changed, he never lost interest in either the Iola community or in the community of collectors in the many fields served by Krause Publications titles.

Krause Publications was sold in 2002 to F+W. The proceeds went to the employees.

Mr. Krause's sense of duty pushed him in 2007 to run for the American Numismatic Association board of governors with a slate of like-minded hobbyists. Their goal was reform. He was 83 when the ballots were counted. He stepped down as soon as the reforms took root.

From his personal office on Main Street he oversaw his community and charitable interests.

He stopped going to the office just weeks before his death from congestive heart failure.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. July 1 at the Iola-Scandinavia High School Gymnasium.

Visitation will be at the same location from 11:30 a.m. until the time of the service.

Memorials may be given in memory of Chester, to Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin, 9000 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226, or to the Rawhide Boys Ranch, E7475 Rawhide Road, New London, WI 54961.