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Samuel Bothár

Dr. Samu (=Samuel) Bothár, a prominent 19th-century Hungarian mineral collector in Beszterczebánya (=Banská Bystrici, Slovakia), was born April 12, 1845 in Beszterczebánya, and died there on September 30, 1915. His brothers were Daniel Bothár, Michel Bothár and Ludovít Bothár. After studying in Banská Bystrici, Banská Štiavnica, Vienna and Budapest, he graduated in 1872 as a medical doctor. He worked as a physician in Budapest (1872–1973), Zvolen (1873–1882) and Banská Bystrici (1882–1915), where he was the town doctor. A graduate of the evangelical high school in Banská Bystrici, he provided the school with free health services. In 1885 he was accepted into the Hungarian Geological Society.

Bothár was a founding member of the Municipal Museum of Banská Bystrici (now the Central Slovakia Museum) in 1889, and was a donor to, and originator of, the first exposition presentation of the inorganic materials (1909). He was also the first (volunteer) curator of the natural-scientific collections of the museum (1909–1915). For the first exhibits, he even paid for the glass-topped showcases himself.

The most valuable mineral specimens in the museum are those from Bothar's collection, especially the specimens from the mining localities around Banská Bystrica. Bothár began to assemble his collection probably while still a student in Banská Štiavnica, in the second half of 1860's. He maintained collecting contacts with several prominent geologists of his day (J. Szabo, L. Cseh, T. Szontágh, F. Kubíny, G. Szádeczský and others). Bothár probably acquired many specimens as gifts from prominent personalities, as shown by the original labels with their names, e.g. F. Kubíny (acquired in 1866), G. Szádeczký (acquired in 1888), K. A. Zipser (acquired 1863) and so on. He donated most of it to the museum in 1895. His collection totalled about 1600–1700 specimens, including 713 specimens sold by his daughter Elena to the Mining Museum in Banská Štiavnica (in 1935).

Bothár's gift to the museum consisted of minerals (578 specimens), rocks (251 specimens), geological items (6 specimens), plant fossils (7 specimens) and zoological fossils (61 specimens). The complete collection contains 903 specimens. The mineral collection was designed to be systematic from the very beginning, with broad international coverage. Of special historical value are the mineral specimens from well-known Slovakian localities (for example libethenite and euchroite from Lubietová, evansite from Železník and devilline-herrengrundite from Špania Dolina). The Samuel Bothár collection is the single largest bequest of historically valuable specimens in the history of the museum.

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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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