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Max Philipp Geipel

Max Philipp Geipel was born in the venerable coal-mining town of Zwickau, Saxony on November 14, 1871, the second son of Leander Geipel, a physician. Max grew up in Zwickau, and entered public school at age six; on Easter Sunday 1883 he was accepted into the first form at the Realgymnasium in Zwickau. After nine years instruction there, and upon meeting all standards for matriculation in the Hochschule, he decided to fulfill his military obligation, joining the "Prince George of Saxony" infantry regiment in Möckern near Leipzig, where, as a junior officer he was released into the reserves on April 1, 1893.

He enrolled at the Freiberg Mining Academy through the winter semester of 1894-1895, then transferred to the Clausthal Mining Academy. There, on July 24, 1895, he passed his preliminary examination for a degree: the areas of examination were mathematics, physics, general chemistry, mechanics, blowpipe testing, mineralogy and geognosie. In Clausthal, as earlier in Freiberg, Geipel took part regularly in many field trips to local mines. At Clausthal on April 24, 1897, he successfully passed his certifying examination to be a mining engineer.

On November 1, 1897 he began work as a common miner in the Leopoldshall salt mine at Staβfurt, soon thereafter becoming an overseer. Geipel was then hired in 1898 as a pit foreman in the Kuxberger area; from 1899 he served as works manager at the experimental Zabenstedter shaft; and from 1900 as technical administrative secretary at Eisleben. In 1901 Geipel was appointed Mine Inspector and, after receiving a further promotion in 1902, he married Marie Ernestine Auguste Dorothea Seigert (1875-1962) of Clausthal. Finally, in 1907, he was made Chief Mine Inspector, and then Mine Director.

Geipel was then sent to appraise copper mines in Norway and Sweden, and spent more than a year evaluating properties in Peru, Chile, traveling first to New York; there he visited the American Museum of Natural History, where the mineral collection, and especially the meteorites, fascinated him. In June he rode on horseback to the famous mines of Quiruvilca, where he stayed for a week, recording details about the mineralization, ore quality, geological relations of the metal deposits, and mining methods. Geipel left Lima on the just-completed Oroya railroad line and visited other deposits in the Andes, such as Tamboraque, Oroya, Cerro de Pasco and Huancayo. In 1919 he resigned from his position and went to the brown coal mines at Budweis, Bohemia. Unfortunately a crippling accident there in 1920 forced him to retired to Jocketa, near Plauen, and there he died on July 1, 1925.

During his time with the Mansfeld mining company, Geipel built an extensive mineral collection. The greatest part of it was obtained by purchase from dealers; but there are also many records [receipts] of acquisitions from the Mansfeld mines and from Geipel's homeland of Saxony. Geipel was the first to notice the occurrence of uraninite among the ore species of the Mansfeld district. In a letter to a mineral dealer in Paris in early 1914 Geipel expressed his interest in only a few minerals among the dealer's offerings (among others, hauerite from Radusa, Sicily; cuprite from Chessy, France; and lorandite from Allchar, Macedonia), almost apologizing with the remark "I have a collection of over 8,000 mineral specimens."

In the last years of his life Geipel fell into severe poverty, and there was no alternative but to sell his beloved mineral collection. In 1921 he offered his diamonds and gold ore specimens to the Mansfeld mining company. Much of the rest of his mineral collection was sold his friend, a textile manufacturer named Zschweigert, and was then merged with Zschweigert's collection; after World War II the combined collection was divided between Zschweigert's heirs in Plauen and Hof. The remaining portion of Geipel's collection, no longer even remotely tallying with his 1914 claim of 8,000 specimens, was purchased by Prof. Dr. Hugo Strunz, then Director of the Mineralogical-Geological Institute, and was later acquired (between 1949 and 1952) by the Regensburg Research Institute. A few of Geipel's excellent specimens from the Freiberg mining district were displayed on the occasion of the "800 Years of Freiberg" exhibit at the 1986 Munich Mineral Show.

JANKOWSKI, G., and ROSE, D. (1992) Max Philipp Geipel zum 120. Geburtstag - ein Bergingenieur und Mineraliensammler im Mansfelder Kupferschieferbergbau zu Beginn unseres Jahrhunderts. Der Aufschluss, 43 (1), 35-45.
MEIER, St., and GERL, K. (2011) Historische Mineralienetiketten und ihre Sammler / No. 5: Max Philipp Geipel / Bergdirektor und Mineraliensammler. Lapis, 36 (9), 48-51 and 62.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Max Philipp Geipel
The Mineralogical Record - Max Philipp Geipel 41 x 69 mm,
A specimen acquired by the Regensburg Hochschule
The Mineralogical Record - Max Philipp Geipel 42 x 69 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Max Philipp Geipel 29 x 49 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Max Philipp Geipel 46 x 78 mm,
A specimen acquired by the Regensburg Hochschule
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