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‘Just plain Chet’ started it all

Who is the most intriguing person in numismatics? Well, it would be hard to find anyone more worthy than Chester L. Krause.
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Who is the most intriguing person in numismatics? Well, it would be hard to find anyone more worthy than Chester L. Krause. That, of course, goes for not only today but also the past 55 years, ever since the first issue of Numismatic News was published on Oct. 13, 1952, originating in a small central Wisconsin town.

In that first issue, prepared at a library desk in his family?s home, he wrote, ?If you are like I am and I suppose you are, I imagine you are wondering just who Chester L. Krause is. Well to start with I am just plain Chet.?

In those days, Chet, a carpenter by trade and a coin collector by passion, was well aware that few people in the hobby knew of him and even fewer knew where the small town of Iola, Wis., was. So, he advised, ??if you will get out your atlas, find Wisconsin, put your finger on the center of the map, lift it up and you should be quite close to Stevens Point. Just east of there 25 miles is Iola.?

It wouldn?t be long before most hobbyists knew where Iola was, even without a map. Iola was soon called the coin collecting capital of the world, and Numismatic News was Chet?s first success story.

In 1954, finding his home too confining for his growing business, he rented an office on Iola?s Main Street. By 1957, he had determined to build an office of his own, set aside carpentry, and turn to publishing full time.
His first acquisition as a publisher, in 1960, was a magazine called Coin Press. It would be the company?s first newsstand publication, soon changing its name to simply Coins.

By the 1970s, under Chet?s keen leadership, Krause Publications began to diversify into other fields, including old cars, sports, records, comics, collectible firearms, outdoors, toys, rural construction, antiques, collectible knives, stamps, and arts and crafts.

Fifty-five years after it all began, Chet?s dream of creating a worthwhile numismatic publication continues with his flagship publication, Numismatic News, which is joined by Bank Note Reporter, World Coin News, Coins magazine, Coin Prices magazine, and a lineup of books, led by the Standard Catalog of World Coins, North American Coins and Prices, U.S. Coin Digest and many more that also encompass the paper money field.

Today, his legacy assured, his place in numismatic history guaranteed, Chet remains a humble man and a true hobby stalwart.

This year, at the American Numismatic Association?s World?s Fair of Money in Milwaukee, Chet was awarded the Numismatic Ambassador Award by David C. Harper, editor of Numismatic News.

It?s an award that by tradition you cannot receive simply because you are a great collector, though Chet certainly is that. Those who viewed his stunning display of more than 1,500 vintage Wisconsin bank notes from his extensive collection at the ANA convention will attest to that.

You can?t receive a Numismatic Ambassador Award because of your hobby knowledge, though Chet is among the hobby?s most savvy. Look to the number of books that bear his imprint as author or editor.

You can?t receive the Numismatic Ambassador Award just because you?re a nice person, though Chet is one of the nicest you?ll ever meet. Just ask anyone around the town of Iola, or those who have worked for him.

Rather, the Numismatic Ambassador Award is presented to someone who shows a selfless devotion to the hobby, who would have done what he or she did for hobby regardless of the possibility of receiving an award from his peers in the hobby, and that sure fits Chet. Not only was Chet influential in enlightening collectors through the various publications that came under the banner of Krause Publications during his years with the company, he also truly loves the hobby and freely gives of his time, money and efforts to support it.

Intriguing he is, but he?s much more. The hobby will always be indebted to this great man, who it can justly be said is a hobby giant and still?just plain Chet.