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Frederick Braun

Frederick Braun was born in Nordhausen, Germany on April 29, 1841, and emigrated to America in 1861, settling in Chicago where he worked as a carpenter. He was living in Minnesota in 1872, and Indiana in 1875, probably collecting Indian artifacts (which were plentiful on the Great Plains in those days). By 1879 he had settled with his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was dealing in artifacts (and probably also minerals); He was hired by a merchant named Paul More to collect fossils on his behalf. At Crawfordsville, Indiana Braun opened the first quarry for the famous Keokuk crinoids. In 1883 he sold archeological artifacts to the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna, Austria.

By 1889 he had moved to New York City and was operating a shop at 17 Crosby Street. He sold minerals, fossils, relics and shells. In August 1889 his first ad in The Exchangers' Monthly offered "Geological, mineralogical, archaeological, conchological, etc., specimens" at his "large establishment." He appears to have catered to schools, considering that he offered many study sets of 30 to 5000 fossils, and 25 to 350 minerals and rocks. He was also available as a curatorial consultant--"Museum collections arranged and labeled at reasonable prices." He continued advertising periodically in Exchangers' Monthly, Minerals and The Mineral Collector through June 1894, always at the Crosby address (though after 1890 he expanded to 15 & 17 Crosby Street). His home address was No. 9 Front Street, Brooklyn, New York.

Frederick Braun presented a paper before the New York Academy of Sciences in 1896, "On some new minerals from New York City, with exhibition of specimens." He "described a new discovery of chondrodite, spinel and little balls of graphite, with some undetermined and excessively hard inclusion from the ledges in the western part of Fordham. He also mentioned a new occurrence of wollastonite from the city."

The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences reported in their 1903 yearbook that they possessed a large collection of New York fossils prepared for them by Braun, and also a display collection of fossils on loan from Braun. Braun also collected paleontological specimens for the New York State Museum in 1903.

Waldemar Schaller's 1904 paper on dumortierite (in Contributions to Economic Geology) gratefully acknowledged Braun's loan of his personal collection of the finest known New York dumortierite specimens.

Brett and Taylor (1997) report:

"Extensive collecting from the Lockport Gulf crinoid beds was undertaken by Frederick Braun, who was employed by the great crinoid taxonomist Frank Springer in the summers of 1911 and 1914. To obtain additional specimens of crinoids and cystoids, Braun used dynamite to excavate quarried openings at the site of Ringueberg's earlier discoveries and at two other locations farther downstream. Braun's operations resulted in the discovery of numerous well-preserved echinoderm specimens that are now deposited in the Springer Collection of the U.S. National Museum. A greater number of specimens was obtained by Braun than had been amassed by the combined efforts of Hall, Ringueberg, and other Lockport collectors."

The 1913 report of the U.S. National Museum stated further:

"Under the direction and at the expense of Mr. Frank Springer, associate in paleontology, Mr. Frederick Braun made prolonged trips through the Appalachian Valley from Virginia to Tennessee in search of crinoids and cystids in the Ordovician limestone. Later, in the region of Cape Girardeau, Mo., Mr. Braun secured from Lower Devonian rocks some remarkable examples of the bulbous rooted crinoid, Scyphocrinus, which show that the so-called Camarocrinus is only the root of this form. Four large slabs containing specimens illustrating this discovery were sent to the Museum."

Frederick Braun died in Brooklyn, New York on November 12, 1918, and his death was announced by George Ashby at the November 1918 meeting of the New York Mineralogical Club. Albert C. Bates, reminiscing in the June 1929 issue of Rocks & Minerals about dealers he had known, wrote:

"Fred. Braun had a store on Crosby Street, New York City. He was an active field worker and was often engaged for long periods by amateur collectors to collect geological specimens. He had but little taste for storekeeping and no selling ability. Although an irascible man, he had the sympathy of the collectors who knew him."

Braun assembled a remarkable personal collection of at least 500 specimens of native silver and silver-containing minerals from localities worldwide. Over 70 of the labels from this collection were acquired by the late Ron Bentley for his label collection, but his source (and the disposition of the specimens) is unknown.

Braun's remaining stock of minerals was acquired in 1933 by The Gem Shop in Helena, Montana. Apparently it had been in storage for some years following Braun's death. During his lifetime Braun had tried to sell it to various institutions as "The Fred Braun Collection" but had no success. His specimens represented "few if any of the localities discovered in the last 25 years," and were thought to be of special interest to any collectors who had gotten started in the previous 15-20 years, as most if not all of the specimens were "old-timers." A "good assortment" of New York City minerals were included, as well as specimens from old collections that Braun had acquired over the years.

US Federal Census, 1880.
Gerard van Bussel, Ethnology Museum, Vienna (2009) Personal communication.
BRETT, C.E., and TAYLOR, W.L. (1997) in Paleontological Events: Stratigraphic, Ecological, and Evolutionary Implications.
ANON. () Obituary. Frederick Braun. American Journal of Science, p. 402.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun Braun's August 1889 ad in Exchangers' Monthly
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun 28 x 67 mm;
Earliest label?
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun 28 x 67 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun 29 x 67 mm;
Two labels from Braun's silver collection
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun 27 x 65 mm;
(Block lettering)
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun Some of Braun's handwriiten specimen labels
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick Braun 43 x 67 mm;
Front and back of one of Braun's handwritten labels showing the Front Street address
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