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H. H. Tammen

Harry Heye Tammen was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 6, 1856, the son of a German immigrant pharmacist. He attended Knapps Academy in Baltimore, then worked in Philadelphia before moving to Denver in 1880. With his partner Charles A. Stuart he worked as a Denver bartender in 1880, and in 1881 they established the firm of H.H. Tammen & Co. (which in 1896 became the H.H. Tammen Curio Co., with partners Carl Litzenberger and Joseph Cox ) in Denver, Colorado. Deeply interested in the study of mineralogy, he published a promotional journal called Western Echoes magazine, "Devoted to Mineralogy, Natural History, Botany, &c. &c." Volume 1 number 1 is copyrighted 1882.

Tammen sold mineral specimens and mineral collections, some of which must have been quite fine. His "native silver in elongated octahedrons and arborescent forms, from the Stonewall Jackson mine, McMillanville, Arizona" (specimens priced up to an expensive $40), for example, would be highly prized today. He offered Pikes Peak amazonite specimens ("we can at all times furnish them") priced up to $20, "the high-priced ones are, of course, comparatively very large and of considerable weight, including twin crystals and large groups of same, and are suitable for State or National museums or other large collections." His selection of fine Colorado telluride minerals included petzite, , sylvanite, coloradoite, altaite, calaverite, hessite, and native tellurium.

Tammen also manufactured a very popular line of "Colorado curiosities" and "mineral novelties" consusting of a variety of numbered and identified Colorado mineral and ore specimens cemented onto clocks, caskets, inkstands (one of which won an award at the 1881 Colorado State Fair), centerpieces, crosses, horseshoes and so on for ornamental purposes. He described these items as "perfect in taste, blending of colors, etc., and absolutely trustworthy as regards the cataloguing, classification and specifications of the different minerals employed in the construction of each article." He also dealt in stereoscopic and other photos of the West (he was supplied by the famous Western photographer W.H. Jackson), photo albums, books on the West, silver souvenir spoons, a wide variety of humorous and scenic postcards (especially of mining areas), fossil fish, polished agates, botanical specimens, Pueblo Indian pottery, Tlingit Indian carvings, relics and taxidermy items from his stores in Denver.

In 1895 Tammen formed a partnership with F.G. Bonfils (whom he had met at the Chicago World's Fair) and they became co-owners and co-editors of the Denver Post. Their publishing business flourished, and Tammen's business successes made him a wealthy man. In 1917 Buffalo Bill Cody happened to die while in Denver, and Tammen (one of the city's biggest boosters) offered Cody's widow $10,000 if she would allow Cody to be buried in Denver; she accepted, and the ensuing funeral procession drew 50,000 people. He established the H.H. Tammen Trust in 1924, providing essential health care for children of families who cannot afford to pay. Tammen died July 19, 1924. The H.H. Tammen Curio Co. was in business until 1953, and possibly as late as 1962.

History of Colorado, v.5.
American National Biography, (1999)
Biographical Dictionary of American Journalism (1989)
Who Was Who in America. Historical Volume, 1607-1896 (1967)
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen H.H. Tammen
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen Postcard showing the Tammen Company building in Denver between the Post Office and the Mining Exchange
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen 45 x 70 mm
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen The Apex Mineral Cabinet, assembled and sold by H.H. Tammen in 1888-1890. (Nina Accardo collection)
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen Text affixed inside the cover of the Apex Mineral Cabinet. (Nina Accardo collection)
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen 22 x 15 mm
The cover of Tammen's Western Echos (1882)
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen Ad for H.H. Tammen & Co. (1882)
The Mineralogical Record - H. H. Tammen Tammen's mineral-covered mantle clock. Each specimen is carefully identified.
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