The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 48, November 18, 2012, Article 7


On Monday I learned via George Cuhaj that token researcher and author Russ Rulau had passed away. Here's his official obituary. -Editor

Russ Rulau Russell Alphonse Rulau, age 86, of Iola, died Monday, November 12th, 2012 at his residence. Born Sept. 21, 1926 at Chicago, Ill., and raised during the Depression in Milwaukee, Wis., he graduated with honors from Bay View High School in Jan. 1944. Being 17 and desirous of joining the Army, he took a job at a Cicero, IL defense plant until turning 18, then volunteered for Army service at Fort Sheridan, IL. After 17 weeks' infantry reconnaissance scout training at Camp Fannin, Texas, he was shipped to the Pacific theater and volunteered for airborne training, completing jump/glider school in Luzon and was assigned to 187th Infantry, 11th Airborne Division, serving therewith until July, 1947 on Luzon, Okinawa, Honshu and Hokkaido. He often stated the high point of his service came July 30, 1945 when he was assigned to General Macarthur's arrival honor guard from among the first combat troops to reach Japan at Atsugi Field the evening before.

He reenlisted in 1947 and was assigned as an Army recruiting sergeant in Milwaukee, being discharged April 27, 1950. He joined the newly-formed USAF Reserve April 28, 1950 and was called to active duty for the Korean War Oct. 22, 1950, remaining with the Air Force until Dec. 17, 1962. Then he rejoined the Air Force Reserve through May 2, 1973, though he was not called for Vietnam War service. His rank was Master Sergeant.

The most important duties he performed in the Cold War Air Force was as Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Message Branch of United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) in Germany 1958-59 and as sergeant major of a combined Army-Navy-Air Force-Atomic Energy Commission nuclear unit in New Mexico during the Cuban missile crisis of October, 1962.

Though lacking formal education, he began a long career as writer-editor- author-consultant in the numismatic field beginning in December, 1962, rising from staff writer to full editor in just nine months with Amos Press, Sidney, Ohio. He joined Krause Publications as a newspaper editor in April 1974, taking early retirement August, 1984 and becoming a self-employed author and consultant. He was appointed in 1985 by England's Pobjoy Mint as vice president of U.S. sales operations, leaving this service in December, 1998. He received awards from Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush I, and from Governors Dreyfus and McCallum. In 1993 he was awarded the Clemy, highest honor of the Numismatic Literary Guild; was made a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society, New York in 1999, and was inducted into the Numismatic Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs in 2000.

A Republican from age 15 onward, he served as Waupaca County GOP vice chairman 1977-79; chairman 1979-82; 3rd vice chairman of the Wisconsin GOP 1981-83.

The son of Alphonse Rulau and Ruth Terine Thorsen, he married Darlene Grizzell on Feb 1, 1968 in Sidney, Ohio. She preceded him in death in 2008. He is survived by nine children, 20 grandchildren and four great-grand children. Darlene died in 2008. He was a life member of the VFW and commander of its Iola post for eight terms, Also active in the American Legion, 11th Airborne Division Association and 187th RCT (Rakkasans) association. His favorite charities were the Salvation Army and a Russian couple he hosted in the U.S.A. in 1992.

He has long been considered the number one token authority in the United States and Latin America and has written extensively on all numismatic subjects from ancient times to the present, with 17 books to his credit. In early 2006 he began a new career path with Krause Publications, authoring an Internet catalog of all U.S. tokens from 1700 through 1900.

A Memorial Service will be held at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Iola at 11:30 am on Friday, November 16th, with Reverend Dennis Olson officiating. Memorial Visitation will be held Friday 10:30 am - 11:30 am. at the church. Interment of Cremains with full Military Rites will be in the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in King, Wisconsin. Register Book and online condolences may be sent by visiting

To read the complete obituary, see: Russell Alphonse Rulau (

Clifford Mishler provided the following remembrance of Russ. Thanks! -Editor

My interactions with Russ Rulau date back through roughly 50 years. My recollection is that our first contact probably came at Riverside, California, back in February of 1962. The occasion would have been a gathering of the then Southern California Exonumist Society, hosted at the historic Mission Inn in that city, which I availed myself of while on a driving tour through the southwest and the west coast. Over the next couple years we exchanged letters on several occasions, next meeting over lunch at a 1963 late winter coin show in Cleveland.

We were both possessed of deep involvements in the then emerging blossoming enthusiasm for collecting in the exonumia realm. Our Cleveland meeting was occasioned by his desire to divest himself of editorship of the Journal of the Token and Medal Society, given his recent acceptance of a staff writer position at Coin World. That meeting turned out to be roughly coincident in timing with my having committed to taking up a similar position with Numismatic News. Ultimately, editorship of the Journal passed from Russ into the hands of Alfred Hock that fall, who held the position for roughly a year, with me picking it up in the fall of 1964 and holding it through 1968.

The ten years that passed between our 1963 meeting and Russ’ joining the Krause Publications staff in early 1974 found us frequently crossing paths on the numismatic trail as a consequence of our professional travels, including ongoing interaction where our mutual interests where the welfare of the exonumia field and the Token and Medal Society were concerned. For his part, Russ was the father of the term exonumist; combining the meaning of “exo” -- “without or outside” -- and the abbreviation “numis” for numismatics, thus “outside the usual or conventional phases of numismatic activity.” I on the other hand was among the 13 enthusiasts met in Detroit on November 19, 1960, of whom only Dave Bowers, Tom Fruit and myself survive, to give birth to the organization today known as the Token and Medal Society.

In 1974 Russ joined the Krause staff as editor of the recently launched World Coin News. He played an integral role in the development and growth of the publication and related world coin reference works released over the next ten years. Leaving the company to become a self-employed author and consultant in the numismatic field in the summer of 1984, in 1985 he began 13 year association with the Pobjoy Mint in a sales and marketing capacity for the United States. Having retired from the Pobjoy post at the end of 1998, since then much of his time was again spent in pursuit of authorship and consulting tasks, with our paths crossing frequently at the company and around Iola until recent years.

Russ was a widely recognized researcher, cataloger and author in the U.S. and Latin American token realms, having authored a variety of articles and many references, some in several editions, for Krause Publications, culminating with publication of the Standard Catalog of United States Tokens, embracing three centuries from colonial times to the close of the 19th century, released in several editions over the years. Less well recognized is the fact that he was a motivational force behind the development of the Coin of The Year program conducted annually by Krause Publications, for which the first awards embraced the issues of 1982 which were presented in 1984 after he had separated from the company.

I personally found Russ to be a most interesting and intense individual. He possessed a very high degree of certainty and assurance, sometimes to a fault. This often tended turned people off. What one could always expect from him, however, was a commitment to delivering the goods as he was able to devolve them given the available resources. Possessing a militaristic bent, he was always prepared to defend with apt reasoning his or the company’s positions against all comers. This also came through in Russ’ political and fiscal persuasions, he being a conservative Republican and precious metals advocate of the highest order.

Always boiling beneath the surface was a driving conviction, I would say, to contribute as best he might towards the well-being of our hobby community, the country and mankind.

I will miss what had become increasingly infrequent interactions with Russ in more recent years as our paths diverged and his health declined.

Dave Harper of Numismatic News published a remembrance as well. Here's an excerpt. The image of Rulau that I paired above with his obituary is taken from this article. -Editor

He liked to be able to earn a living in the field that he had first fallen in love with in 1939, the year he turned 13. But World War II interrupted and rerouted his life as it did those of millions of others. His time in the military stretched on for nearly 20 years before he got the chance to earn a living in numismatics when he joined the staff of Coin World at the end of 1962. That made him a competitor of Numismatic News. But more importantly it made him a professional in the field that he had always loved. He got paid for it.

I learned quickly that he was proud of the fact that he had invented the word “exonumia” to label the collecting of non-coin and non-paper money items like medals, tokens and wooden nickels, but his major contribution to numismatics occurred in the world coin field where he was editor of two important periodicals. The first was World Coins magazine that he started and headed 1964-1974. He ceased being a competitor and joined up with Krause Publications to help get World Coin News started properly in 1974.

To read the complete article, see: Rulau happy to go where hobby led (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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