KRAUS, ARTHUR HENRY
Fig. 1. Arthur Henry Kraus photo on the cover of Philatelic West and Camera News, April 1900. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, Philatelic West and Camera News . For sale. Write firstname.lastname@example.org
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Arthur Henry Kraus (1880-1961), was born on 29 August 1880, in Wisconsin of German immigrants, Heinrich "Henry" W. Kraus (1843-), and Bertha Kraus (1844-1920). He was the last of four children : Ida (1872-1963), Alma (1874-), and Edward (1874-). His father came to America in 1851 and worked as a harness maker. Edward worked with his father, but Arthur entered the field of printing.
Kraus is interesting to the field of American numismatic history since he held a lifelong interest in collecting and selling coins and stamps and printed catalogues. Numismatic bibliophiles who come across these small printed catalogues might wonder who Arthur H. Kraus might be and how he factors into the American numismatic scene. This brief sketch was published to create a gateway to this publisher and dealer and expand our knowledge of his publications. He began around the time of B. Max Mehl and Tom Elder, who also both dealt in coins and published numismatic literature similar to Kraus. Yet Kraus remains obscure to us though he dealt in higher grade coins for over fifty years. He was among the largest print houses in Wisconsin yet Whitman Publishing entered Racine as a subsidiary of the Western Publishing Company started by his peer Edward Henry Wadewitz (1878-1955), and also that of the much younger Chet Lee Krause (1923-), old enough to be his grandson who emerged in Iola, Wisconsin. We find these two giants in Kraus' native land, Wisconsin, who became the largest numismatic publishing houses in the country. Why did they grow to titans and Kraus, relatively speaking, fail? Kraus remains to us a curious personality who could have been as big a name as Mehl, Whitman, or Krause, yet we know very little of him and how the hands of time kept him out of the lime light and into obscurity. It seems that he kept his sights low and did not have a vision of himself working and dealing as those already mentioned here. Perhaps he felt coins and stamps were small time business ventures that were too risky to depend on a steady income, whereas printing was a sure thing. He ran various ads in medical journals and periodicals advertising publishing medical forms and seems to have depended on that line of business as his main source of income treating numismatics lifelong as a sideline. His name never appears in The Numismatist as an ANA member. The Milwaukee Numismatic Society was established on October 29, 1934. Yet we do not find Kraus as a member, though Joseph and Morton Stack visited there and attended one of their meetings directly after the 1936 ANA Convention in Minneapolis. His absence from numismatic associations and organizations confirms his maintaining coin dealing as merely a sideline and that he kept himself rather private in numismatic buying and selling circles. One wonders if he also went under the name of the Badger Coin Service that sold in Milwaukee in the 1940's and 1950's in order to keep himself incognito.
He lived in Milwaukee his entire life at these various addresses : 200 Kraus Building, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 409 Chestnut Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 441 West Juman Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 411 Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 1721 West Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In 1900, according to L. T. Brodstone's report in Philatelic West and Camera News, April 1900, Kraus was an aspiring advertising agent collecting advertisers for periodicals.
Fig. 2. Kraus' advertisement in the May 1900 issue of Philatelic West and Camera News. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, Philatelic West and Camera News . For sale. Write email@example.com
Kraus was not only an advertising agent for a printer but eventually owned his own print house sometime in 1906. He also was a dealer as a side line printing his Official Premium Coin Catalogue and the Official Premium Coin Value Book beginning in 1906.
Fig. 3. Arthur H. Kraus, Official Premium Coin Catalogue. Buying Prices : Authentic List of Prices Paid on Rare United States Gold, Silver and Copper coins and of British North America. First Edition. (Milwaukee : Kraus Pubs., c. 1906) 24 p. Includes Fractional and Postal Currency. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. Write firstname.lastname@example.org
Fig. Kraus S.A.S.E., as a First Day Cover (FDC) postmarked September 1, 1923, first day of issue of the Scott #610 2c black Warren Gamaliel Harding. $75-$125 write email@example.com
Fig. 5. Kraus had strict policies regarding his mail order coin and stamp business. He only dealt in high grade specimens. For a small time dealer he preferred to deal in higher quality coins with good fixed premiums. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. Write firstname.lastname@example.org
He is listed in Ayer's Directory of Publications, 1906 edition, as the Editor of American Home Magazine published by Cramer-Krasselt Company.
On 19 September 1906 he married Sophia Anna Henricksen (1886-1943) at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They had two sons : Ralph (1919-1993); and Calvin Henry Kraus (1925-)
In 1906, he was a partner with Benjamin Fuelleman and both served as editors of the Badger Publishing Company, 407-409 Chestnut Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although Wisconsin is called "The Badger State" perhaps the Badger Publishing Company might be a clue to his also possibly trading as the Badger Stampco, also, Badger Stamp Company, and also as Badger Coin Service at 743 North 4th Street.
In 1907, he became partners with his brother-in-law Alfred E. Laudon in the firm of Kraus-Laudon Company Printers, 407-409 Chestnut Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Fig. 4. Arthur H. Kraus, Official Premium Coin Value Book. Buying Prices : Authentic List of Prices Paid on Rare United States Gold, Silver and Copper coins and of British North America. First Edition. (Milwaukee : Kraus Pubs., c. 1906) 24 p. Includes Fractional and Postal Currency. Remy Bourne, Fixed Price Lists & Premium Paid For Lists of United States Coin Dealers 1900-1929, Vol. II, pages 60-61 lists this edition (Fig. 4.) with its 32 pages. Photo enlarged to show the variant imprint. Note different title "Coin Value Book" and the parallel lines under the main title and the word Authentic reach to the Vitruvian wave scroll pattern border. Bourne does not list the Official Premium Coin Catalogue. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library. For sale. Write email@example.com
As a printer Kraus was inspired by the St. Louis Fair and U. S. Gold issues of 1904 and 1905 commemoratives to print this book. None are dated. Date given is hypothesized by historic criteria. The variant edition, Official Premium Coin Catalogue, in the Lupia Numismatic Library has only 24 pages.
Fig. 6. Kraus advertisement in Argosy Magazine, Volume 69, June 1912. He is soliciting to buy coins dated before 1890, and to sell his Coin Value Book for 10 cents. About this time we find Calvin E. Clarke, a coin dealer in LeRoy, New York imitate Kraus and publishes his own Coin Value Book.
His 1918 Draft Card gives his address as 1703 1/2 Cold Spring Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At that time he published two catalogues the first being his Official Premium Coin Catalogue and another on Revenue and Postage Stamps since he worked on the side as a coin and stamp dealer.
Fig. 8. Kraus advertisement Wisco Herb House selling his booklet for ten cents. Popular Science, Volume 93, November 1918, page 125.
Fig. 7. Kraus advertisement for his 24-page Buying Catalog for five cents in Popular Science, Volume 93, November 1918, page 125.
In that issue and in the following month he advertised also as Wisco Herb House selling an illustrated buying list for people to grow herbs to sell to him.
Fig. 9. Kraus advertisement buying Revenue and Postage Stamps. Popular Science, Volume 93, December 1918, page 97.
The 1921 City Directory lists him and his wife as owners of an Office Supply and Printing Company. At that time he employed 25 pressmen in his print house.
In 1930, U. S. Census lists him living at 11A McKinley Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1934, he was elected to membership in the Wisconsin Archaeological Society. Curiously, he never entered the Milwaukee Numismatic Society founded that October 1934.
He was an active coin dealer into his final years and published small ads in Numismatic Scrapbook most probably since he could not compete locally with Gimbel's Coin Department in Milwaukee. Curiously in those issues of Numismatic Scrapbook during this period that do not have his ads as Arthur Kraus, we do find ads for Badger Coin Service. Also, in The Numismatist, December 1957 we find him listed on page 1483 as a dealer where you can order a copy of Dick Yeoman's A Catalog of World Coins.
Kraus' obituary was published in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Monday, August 28, 1961, page 35
He died on August 26, 1961 at his home 1721 West Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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U. S. Census, 1900, Milwaukee
Ayer Directory of Publications (Philadelphia : N. W. Ayer & Son, 1906) : 930
Wisconsin State Gazetteer and Business Directory (Chicago : R. L. Polk & Co.,
1907) : 868
Popular Mechanics, November (1909) : 29
U. S. Census, 1910, Milwaukee
Green's Fruit Grower Vol. 31 (1911) : 47
Argosy, June 1912
Cosmopolitan, Vol. 53 (1912) : 136
Popular Mechanics, October (1912) : 167
U. S. Census, 1920, Milwaukee
1921 City Directory : 938
Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 93 (1918) : 97 ad for stamp catalogue; 125 ad for coin catalogue
Popular Science Monthly, January (1919) : 111
Northwestern Druggist, Vol. 28 (1920) : 82
Popular Science Monthly, July (1920) : 14
Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 99 (1921) : 8
Popular Science Monthly, June (1924) : 21
American Philatelist, Vol. 40 (1926) : 61
The Wisconsin Archaeologist Vols. 14-18 (1934) : 68
Popular Mechanics, March (1938) Badger Stamp Company
American Bookfinder (1938) : v, xxxviii
Stamps Weekly Vols. 25-26 (1938) : 248, 392
American Book Trade Directory No. 9 (1942) : 291
Popular Science, May (1946) : 51 Badger Coin Service
The Numismatist, Vol. 70 (1957) : 1483
Numismatic Scrapbook, Vol. 23 (1957) : 2381
Numismatic Scrapbook, Vol. 24 (1958) : 884 ad for Kraus, and July, 1537 & 1538 ads for Badger Coin Service
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Monday, August 28, 1961, page 35 obit