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Willy Hirsch

The German mineral dealer Willy Hirsch came from a rich Augsburg family. His father had moved to Munich, and died there around 1907. Willy attended the Freiberg Mining Academy and obtained his degree in mining engineering in 1908. He was especially interested in mineralogy. While living in Keil in 1909 he decided to open a mineral business to supply institutes and museums with mineral specimens. He partnered with two of his friends, both mining engineers, naned Adam and Blomberg. Blomberg was a pleasant Finn whose task was to travel the Finnish islands and Scandinavia, looking for mineral specimens for the business. Adam was assigned to work the San Piero en Campo pegmatite mine on the island of Elba for tourmaline specimens. Hirsch managed the warehouse and sales aspects of the business. The partnership dissolved soon afterwards, though. Blomberg vanished first, and probably died during WW I. Adam was forced to abandon the tourmaline mine, since it had never paid for itself anyway. Hirsch remained in Kiel for a while, then moved to Munich, where he opened a new mineral business, first in partnership with Arthur Kusche, and then on his own. He first advertised in the March 1930 issue of Rocks & Minerals as follows:

"Mineral collectors! If you will go to Oberammergau don't forget to see my mineral collections in Munich. I shall be pleased to show you my full stock of best minerals of all the world. All who cannot come please let me know and I will send minerals on approval. Postage free against free return. Dipl. Ing. Willy Hirsch, Furstenstr. 22, Munich, Germany."

Hirsch continued to advertise regularly for the next nine years; his last ad appeared in April 1939, offering "Thousands of choice mineral specimens from European and other localities." Unfortunately, because he was a Jew, his property was confiscated and sold by the Nazis, and he was forced to leave Germany in May of 1939. He traveled to South America where he died (of a brain ailment) in exile in La Paz, Bolivia on August 14, 1939. His widow returned to Munich in 1946, destitute, and appealed to Peter Zodac for assistance in trade for mineral specimens.

HERZENBERG, R. (1998) An meinen Sohn (To my son). [Memoirs written during the 1940's and translated during the 1990's by Leonardo (Leonhard) Herzenberg.
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