Last week, the world of collectibles lost a giant: Chet Krause, founder of Numismatic News and Krause Publications, passed away at the age of 92. There are many excellent remembrances and eulogies online; we recommend you read them.
Chet Krause’s genius was in understanding where the hobby stood at any time and seeing where it could go from there. Looking at his own situation in Wisconsin, largely cut off from other collectors except at shows, he realized that what coin collectors wanted and needed was a way to connect and share information. He began the iconic Numismatic News in 1952 and only a few years later was already respected as a major voice in collecting (see our post about the time coin collecting was almost made illegal for more on that story.)
The Numismatic News, along with other publications like the Standard Catalog of World Coins, revolutionized the hobby, connecting individual coin collectors with other hobbyists around the world. This consolidated information that had previously been difficult to find. It’s not a stretch to say that Krause’s work anticipated the rise of social media 50 years before it happened.
While he’s continued to do great things for his small town of Iola WI, Chet Krause’s impact has been felt world-wide. It’s impossible to know how many people he brought into the hobby by making information about coins more available to a wider range of people.
Chet was born in Helvetia, Wisconsin. Interestingly enough, Helvetia is the female goddess of Switzerland, and the name “Helvetia” is printed on all of Switzerland’s stamps and coins. (Perhaps this was the start of Krause’s interest in coin collecting?)
This kind of ability, to recognize the state of the hobby and see what the next step is, is the hallmark of true genius. It is this kind of ability that helped coin collecting not only survive the second half of the twentieth century, but enabled it to thrive. This is the sort of vision that will propel numismatics into the twenty-first century.
We offer our condolences to Mr. Krause’s friends and family, as we work to continue that legacy and expand the world of numismatics into the future.