By CoinWeek News Staff …..
UPDATED June 27, 3:33 PM Eastern Time
One of the most influential figures in the collectibles publishing industry, Chester “Chet” Krause passed away on Saturday from congestive heart failure. He was 92 years old.
Krause was born in Helvetia, Wisconsin on December 16, 1923. He grew up on a modest family farm, the youngest of six children. His father worked the land and applied his skills as a mason. Born into a patriotic midwestern family, the Krause boys lived by their father’s example. All three served in the United States armed forces during World War II.
Chet was especially close to his oldest brother Carlton, who served with Company C, 11th Infantry in the Pacific. Even though Chet served half a world away as a mechanic in Patton’s third army, he and Carlton would exchange hundreds of pages of letters with each other during the war. These letters are preserved in the permanent collection at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison.
While serving under general George S. Patton, Chet Krause was among the first American soldiers to see the horrors of the Buchenwald concentration camp after its liberation (source: PDF).
Chet’s service in wartime undoubtedly led to a lifelong interest in military vehicles, building quite the collection of them over the years. He also purchased and published Military Vehicles Magazine.
But what Chet Krause is best known for is the founding and publication of Numismatic News.
Now in its 64th year of publication, the weekly newspaper got its start as a one-page sheet, assembled in his spare time at his kitchen table at the family home in Iola, Wisconsin. His mother Cora helped him with the fledgling business.
Success being guaranteed to no one, Krause sank more than a thousand dollars into the endeavor with not much to show for the effort. But its 600-reader circulation steadily grew and in 1952, publishing Numismatic News became profitable.
It was the beginning of the post-war coin boom. Virtually everything coin-related benefited from enthusiastic collector interest. Numismatic News and other competing periodicals thrived at this time.
In 1963, Krause hired Vandalia, Michigan native Clifford Mishler. It would prove to be one of the best hires in the history of numismatic publishing.
In the early 1960s, the United States Mint could not keep up with the economy’s demand for circulating coins, and the United States Congress turned its ire towards coin collectors, who it thought was hoarding vast sums of coins for profit. And while the coin industry’s obsession with collecting bags and rolls of recent issues did give the impression of culpability, the truth was much more complicated.
Ultimately, Congress voted to end the production of silver circulating coins. What followed was a series of aggressive anti-collector policies on the part of the Treasury Department to demonize coin collectors and coin collecting. Date freezes, the systematic removal of all silver coins from circulation, and the suspension of Mint and Proof Set manufacture was such a shock to the collecting hobby that it took years to recover. In some ways it never fully did.
Because of this turmoil, several coin-related businesses–including a number of periodicals–folded up shop.
Yet Numismatic News survived.
But the experience did teach Krause the need to diversify his publishing interests. Krause Publications grew into a publishing juggernaut, covering a host of collecting areas.
At the time of his retirement, the company employed 300 and earn more than $50 million in revenues. In 1990, Krause turned operations of the company over to Mishler and over the course of the next 10 years lessened his ownership stake in the company by selling shares to his employees.
Unfortunately, employee ownership of Krause Publications lasted only a few years. The company was sold to Cincinnati-based F&W Publications in 2002 for a reported $120 million. The employees didn’t even get a vote – not the outcome that Krause had in mind.
As a hobbyist, Krause had many areas of interest: coins, paper money, cars, and the aforementioned military vehicles just to name a few.
He consistently gave of his time to the numismatic hobby. He was an active member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA Life Member #318) and was the recipient of numerous ANA honors: the Medal of Merit, the Glen Smedley Memorial Award (1991), the Numismatist of the Year Award (1999), the ANA Lifetime Achievement Award, the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award (2009), and the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award for Distinguished Service (1977).
Krause was elected ANA governor in 2007 and held the position until 2010. As governor, he served under his friend and colleague Clifford Mishler, who was elected president of the ANA in 2009.
A generous benefactor, Krause had a public feud with the ANA over the naming rights of the Money Museum, which he wanted to be named in honor of former ANA executive director and president Edward C. Rochette. Krause and a group of associated donors contributed $500,000 to the project.
In the end, Chet Krause got his way. He usually did.
Memorials and Services
According to his obituary hosted by Voie Funeral Home in his hometown of Iola, memorials may be given in his memory to both the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (9000 W. Wisconsin Ave in Milwaukee) and the Rawhide Boys Ranch (E7475 Rawhide Rd, New London, Wisconsin). Funeral services will take place at the Iola-Scandinavia High School Gymnasium (540 S. Jackson Street, Iola) on Friday, July 1 at 2:00 P.M. Central Time. The high school gymnasium will also host visitations on Friday between 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM Central.