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Oskar Gebhardt
(1847-1921)

Oskar Gebhardt was born in Redwitz (later called Marktredwitz), Bavaria on December 25, 1847. From 1860 to 1862 he lived with his uncle, Wilhelm Baumärtel, and attended the agricultural and vocational school in Hof. Baumärtel was at that time Director of the Hofer Gasworks and an instructor in natural history, and he inspired in Gebhardt a love of nature and of collecting specimens. Gebhardt built a substantial mineralogical and botanical collection while still a student.

Gebhardt enrolled at the Commercial Institute in Würzburg and attended lectures in Chemistry there. After completing his training he moved to Nuremberg where he worked for the pencil manufacturers A.W. Faber, Schwan, Fröscheis and Nopitsch, eventually becoming an attorney. In 1891 he took a position with the sheetmetal manufacturer Rauch in Nuremberg, and in 1895 was transferred to Marktredwitz.

At the age of 48 Gebhardt decided to retire from industry and devote himself to the study of mineralogy. He exchanged specimens with other collectors, dealers and institutions abroad and thereby built an even more impressive collection. His systematic collection included over 2,000 specimens from historic localities throughout Europe and elsewhere. The regional portion contained well over 1,000 minerals and rock specimens, many of which Gebhardt collected himself on innumerable collecting trips. Those trips were frequently made on foot, with backpack, and more rarely on horseback or by car or railroad.

Oskar Gebhardt died on 2 April 1921, following a brief illness, at the age of 73. His sister Emma Gebhardt inherited all of his possessions, and Gebhardt's last request of her was that she negotiate the donation of his mineral collection to the city of Marktredwitz, with the stipulation that it is always to be known as the "Oskar Gebhardt Mineral Collection" and nothing may ever be sold. The city agreed to house the collection in "lockable museum-style cases" in suitable quarters which would be open to the public.

Unfortunately, no suitable building could be found after the city accepted the donation. A part of the collection was transferred on loan to the local high school, to be used for teaching purposes, and the rest was put into storage. After several moves and years of storage under unfavorable conditions the majority of the collection had become disordered and dirty, and many specimens had been lost or damaged. Finally it ended up in the attic of the historic Marktredwitz City Hall. A local mineral collector, Stefan Meier, then volunteered to clean and reorganize the collection. He found that it was still of great historical value because of the many specimens from now-extinct localities, and also the many interesting old specimen labels and the good condition of the original cabinets.

Reference:
MEIER, S. (2001) Bemerkenswerte Etiketten aus der Oskar-Gebhardt´schen Mineraliensammlung (Teil 1). Mitt. Mineralfunde aus NO-Bayern, 6, 11-18.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
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