Wilhelm Müseler was one of the most obstinate people I have ever met. He was straight-forward and uncompromising. His way of expressing whatever he thought without considering whether this might offend someone did not only make him friends. But those who actually took the time to get to know him better learned that he was a loyal and helpful friend with whom you could discuss the intricacies of numismatics as well as talk about everything under the sun.
Born in 1952 in Hanover, it was almost impossible for him to avoid numismatics. After all, his father – Karl Müseler, a lawyer and enthusiastic coin collector – was commissioned in the year of Wilhelm’s birth to rebuild the Preussag Collection of mining issues. Therefore, numismatics was already a constant topic at the Müseler home when Wilhelm was still in school.
In 1972, Wilhelm Müseler started studying ancient history in Tübingen, Saarbrücken and Konstanz. He had many different interests, and so he used this time to explore a variety of optional subjects: Empirical Cultural Studies, General Rhetoric, English and American Studies. He also travelled the Mediterranean and the Near East and saw places that are no longer accessible to us today due to various wars. He graduated in 1979. Actually, this should have been the beginning of his career at the university. During his work as a research associate at the faculty of Ancient History in Konstanz, Wilhelm Müseler was already preparing his doctoral dissertation – but the academic world did not suit the anything but conformist numismatist.
He found his purpose in the coin trade. Dieter Raab employed him as head of the department for ancient coins at the Dr. Busso Peus Nachf. auction house, giving him complete freedom in how he approached his work. Wilhelm Müseler needed this to reach his true potential. Whoever visited him at his office came into a smoky room, always a pile of cigarettes in the ashtray. Around him, there were usually several books lying around that Wilhelm used to do research on the coin that he was currently interested in. Wilhelm got bored when he had to describe well documented coins – regardless of their estimated price. He approached the descriptions of such coins in a rather spartan fashion. But when something sparked his interest, he wrote commentaries of impressive length that could stand comparison with any scholarly work – also regardless of their estimated price.
In some fields that were neglected by many researchers at the time, Wilhelm Müseler became the “one and only” expert. One of them was Lycia. He was fascinated by its coinage and significantly contributed to the research of these issues. He always worked together with collectors. Wilhelm Müseler was an appreciated consultant, especially for collectors who did not want to limit their collections to the classical coinage of Magna Graecia or Rome. He always regarded the collections of “his collectors” a little as they were his own and really enjoyed it to shout their high bids into the auction room with his deep voice.
In 2016, Wilhelm Müseler retired. He looked forward to sharing the pleasures of French country life with his second wife, Rose de la Chaise. He was happy because he now had the time to finish his research projects. He attended many numismatic congresses, was a frequent visitor at coin shows and had fun continuing what he had done all his life, even after his retirement.
A highlight was when he presented his opus on Lycian coinage to the scholarly world in 2016. Protesting against the attitude of some scholars that excluded coins that had been published by the coin trade, he made the conscious decision to only use the coins of his private collections for this book.
The last time I saw Wilhelm Müseler was at the International Numismatic Congress in Warsaw in September 2022. He had so much fun there. A few weeks later, he was diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer that progressed at a terrifying pace.
Wilhelm Müseler decided to depart as he had lived: self-determined and with dignity. He died on 20 February 2023 surrounded by his family: his wife Rosmarie, his children Ariane, Sabine and Ghislain. Our sympathy goes out to them. They lost a loving husband and father.
Numismatics loses a sharp thinker and enthusiastic researcher who knew the material like nobody else.
Requiescat in pace.