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J.  Lommel
(fl. 1826-1867)

In 1841 J. Lommel completed a 320-page 10-year index to the Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, the highly respected mineralogical journal of Karl Caesar von Leonhard and Heinrich Bronn, covering the years 1830-1839; it was published in Stuttgart by E. Schweizerbart. This may have been the catalyst for Leonhard to bring Lommel into the mineral dealership he owned, called the Heidelbeger Mineralien-Comptoir, and setting him up as proprietor.

According to the Heidelberg City Directories, Lommel was living on the Schiffgasse in 1840, 1842 and 1844, and he had moved to a new address, Sandgasse No. 4 by 1846. He was listed there as “J. Lommel, Mineralogist,” and the records note that “his mineral cabinet is there.” By 1853 he had formally taken over management of the Heidelberger Mineralien-Comptoir. In that year Karl von Leonhard's son, Gustav von Leonhard (who eventually took over from his father as editor of Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie), published an article about orthite. Apparently Gustav and Lommel had been field-collecting partners. In the article he writes: “Quite a long time ago I and J. Lommel, the Managing Director of the Heidelberger Mineralien-Comptoirs, made an excursion to the Birkenaue Valley, having become aware of a peculiar mineral which is found there. We looked in vain for better examples.”

In 1858, Heinrich Bronn noted in a discussion of bituminous fossils from Carinthia that large and complete collections of the fossils were available from Heidelberg Mineralien-Comptoir, thanks to “the efforts of Mr. Lommel.” Lommel is listed as a “mineralogist” in the 1859 Verhandlungen des naturhistorisch-medizinischen Vereins zu Heidelberg.

In the 1860 edition of Führer durch Heidelberg & Umgebungen (“Guide to Heidelberg and its Environs”) there is an ad for the Heidelberger Mineralien-Comptoir of J. Lommel at Sandgasse No. 4, offering minerals and shells by the piece or in collections; their “small mineral collection” of 100 labeled specimens was deemed especially appropriate as a gift for someone. In the following year Lommel came out with an eight-page catalog of specimens under his own authorship (previous catalogs had been composed anonymously, no doubt by Leonhard), in French, German and English, entitled Verzeichniss von Versteinerungen herausgegeben vom Heidelberger Mineralien-Comptoir.

Professor Julius von Haast wrote in 1881 about acquiring specimens from Lommel for the Canterbury Museum collection in New Zealand: “In 1862, at my suggestion, the Provincial Council voted £100 for the purchase of type collections in mineralogy, lithology, palæontology, and conchology, which were obtained from the Mineralien Comptoir in Heidelberg, Germany, under very favourable conditions. It contained 2,613 well-selected specimens, many of them of permanent value.”

William J. Hamilton, Secretary of the Geological Society of London, wrote in 1860 that “The institution [Heideberger Mineralien Comptoir] is also under the superintendence of the principal geologists and mineralogists of Heidelberg, as Leonhard, Blum and Brown [Bronn],” suggesting that they all advised Lommel as necessary in the assembling and labeling of the collections he sold.

In 1867 the company issued a 30-page catalog, written by J. Lommel, entitled Collection of 1,000 Specimens of Rocks and Fossils. It was the “fifth edition,” and Lommel's last publication. He died on October 12, 1868. His brief obituary notice in Neues Jahrbuch identifies him as the besitzer (“owner”) of the Heidelberger-Mineralien Comptoir; probably he had inherited formal ownership following Leonhard's death in 1862 (and Bronn's death that same year).

HAAST, J. (1881) Origin and early history of the Canterbury Museum. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Societyof New Zealand, 14, 503-504.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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