Berger, Anton (senior)


Category: Dealers & Collectors Date of Birth: 1870 Date of Death: 1956

A prominent mineral dealer in the 1920s and 1930s, and one of the most important contemporary purveyors of fine minerals in Austria.  He provided exquisite specimens for many Viennese museums and private collectors.

 

Anton Berger (senior), was born in Krems, Austria, in 1870, where he attended school.  After a period of mandatory military service, he worked for the Lower Austrian Road Construction Department. Sometime in the early to mid-1920s Berger established his mineral business (Fitz, 1993) with his son, Anton Berger (junior);  however, inventory lists owned by the family indicate that he purchased minerals as early as 1918 (Niedermayr and Berger, 2009).  Berger (senior) ran the business alongside his regular job until 1927, when he took an early retirement, at age 57, to become a full-time mineral dealer.  From 1938 he passed control of the business to his son (Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com; retrieved 03/10/2015).

 

While Berger dealt mostly with minerals from the former Austro-Hungarian territories and other classic European localities, he added minerals from Namibia to his inventory from the late 1930s. He had excellent connections in Namibia (at that time German Southwest Africa) and his address book held approximately 900 names of collectors, curators, museums, mining engineers and mining administrators in Europe and overseas (Niedermayr and Berger, 2009; Niedermayr, 2011).

 

Berger (senior) stored the best specimens of his personal collection in boxes under his bed to hide them from competing customers and collectors (Niedermayr and Berger, 2009).  The quality of his Tsumeb specimens, however, was legendary.  A frequent visitor to Berger in 1931/1932 was Hungarian exchange student Sandor Koch who commented on one specimen in particular: “Among the hidden minerals was a Tsumeb azurite. It was a 20 cm tall, completely undamaged specimen with dark blue translucent crystals.  A truly royal piece!” (Szakall, 1987).

 

Both father and son died in 1956, Berger senior outliving his son by a few weeks. His daughter-in-law, Marie Luise Berger, operated the business after their deaths (Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com; retrieved 03/10/2015).

 

The evolution of Anton Berger’s mineral labels over the years is recorded by Fritz (1993), Niedermayr and Berger (2009), and in the Mineralogical Record Label Archive (www.mineralogicalrecord.com).

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