Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III
Fig. 1. Photograph of Ernest Haquette circa 1900. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
Ernest Haquette (1845-1911), was born in Bouzonville, Moselle, France, on November 11, 1845, son of Pillipe Gerardi Haquette (1818-1866), and Marie Ernesty. His paternal grandfather was Henri Gerardi Haquette, a member of Napoleon's Old Guard. His parents, consequently, were political refugees during the French empire and emigrated to America in 1851. Eventually they settled in Chicago in 1855. In 1857 they moved to Saint Louis, Missouri.
In 1865 Haquette moved to San Francisco, California, opening a Cafe. His brother Emile J. Haquette moved to Los Angeles, California. He became wealthy in his twenties dealing in the "Silver Rush" in Virginia City, Nevada, in what is known as the Comstock Lode.
In 1874 he married Isabelle Daly (1854-1934), a native of California born of English parents, and had one daughter Daisy Cecilie Haquette (1878-1964). Daly City in San Mateo County, California, is named after her brother.
In 1875 he became partners with George Hageman in the Crystal Palace Saloon, 5 Kearny Street, San Francisco. The popularity of their saloon may have influenced the naming of the Palace Saloon in Copperopolis, California in 1883. Rulau Ca-Cp2 is the store card of the latter saloon.
In the 1880's he purchased a vacation ranch-home at Belmont, in the San Mateo County, where he would often go on retreat from the cares of city life and the demands of business.
Figs. 2-4. Médaille de Sainte-Hélène. Above : Obverse and reverse photograph. Below : Drawing published in St. Louis Post Dispatch, Sunday, September 22, 1895, page 27. One of the 150 St. Helena Medals struck in 1857, inscribed May 5, 1821, made of gun metal, issued by a decree of Napoleon III in 1857, was given to his father by Napoleon III. His father devised it to Ernest Haquette on his death. In 1895 Ernest Haquette sent the medal to his brother Phillipe "Phil" Gerardi Haquette of St. Louis, Missouri. Phil Haquette willed the medal to his son John Henry Charles Louis Haquette. St. Louis Post Dispatch, Sunday, September 22, 1895, page 27.
After the dissolution of his partnership with Hageman on Friday, October 2, 1896, he continued the Crystal Palace Saloon, as the sole successor at 5 Kearny Street. Sometime about February 1897 Haquette discovered a large amount of counterfeit silver half dollars were circulating at his saloon. He began to give them back to his patrons complaining and developed the reputation of a crank. Fearing loosing his clientele he stopped scrutinizing the coins and accepted them. When the newspapers got wind of it late May 1897 they ran a report suspecting them to have been minted in Mexico. The story ran with the headlines "Silver, And Yet Spurious, An Alarming Increase of Counterfeit Half-Dollars. Government Officials Nonplused." San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, May 29, 1897, page 9.
Afterwards he opened the Palace of Art at 16 Post Street, San Francisco on April 15, 1900. A public notice was first published announcing the opening in the San Francisco Call, Wednesday, April 12, 1899, page 7. This was a Cafe and Art Gallery that also displayed jewels, gems, and sold coins. He used to exhibit paintings by his cousin Georges Haquette.
Fig. 5. Haquette's Coin Book, circa April 1900- April 1906. This is extremely rare. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
Fig. 6. Pages 12-13 of Haquette's Coin Book. Note the warning on California fractional gold pieces stating that, "No demand for charms," and he only sells those prior to 1870. The implication is that from the 1870's on the fractional gold pieces were not considered worth collecting and deemed to be charms or trinkets. A few years later this view was substantiated by Henry Russell Drowne in the American Journal of Numismatics, April (1910), and by Edgar Holmes Adams in both The Numismatist, February (1913), and his book on California Pioneer Gold published that same year.
Fig. 7. Journalist sketch of Haquette in Oakland Tribune, Saturday, April 16, 1904, page 13.
In 1904, Haquette redesigned his saloon to accommodate women. This, of course, was a bit scandalous for the time and the newspaper reporters gloated on all the exotic curios describing them as both moral and immoral serving as a tease for the women to seek and touch.
On June 24, 1905 he advertised a $500 reward for the return of an 83 carat diamond taken from his Palace of Art. This was most probably the 1869 discovery diamond in Dutch South Africa, called the "Star of South Africa".
In August 1905 he began purchasing tracts of land in Santa Cruz planning to build a summer cottage.
On April 18, 1906, Haquette suffered severe losses amounting to $200,000 from the San Francisco earthquake and fire. At the time he had earned $3,000 per month from his Palace of Art. During the fire Haquette paid several men to save the Crocker Home for the Poor next door using his own fire extinguishers, but to no avail. After the fire William Crocker heard of this and gave him $5,000 for his efforts. Hquette was ruined after the fire and could not develop his property at Santa Cruz as originally planned.
On February 20, 1907 Haquette announced his plans to rebuild the Palace of Art. However, in July 1907 Ernest L. Heuter filed suit against him for $12,329 claiming debt from old mortgage of original Palace of Art that was destroyed in the 1906 fire.
He owned an operated a rooming house at 1647 Post Street, San Francisco.
He died of dropsy, i.e., probably severe edema from congestive heart failure, on Friday, March 17, 1911, at his home 1647 Post Street, San Francisco. His funeral Mass was held at Notre Dame des Victoires. He was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Though the 1910 Census lists him as a widower he was survived by his wife and daughter Mrs. Louis Frederick Burnette, and his brother Emile J. Haquette. Following his death several newspapers ran colorful accounts of his life since Haquette was a celebrity of San Francisco's social life.
Fig. 8. Secret Service confiscates painting of currency, formerly owned by Ernest Haquette, as a violation of the law. San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, January 5, 1912, page 4.
Fig. 9. It seems highly probable that certain coins were included in this 1912 auction. Not listed in Martin Gengerke. San Francisco Call, Tuesday, January 30, 1912, page 15
Fig. 11. Haquette's widow outrageously being sued by San Mateo County for legal transfer of estate. San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, May 14, 1912, page 11.
Fig. 10. Haquette's coin that were in cases at the Palace of Art during the fire of 1906 were welded together. These did not sell at the auction and were packed incases. But robbers broke into widow Haquette's home and stole the coins. San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, February 28, 1912, page 5.
Fig. 12. Haquette's poor widow forced to sell possessions. San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, October 2, 1913, page 19.
On Tuesday, November 6, 1934, Isabelle Haquette died at age 84 in San Francisco.
San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 2, 1887, page 16
St. Louis Dispatch, Wednesday, February 15, 1888, page 5
"He Wore the St. Helena Medal, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Sunday, September 22, 1895, page 27
"Notice of dissolution," San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 4, 1896, page 30
Oakland Tribune, Saturday, April 16, 1904, page 13
San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, June 24, 1905, page 10
Evening Sentinel, Wednesday, August 23, 1905, page 5
"Ernest Haquette Lost Heavily," Evening Sentinel, Saturday, July 7, 1906, page 5
Evening Sentinel, Wednesday, February 20, 1907, page 7
San Francisco Call, Tuesday, July 16, 1907, page 16
U. S. Census-1910, San Francisco
"Death Claims Man of Unique Ideas", San Francisco Call, Saturday, March 18, 1911, page 26
Oakland Tribune, Saturday, March 25, 1911, page 7
San Francisco Call, Tuesday, January 30, 1912, page 15
San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, February 28, 1912, page 5.
San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, May 14, 1912, page 11.
San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, October 2, 1913, page 19.
San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, November 6, 1934, page 19. (Mrs. Haquette Obit)