David Queller, who grew from a shoe-shiner to become owner of the Mickley-Hawn-Queller example of the 1804 Draped Bust dollar, learned to succeed. He died Dec. 24, age 93.
In the nearly 30 years I’ve worked at Coin World, not a day has gone by that I haven’t learned something.
Often the personal connection behind a coin or medal or piece of paper money is the factor that most fascinates me. It’s people who collect these numismatic items. People who do the research to tell the story behind these items.
So when we lose a member of the hobby, whether I had the privilege of knowing them or not, I often reflect on their contributions beyond the collectible item.
Noted pattern and dollar collector and researcher David Queller died Dec. 24, 2014, closing out a remarkable life at the age of 93.
Mr. Queller is probably best known for owning the Mickley-Hawn-Queller example of the 1804 dollar. Heritage Auctions sold the coin in 2008 for $3,737,500.
Mr. Queller didn’t grow up with privilege and money. He was born June 27, in Brooklyn, New York. A brief tribute published online at Heritage Auctions’ website provides a basic background of his life. One paragraph in particular caught my eye:
“As a child of the depression, David found that what he’d get from life, he’d have to earn. He learned early how to be successful. When times got tough, and his family needed to put food on the table, he worked selling magazine subscriptions, shining shoes for free (because he’d make more money in tips than he would charging a fee), and then finally quit school to work in his father's hardware store. After a hard day toiling in the city, David would return to Brooklyn for night school, where he studied until World War II broke out.”
He did what he needed to do to meet his obligations in the family. His attendance at night school classes tell me he had a thirst for knowledge and the desire to improve himself.
When the United States entered World War II, he attended U.S. naval officer training school and spent the war studying engineering at Columbia University, Denison University, and the University of New Mexico.
“When the war ended, he declined the opportunity to become an officer and instead headed home to Brooklyn. There, he began to formulate a business plan that would allow him to take the foundation of his father’s retail hardware store and transform it into a wholesale warehouse supplying the postwar economy of New York with high-quality industrial tools,” according to the Heritage tribute.
He married in 1958 and began a family that would number four children and nine grandchildren at his death.
Some would say he was in the right place at the right time. Maybe. But I think no matter what, he was always looking ahead for the next opportunity in his career. He retired in 1997 and moved to Boca Raton, Florida.
He was not born into money or privileged circumstances. But it appears he was always considering his options to expand his understanding of many things, including his chosen collecting field.
His story tells me that collectors, no matter their circumstances, must continually find ways to move forward in their knowledge. Books and friendships within the hobby are two pathways that come to mind.
Those paths do not always lead to another item to add to a physical collection. But venturing down them will enhance the collecting experience.
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