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Karl Vrba

Karl B. Vrba was born on November 10, 1845 in Klattau, Bohemia. He received his doctorate in 1872 in Prague, and in 1876 was appointed Professor of the Mineralogy at Czernowitz University. In 1881 he became a professor at Charles University (the Royal Imperial Bohemian University) in Prague, then was also placed in charge of the mineralogical collections at the Museum of the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague. He was a member and president of the Bohemian Academy of Science.

Vrba predominantly worked as crystallographer and published a large number of crystallographic works, many of which are related to the occurrence at Pisek, Bohemia. One of his most extensive works is a monograph on stephanite. The mineral frieseite was discovered and described by Vrba (but it was discredited in 1942 as a mixture of sternbergite and pyrite). He maintained a good relationship with Karl Friese, the chairman at that time of the Department of Mining Industry in the Ministry of Agriculture; Friese sent him much material to investigate, and Vrba completed and labeled the older part of the mineral collection which is kept now in the Vienna Natural History Museum. In addition to his crystallographic work Vrba also published some petrographic studies, some work on synthetic gemstones, a review of the meteorites in the Prague museum and so on.

Vrba was an extremely skillful and successful mineral collector and an experienced connoisseur of minerals. This quality benefitted the collections of the Prague museum, and the catalog of the collection confirms that he possessed a fine feeling for the beauty of minerals and good taste in the design of displays of such collections. Vrba was considered one of the most important Czech mineralogists of his day. The mineral vrbaite was named in his honor in 1912. He died in 1922.

The label shown here, dated 1887, indicates that his middle initial was "B," a fact that I have not found recorded elsewhere.

ROSNER, R. (2006) Scientists and mathematicians in Czernowitz University. European Society for the History of Science, Cracow.
ANON (1924) Zeitschrift für Kristallographie, Mineralogie und Petrographie: Monats- und Jahresversammlung am 15. Jänner 1923 im mineralogisch-petrographischen Institute der Universität. Vol. 36, p. 49-50.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Karl Vrba 44 x 62 mm.
The Mineralogical Record - Karl Vrba 44 x 62 mm
(Karlheinz Gerl collection)
The Mineralogical Record - Karl Vrba 44 x 67 mm;
Label with signature
(Simone and Peter Huber collection)
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