Friederich Wilhelm Kegel was general manager at Tsumeb and a director of the Otavi Minen- und Eisenbahn-Gesellchaft (OMEG) between 1922 and 1932. He was an enthusiastic mineral collector who was probably influenced by his mine captain Wilhelm Klein (Gebhard, 1999); notably, he was one of very few contemporary collectors to record the level in the mine from which his specimens were found. The combination of quality specimens, with recorded sources, and the fact that much of the collection is still intact at the Smithsonian, make Kegel’s mineralogical legacy a very valuable one.
Kegel was a South African national and a British subject. At the end of his management term (in 1932) he relocated to Switzerland, with his wife, where he spent the remainder of his life. After his death, on 8th August, in 1948, his wife sold his collection to the U.S. National Museum (Smithsonian), for a consideration of US$3,800 (approximately $40,000 in 2015 money). Dr Mark Charles Bandy, acting on behalf of the Smithsonian, advised that he believed the collection to be worth approximately $5,500 and that the total weight of specimens was between 1.5 and 1.75 tons. There were 820 labelled specimens in total. Today, many fine Kegel specimens remain on display in the mineral hall of the Smithsonian.
Kegel was the mine manager famously involved in the division of specimens with Sam Gordon of the Philadelphia Academy of Science, after Gordon had the good fortune to discover a pocket of azurite of unprecedented quality on 8 Level (see White, 1977).
Kegel's miner's lamp has survived (see below) and is in the collection of Ian Bruce. In 1974 the mineral kegelite was named in honour of F.W.Kegel (Medenbach and Schmetzer, 1976).
Image of F.W. Kegel courtesy of the Tsumeb Museum, Tsumeb, Namibia.