The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

Eduard Bally

Eduard Bally was born in Schönenwerd, Switzerland on August 11, 1847, the son of Carl Franz Bally (1821-1899), who founded of the internationally known Bally shoe factory in 1851. Following his early education the young Eduard became a banking apprentice in Geneva before joining the family firm. He traveled to America several times in the 1870s to study shoe manufacturing technology, and succeeded his father as head of the Bally company in 1880. In due course the shoe company became so successful that in 1916 alone they sold 4 million pairs of shoes. In 1874 he married Marie Prior.

He began collecting minerals and other objects around 1870, and the collections became so voluminous that in 1910 he built a private museum to house it all in Schönenwerd, Switzerland; it was reopened as a public non-profit organization in 1923. The Bally-Prior Museum contained objects primarily from the fields of mineralogy and meteoritics, but also from zoology, anthropology, paleontology, archeology, and history. The mineralogical collection originally consisted of 5,000 specimens from Switzerland and from worldwide localities. The paleontological and archeological collections consisted of over 5,000 objects.

Eventually the mineral collection grew to over 10,000 specimens, acquired from the prominent dealers and collectors of his time. Sources included such dealers as August Pohndorf in Denver (1896; Bisbee minerals), A.E. Foote in Philadelphia, August Krantz in Bonn, Julius Böhm in Görlitz, and Boubée in Paris, as well as prominent collectors such as Dr. L. Bondy in Vienna (1900-1920, meteorites from the Royal Imperial Natural History Museum), Dr. Kürschner in Vienna (about 2,400 specimens in 1920), and about 200 specimens from the Simplon tunnel (1920) were acquired from the collection of A. Strub. Eduard Bally died in Schönenwerd on July 24, 1926, bringing an end to over 50 years of mineral collecting.

The museum collection was divided into "minerals of Switzerland" with 300 exhibits arranged according to specific regions, a "macro table" with 30 small minerals (especially Lengenbach specimens) and the large systematic collection (over 4 000 specimens of over 600 mineral species). Also included was a remarkable collection of 400 meteorites from 300 falls, assembled through the purchase of specimens from the collections of Ward-Coonley, Aristide Brezina and C.C.Lee, among others. Ultimately, due a lack of financing, the Bally-Prior Museum was closed and its collections were sold off at auction in 2003. A portion of the collection is preserved today in the Cantonal Museum of Geology in Lausanne.

MEISSER, N. (undated) La collection minéralogique d'Eduard Bally (1847-1926). Musée cantonal de géologie, Lausanne.
ABEGG, P. (undated) Die Geschichte des Museums Bally-Prior. Stiftung für Bally Familien und Firmengeschichte, Schönenwerd.
BURCHARD, U., and BODE, R. (1986) Mineral Museums of Europe. Walnut Hill Publishing.
To contribute more information please E-mail us at:

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 7 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 7

The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally Eduard Bally
The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally The Bally-Prior Museum.
The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally 25 x 91 mm,
An orginial display label from the Bally-Prior Museum.
The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally 28 x 42 mm (Courtesy of Armin Sorg)
The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally 26 x 76 mm, display label (Courtesy of Armin Sorg)
The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally 26 x 76 mm, display label (Courtesy of Armin Sorg)
The Mineralogical Record - Eduard Bally 26 x 76 mm, display label (Courtesy of Armin Sorg)
Contents copyright © 2019 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by