Chester “Chet” Krause, founder of Krause Publications and Numismatic News, is now the namesake of the American Numismatic Association’s highest honor. The ANA Board of Governors made the decision to rename the accolade the Chester L. Krause Memorial Distinguished Service Award at its April 12 meeting to honor the memory and contributions of the renowned numismatic publisher.
The inaugural award will be presented to numismatic promoter Thomas Uram at the ANA’s 2022 World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, set for Aug. 16-20.
Chet Krause (1922-2016) grew from humble beginnings in rural Wisconsin to become a publishing pioneer and prolific philanthropist.
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 1,195.
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.
Krause was born six miles east of Iola on 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 under Gen. George Patton.
Krause became a builder when he returned to Iola in 1946. The first issue of what became a monthly and then weekly periodical, Numismatic News, was published on Oct. 13, 1952. It originally sold for $2 a year. It helped revolutionize numismatics and changed his life. He left the building 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 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. 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 Media. The proceeds went to the employees. Active Interest Media purchased many of the company’s assets in a 2019 acquisition.
Krause joined the ANA the year following the launch of Numismatic News. As his business grew to include reference books and additional magazines, so did his generosity for the hobby and the ANA. In 1974 he inaugurated the Numismatic Ambassador Award, which recognized individuals who have dedicated themselves to sharing the joys of numismatics with others. Ten recipients were named in the first year, and this time-honored award is bestowed on deserving hobbyists to this day.
Along with Clifford Mishler and an anonymous party, Krause supported and funded the naming of the ANA’s Money Museum in honor of former Executive Director Edward C. Rochette. Krause’s likeness appears in the museum’s plaza as a member of the Numismatic Hall of Fame, an honor he received in 1990.
Krause’s sense of duty pushed him in 2007 to run for the ANA 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.
The publishing powerhouse received the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award for Excellence in Numismatic Writing, jointly bestowed by the ANA, the American Numismatic Society and the Numismatic Literary Guild, in 2009. Krause was posthumously recognized with the ANA’s Philanthropy Award in 2019.
Krause has been honored with almost every ANA service award, receiving the Medal of Merit (1967), the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service (1977), the Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (1991), the Lifetime Achievement Award (1994), the Numismatist of the Year (1999) and the Exemplary Service Award (2005).
The ANA’s Distinguished Service Award, established over 70 years ago by Louis S. Werner to memorialize former ANA President Farran Zerbe, was originally an engraved plaque presented “for Distinguished Service and for advancement of the Science of Numismatics rendered to the American Numismatic Association.” Over time, the award expanded to include a gold medal.
In 2021, the ANA Board of Governors voted to vacate the naming of the award to create an opportunity to name it after a contemporary figure in numismatics and to secure funding to produce the medal. When the decision was reported, historical allegations against Zerbe were also published, which some believed was the board’s indictment of Zerbe and the reason for the removal of his name. The Board of Governors clarified that this was not the case and affirms Farran Zerbe’s significance in the association’s history. (Most notably, Zerbe, alongside George F. Heath, was inducted into the Numismatic Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1969.)
Funding for the naming rights for the Chester L. Krause Memorial Distinguished Service Award comes from a groundswell of support from numismatic colleagues and longtime friends and will sustain the award for years to come.
The First Recipient
Thomas Uram, a dedicated promoter of numismatics, is the recipient of the first-ever Chester L. Krause Memorial Distinguished Service Award, the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) highest honor.
Uram has been a stalwart supporter not only of the hobby, but of the ANA, which he joined as a Young Numismatist in 1974, and of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN), of which he is currently the president. He has served on the ANA board, as chair of two ANA committees and as the assistant host club chair for the Pittsburgh World’s Fair of Money.
In 2012, the Pennsylvania resident was appointed to the United States Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).
According to former United States Mint Director David J. Ryder, Uram’s “enthusiasm for numismatics and his efforts to strengthen the interface between the Mint and the ANA have been unceasing” and resulted in an elevated relationship between the two organizations.
According to Ryder, Uram was instrumental in the passage of the 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act, which authorized the minting of 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars. “It was Tom who first brought this important coin program to my attention, and his leadership was the single most driving force in getting this legislation passed,” said Ryder. “I can think of no contribution more meaningful to numismatics today.”
A collector of U.S. 2-cent pieces, medals and “curved” coins, Uram is the recipient of numerous numismatic awards recognizing his dedication to the hobby:
ANA Presidential Award (2011)
Radford Stearns Memorial Award for Achievement in Exhibiting (2014)
Radford Stearns Memorial Award for People’s Choice exhibit (2015)
Numismatic Ambassador (2017)
ANA Glenn Smedley Memorial Award (2019)
ANA Medal of Merit (2020)