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Robert  Hesse
(1894-1984)

Robert Hesse (Sr.) was born on July 15, 1894 in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Clara and Charles Hesse, both of whom worked in a textile factory (Charles as a silk stamper and Clara as a chenille weaver). He and his family moved to Philadelphia around 1900. As a boy he worked at the Stetson Hat Factory in Philadelphia. In later years he wore a large white Stetson hat during his annual winter visits to Tucson. During World War I he was a dairy farmer and then operated a truck farm near New Britain, Pennsylvania. He then produced advertising for the Smith Corona Typewriter Company in Groton, New York, where he met his future bride, Eloise Booth. He later [1917] worked as a salesman for Abbott's Dairy in Philadelphia, opening new dairy routes as the city grew. He started selling printing for the Frank D. Jacobs Company of Philadelphia in the 1920s. This became his life-long career. For many years he was a co-owner of The Winchell Company, the leading printing company in Philadelphia, until his retirement around 1965.

He began collecting minerals in 1939 along with his friend and neighbor, Robert Linck. He specialized in minerals from Franklin, New Jersey, including fluorescent minerals, and also minerals of Pennsylvania. Some of his Pennsylvania collection is on display today at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He was well acquainted with the foremen at the various mines his generosity with good cigars led to many fine specimens! He was skilled at disposing of collections for others. Rather than charging a fee he would pick out a few prime minerals for his own collection. He loved to trade minerals. He also collected worldwide minerals, and would only purchase specimens he considered aesthetic. His home was like a mineral museum, with many cases filled with large and beautiful cabinet specimens. He had a display of fluorescent minerals in a special case in his basement. He was not open to visitors, and only a few people outside of his family ever saw the collection in its entirety.

Labels from his collection show minerals previously owned by such well known collectors as Clarance Bement, Fred Cassirer, Cienowski, Paul Desautels, Robert Gage, Geiger, Cal Gettings, Boodle Lane and Charles Toothaker. Although not a micromounter, he owned a collection of historic mounts by George Rakestraw, George Washington Fiss and others.

Robert Hesse worked as an assistant curator of minerals at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia along side Samuel Gordon, a close friend. Paul Desautels was another good friend, and visited Hesse at his home in Glenside many time. Hesse was a regular winter visitor to Tucson, where he surely visited the mineral show. His collection of Pennsylvania minerals was sold to Bryan Brookmyer of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After his death in Glenside, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on October 20, 1984, most of the remainder of his collection was sold to Robert Hauck of Franklin, New Jersey. There are also some specimens from his collection in the Delaware County Institute of Science in Media, Pennsylvania, and a small group of his specimens is retained by his grandson.

References:
MITCHELL, J. Roger (2006) Personal communication.
U.S. Federal census 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
World War I Draft Registration Cards
Robert Hesse Family, personal communication (2014).
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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