About Dr. F. Krantz, Rheinisches Mineralien-Kontor
Exhibition 2002 in Tokyo

Ursula Müller-Krantz
Rheinisches Mineralien-Kontor GmbH & Co. KG

Adam August Krantz

 Since the days of Agricola, mineral collecting in Germany has been illuminated and nourished by the great ore deposits of Freiberg, the Harz Mountains and the Saxon Erzgebirge. Many physicians and pharmacists, like Agricola himself, gained their first exposure to minerals as 'materia medica'. The essential role played by mining in the German economy. Psychology and culture inspired collection building across the country, especially in the population centers of Leipzig, Berlin, Dresden etc., as well as in the great mining town of Freiberg.

Thus mineral dealing had become thoroughly well-established by the end of the 18th century. Leonhard et al. (1817) in their comprehensive book about mineralogy for the collector, noted that buying minerals which cannot be personally collected is a good way in which to enlarge one's collection.

In the 19. century the critical views of the rationalismus changed. That was also the time when Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology were beginning to establish themselves as individual sciences and also the research began in each subject.

Now the historical musuen were built to show the people the evolution of nature. With the upturn of the economy the trade with minerals and fossils began as well.

In those days Adam August Krantz, born in 1808 in Neumarkt in Silesia, had studied pharmacy. His master was a mineral collector and might have kindled the flame of interest in his young apprentice, so that in 1832 we find Adam August Krantz as a student of "Geognosie"at the famous "Bergakademie Freiberg" in Saxony.

The ore-deposits in the near and far surroundings of Freiberg seem to have fascinated the young man much more than his former studies in Pharmacy. Apart from establishing a collection of his own. Adam August Krantz had the opportunity to get to know all the scientists and collectors who came from all over Europe to visit the prosperous ore-deposits.

This certainly led to quit a few exchange trades and finally to the idea of establishing the business. A former note book served as first business book. The inscription "Start of the mineral business of Krantz in Freiberg, on the 14th of Decbr. 1833" shows some of the young man's enterprising spirit.

Only four years later, in 1837, Krantz had already moved his business to Berlin. The Prussian capital was a center of science and thus provided the most favourable conditions for a swift development of the young enterprise. In addition the extensive travels of Adam August Krantz and his employees were responsible for the meteoric rise of the firm in the first few years.

The personal contact with numerous important scientist and collectors guaranteed long-lasting connections. In the old correspondence we find letters from DUFRENOY, DUNKER, HAUER, HOERNES, JAMESON, MICHELIN, OPPEL, PARTSCH to name only a few. In order to find new contacts and material, Krantz sent his employees all over Europe and even to North America.

In 1850 A. Krantz moved to Bonn, probably because of the excellent reputation which the Bonn University and especially its Earth Sciences Department enjoyed all over the world.

On the bank of the Rhine he erected a large mansion, which at that time was still surrounded by vineyards. The house was situated opposite the most beautiful scenery of the Seven Hills. A visit to it and its magnificent collections was the highlight of many a traveller's stay at the Bonn University. Among the visitors were such famous scientists as HUMBOLDT, GEINITZ and BEYRICH.

Most of all scientifist and many collectors of those days became client of the Krantz company. In the catalogues printed in this time we find already small and big collections of minerals, fossils and rocks composed as teaching aids for schools and universities as well as extraordinary show specimens from localities around the world. Beside that Krantz sold geological models, different sets of wooden crystal models, books and geological maps

When August Krantz died in 1872, his firm was famous throughout the world. Gold medals gained at world-exhibitions and personal recommendations of renowned scientists honored the extremely conscientious and highly creative work of the founder, who had contributed considerably to the early propagation of the Earth Sciences. His private collection, bought in 1875 by G. VON RATH for the University of Bonn, formed the foundation of Bonn's Mineralogical Museum, which up to this day one of the most prominent collection in Europe. The collections, teaching models and exhibition pieces sold to customers throughout the world certainly promoted the scientific development of quite a few institutes and departments and so had a positive influence on the continuously growing interest of people in the Geo-Sciences.

For the next 16 years, the business was managed by August Krantz's son-in-law, Theodor Hoffmann. Being quite untrained in the Earth Sciences, he was very dependent on the help of a man, who was to become on of the most qualified mineralogists of this time: C.Hintze. After having worked in the firm for 6 years, HINTZE became professor of Mineralogy in Breslau (Silesia).

There, one of his pupils was Friedrich Krantz, a nephew of August Krantz. After his dissertation, he bought the firm from Th. Hoffmann.

Having studied Mineralogy, he was especially interested in Crystallography. Supported by his teacher C. HINTZE and crystallographs from all over the world, he edited numerous collections of wooden crystal models, the largest of which contained not less than 928 pieces. Throughout the world hardly any Mineralogical Department exists which does not work with those teaching aids from Krantz.

With him once again a brilliant, inventive man took hold of the reigns. Combining business ability with scientific knowledge he considerably extended the business. Extremely detailed catalogues of special collections appeared in copious numbers.

Beside the commercial activities here was not much time left to publish extensive scientific essays. But in the year 1896 he published f.e. an essay about the chemical and physical properties of some minerals of the rare-earth elements regarding their application of the just invented gaslighting. In fact he has been member of several scientific organizations and visited nearly all events of mineralogical interest.

In the same year he bought a new villa as the houses near the Rhine boarder got to small for his company. Here near to the station he erected several houses and installed working areas for producing mineral and rock thin sections. The first replicas of Hominidae got part of his delivery program.

Like his predecessor, he spent a great deal of his time travelling and sent his employees to interesting localities throughout the world in order to collect material and to buy mineral collections from famous collectors all over the world.

On the occasion of the firm's 60. Jubilee C. HINTZE wrote to his former student: "Six of my best years I worked for KRANTZ and therefore I am especially pleased, that it was granted to one of my first and most esteemed students, to bring the business to flourish as it had not done before. To him I cry a sincere vivat, florat, crescat yours truthfully C. HINTZE".

The beginning of World War I. had almost fatal consequences for the business.

The vitally important international connections were suddenly interrupted. Friedrich Krantz managed to save the business through the war. However, a few years afterwards in 1926 he died. His wife took over with the support of her nephew Fritz Krantz. The business, being mostly dependant on the interest of scientifical institutes and museums, was very much imbedded by the serious political and economic crisis of the Twenties and the Thirties. During World War II, a great deal of the precious collections were destroyed.

During the war, the continuation of the firm was secured only by the great personal sacrifices of Olga Krantz. In 1948 she died and her nephew was confronted with the most difficult period in the firm's history. Apart from everything else, the international connections had to be revived. Fritz Krantz now profited from his travels to America. Numerous personal relationships from that time now bore fruit:

Once again, WARDS bought the wooden crystal models; ESTWING chose Krantz as representative for their renowned range of geologic tools; museums bought new material, very often by way of exchange; and the casts were incorporated into the catalogues of Japanese dealers. Most of all however the need of the rising oil countries in the Near East and North Africa to catch up with western educational standards, had a major influence on the reestablish-ment of the firm's exports.

Meanwhile the formerly magnificent buildings in the Herwarthstr., that had been erected by Friedrich Krantz, could no longer provide the necessary conditioned for a smooth working process. The work shops and stores were spread over three houses which showed definite signs of age. In 1969, Fritz Krantz moved his firm to a new building in the industrial area of Bonn. The removal lasted a whole year. It was a crucial importance of the firm's survival. Fritz Krantz died 5 years later. He was followed in the firm by his daughter Renate Krantz who had studied Geology in Tübingen near Stuttgart. She enlarged the international contacts and visited the geologist in Japan, China, Australia, America and other countries.

Beside the overtaken scientific articles now the clients got more interest in searching their minerals by themselves. At her time the geo-catalogue with lots of geological materials was introduced. After her death, in 1995, her sister continued to run the business and two of her children follows her, now.

Nearely 175 years have left their traces. Adapting to the occurences of the times new accents had to be set. Today Krantz is probably the oldest and at the same time one of the biggest geoscience dealers on the world market. The programme of teaching materials contains more than 1000 articles, the smallest collection containing 10, the largest 5000 specimens. A team of 13 people master the great variety of tasks, that are adressed to the firm by customers in Mineralogy, Crystallography, Petrology, Geology, Paleontology and Anthropo-logy. The stores of minerals, fossils and rocks still bear some of the legendary collections of August and Friedrich Krantz in an area of 1700 m2.

The foreign trade, which was revived by Fritz Krantz, is one focus of Krantz's activities. The exports to the Near and Middle East, North Africa and the rising countries of the Third World are especially important.

Apart from the customers from Overseas, the departments, museums and schools, the collector also has his firm place among the many other customers of Krantz.

The large stocks of minerals, fossils and rocks provide him with manifold opportunities to build up and complete his collection, while Krantz's offer of tools and equipment support his own collecting-activities in every possible way.

前頁へ   |   表紙に戻る   |   次頁へ