Editor’s Note: Following are the comments Barry Stuppler, vice president of the Professional Numismatists Guild, made while presenting the PNG Abe Kosoff Founders Award to the late Chet Krause during the PNG banquet held Aug. 8 in Anaheim, Calif.
To light a fire under someone is to get them moving quickly toward a goal. In 1940, a fire at his home when he was 17 years old pushed our award recipient down the road toward success. He was a stamp collector as well as a coin collector then. The stamps burned. The coins survived. Destiny?
After serving with the Army as a mechanic under General Patton in World War II, our recipient returned to his small hometown and took up a career as a carpenter/ building contractor.
But the collecting bug had bitten and he was feeling isolated. He thought coin collectors like him needed a way to communicate with each other. He had an idea for a trader paper. Cost, $2 a year and a free word ad for subscribers in each issue. He checked with other collectors. They thought it was a good idea, too.
Numismatic News was born Oct. 13, 1952, on the dining room table of his folks’ house.
The 1950s were filled with many numismatic pioneers striving to build up our field. After losing $1,800 in the initial months, the paper became profitable in 1954 and our recipient became a successful publisher. It became his only job in 1957.
He added other titles. Coins Magazine, Coin Prices, World Coin News and Bank Note Reporter helped his business grow.
He nearly lost it all after the roll and bag boom ended in 1964. He vowed to diversify into other fields so he would not be dependent upon the numismatic business cycle alone. Old cars, sports cards, guns and comic books followed. If you could collect it, his firm had periodicals and price guides published for you.
Just as Numismatic News helped shape the U.S. coin field, his Standard Catalog of World Coins shaped international numismatics when it was published in 1972.
Our recipient was a good businessman, but he also believed that we all prosper best when we prosper together.
He took an interest in events in Washington, D.C. He lobbied and testified to return mintmarks to coins in 1968 and to revive the commemorative coin program in 1982. And if he didn’t do it himself, he made sure someone else on staff would share the hobby view with government as other issues arose.
He was a strong supporter of organized numismatics throughout the years. He even was elected to the American Numismatic Association board of governors in 2007, serving just long enough to assure the success of the reform slate of candidates who had been elected with him.
Never did our recipient lose his zest for all things numismatic. Never did he give up his belief in shared prosperity.
His ultimate act of generosity was when he sold his company to an employee stock ownership plan in 1988. Employees shared in its growth.
When the company was sold in 2002, they got the cash. He didn’t.
He opened a personal office on Main Street. He continued being what he had always been, just plain Chet.
I give you the late Chet Krause of Iola, Wis., the winner of this year’s Abe Kosoff Founders Award.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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