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Take a crack at Wisconsin notes
September 24, 2008

Chet Krause sells his Wisconsin National Bank Note collection in a Lyn Knight auction Oct. 16-17 in St. Charles, Mo., during the Professional Currency Dealers Association show.

Unfortunately, I will not be there to see it. I have watched from my chair here at Krause Publications as he built the collection. It was a labor of love.

Collecting home state National Bank Notes is a popular way of collecting paper. In fact, it helped build the paper money hobby as we know it today.

National Bank Notes offer the organizing principal that Whitman folders did for coin collectors. You have a list of banks. You have a list of what they issued and off you go.

Collectors usually get this information when they purchase a copy of National Bank Notes by Don C. Kelly and that helps give them an idea of what challenges they face.

Paper money is still smaller and more friendly than coin collecting, but that doesn't mean there aren't rivalries. While Chet was the big fish in the Wisconsin pond, there were those before him and others are coming after him. Part of the job of collecting is keeping track of who these people are and what they own, so if there is a gap in your collection, you can be ready with cash when their notes hit the market.

But there are surprises that help keep the hobby interesting. When Dave Kranz came to work here 14 years ago, he fell in love with Wisconsin Nationals from his home county. He bought notes as he could find and afford them.

One note, I am sorry to say I cannot remember, was particularly rare and a true find by Kranz. I urged him to show Chet. Chet's comments to him confirmed it was rare. For emphasis, he added, "I thought I owned the only one."

Nothing feels better for a paper money collector than a comment like that from a knowledgeable veteran.

Chet is now stepping aside to give other Wisconsin collectors their turn. I hope they are ready.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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