Wilhelm Maucher was born at Winterstettenstadt in Württemberg, Germany, on June 15, 1879. At the age of 20 he enrolled as a student at the Freiberg Mining Academy (now the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology) where he studied mineralogy for five years. After completing his studies and receiving his engineering diploma, he stayed on to teach mineralogy and was appointed curator of the Royal Mineral Repository of Saxony at the Freiberg Mining Academy from 1904 to 1909.
Two significant events led to Maucher’s importance in the Tsumeb story. Firstly, in 1907, several tonnes of ore were shipped to Freiberg from Tsumeb for metallurgical testing and mineralogical study. Although Maucher had not visited Tsumeb, from the study of this material he published two short papers on the mineralogy of the deposit (Maucher 1908a, 1908b). These were the earliest scientific descriptions of the Tsumeb ore body (Von Bezing et al., 2007); they included the first descriptions of many Tsumeb minerals and noted the abundance of copper and lead arsenates, and the virtual absence of phosphates.
The second event was Maucher’s appointment at the Freiberg Academy to succeed H. Zinkeisen as Faktor of the Mineralien-Niederlage, which had been founded primarily to supply the students with specimens and subsequently developed into a business for the sale of minerals generally. In 1909 he left the Academy to establish a mineral business of his own in Munich, a business that would later be continued by his daughter. While at the Academy, Maucher issued pamphlets for the use of students, one of which dealt with the order of deposition of various minerals in metalliferous veins and was published after his departure from the Academy (Maucher, 1914).
For many years, Maucher was the main supplier of Tsumeb minerals to collectors and museums, including many fine specimens now held by the Natural History Museum in London. Many of his best specimens were accompanied by detailed labels, often with drawings of the crystals which he prepared for special customers. His minerals were sourced mainly from contract miners returning to Germany from Tsumeb, as well as from direct shipments of minerals by the mine managers.
The mineral maucherite (which does not occur at Tsumeb) is named in his honour (Grünling, 1913). He died in Munich on May 4, 1930.
The evolution of Maucher’s mineral labels is recorded in the Mineralogical Record Label Archive (www.mineralogicalrecord.com).